John B. Licata
When safety rules are broken, people are injured and lives are destroyed. My father learned this lesson time and time again as a Lieutenant with the Buffalo Fire Department. My father taught me that fires were rarely started on purpose, but usually because someone had broken a simple safety rule that led to a member of the community being injured and a home destroyed.
He used to say the fire department did not exist to save houses and cars, there’s insurance for that, those things are replaceable, his first job was to protect people from harm.
My grandfather, mother, and father all had jobs that taught them the same lesson: when a safety rule is broken, even just once, it can cause great tragedy.
My grandfather was a railroad porter, a member of the Teamsters Union, and also supported his family during the Great Depression by unloading produce at the Clinton-Bailey Market.
In addition to being a firefighter, my father, Michael, a World War II veteran taught at Bishop Timon High School.
My mother, Teresa, was a surgical nurse at Buffalo General Hospital.
My family taught me that safety rules are important everywhere, not just on the railroad, or in the operating room, or during a fire. Through the years I’ve learned that breaking safety rules in construction, manufacturing, and when driving a car, even just once, can cause harm to members of the community and their families.
I earned an undergraduate degree, Master’s degree, and law degree from SUNY Buffalo and though my parents did not live to see me become a lawyer, their values have remained with me. They instilled in me the desire to enter a profession to help others in time of need.
Now, I don’t rush into burning buildings or save someone on an operating table or work on a railroad. Instead, I work with juries to represent our community and hold accountable the companies and people who cause harm by breaking the safety rules. No matter how powerful the rule-breaker is, our community is safer when we hold rule-breakers accountable.