‘The big thing that helped us I think is our population density,” said Koehle. “They started awarding some [grants] in October to certain departments across the country, and we got the first award of the session. I believe the storm probably helped our chances.”
On the night of the storm, a fire affecting 10 homes ripped through Barnes Street and took firefighters approximately six hours to put out.
At the press conference, Schumer pointed to the recent impact that Hurricane Sandy had on the community and the need for additional firefighters in Long Beach.
“The more bodies that were there would have been great,” Koehle said. “I think right now, the department is looking to rebuild and getting us back is a huge thing. The department took a huge blow and lost a lot of equipment … the more manpower the better. There have been a lot of fires lately and there have been a lot of calls; all the call numbers are up. They’ve been busy since the storm and continue to be busy.”
Schumer was a sponsor of the legislation that led to the creation of the funding program for local governments and fire departments to help defray the rising costs of equipment and fire prevention. The Operations and Firefighter Safety Program funds can go towards training, equipment, personal protective equipment, wellness and fitness, and modifications to fire stations and facilities.
“Coming at a crucial time in Long Beach History, it is reassuring that we were all able to work together to ensure our critical public safety needs are met. I would like to personally welcome back these five brave first responders to city service, and thank them for their voluntary service following Superstorm Sandy,” said City Council Vice President Scott Mandel.