U.S. Sens. Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand announced last week that the Long Beach Volunteer Fire Department will receive $237,060 in federal funding to purchase 42 new air packs.
The money was allocated through the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Assistance to Firefighters Grant program.
“With this funding, Long Beach’s first responders can focus on their important work knowing they have new, reliable and protective breathing equipment,” Schumer said in a statement. “This investment will help ensure that our local heroes can continue their life-saving work as effectively and safely as possible.”
“This is an important investment for Long Beach,” added Gillibrand. “When our first responders go into harm’s way, we need to make sure they have the most up-to-date equipment to serve our communities. Federal funding will help our firefighters respond to emergencies more efficiently and effectively, and help save more lives.”
Long Beach was one of the hardest hit communities on Long Island during Hurricane Sandy, destroying many homes and leaving residents without power for days. The Long Beach Volunteer Fire Department, Schumer said, played a critical role in the recovery process. The air packs can be used for interior firefighting, officials said, and will replace outdated equipment.
“They’re a firefighter’s lifeline,” said Fire Commissioner Scott Kemins. “It keeps them able to breathe in a fire.”
On the night of the storm, a fire ripped through 10 homes on Barnes Street. Because the storm had knocked out power and communications at the Long Beach Fire Department, the firefighters were notified about the fire through social media. Four Long Beach firefighters — Tim Sorenson, Bob Holthkamp, Dave Rivera, and Lou Vargas — trudged through chest-high floodwaters to help put out the fire. After additional firefighters arrived to the scene, it took approximately six hours to put out.