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Long Beach firefighters get job back after Sandy

December 1, 2012 4:16:34 PM PST
Imagine getting laid off, and then getting your job back. That is exactly what happened to five Long Beach firefighters who are so desperately needed in a city hit hard by Superstorm Sandy.

It was an early Christmas gift or the firefighters courtesy of the Federal Government.

"It is more of a sign of relief. We can get back to normal. Get my career back and get my life going," said Long Beach firefighter Chris Koehle.

Koehle got his pink slip on July 1st because of budget cuts. However, that did not deter him from giving up his lifelong pursuit. As Superstorm Sandy pounded Long Beach, Koehle and other laid off firefighters felt called to action.

The firefighters volunteered at the firehouse where they had been let go just a few months earlier where the full-time employees worked in the field. Koehle says he and the other firefighters helped to clean up, cook meals, and move things around.

If it were not for Sandy and the extensive damage she caused, the firefighters may not have gotten their jobs back.

A $900,000 grant from the Department of Homeland Security is covering their salaries and equipment for the next two years.

"For the first time, people are feeling optimistic here that this community will re-grow," said Senator Charles Schumer.

Senator Schumer co-authored the law that provided the funding to cash-strapped communities like Long Beach that needed fire and emergency first responders.

"In a certain sense, this is a metaphor for Long Beach. Everything is going to come back," Schumer added. Long Beach firefighter Mike Seemanin said that there were a lot of calls, and a lot of help with the recovery effort within the community.

There is no word exactly on when the firefighters will be back on the job, but they say they were told it will be soon.

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