Although its three
firehouse were flooded and most of its apparatus was lost during Hurricane Sandy, the
Long Beach Fire Department was self-sustained the following day, according to
Chief Richard Corbett.
“A lot of the
members actually lost everything, but they came to the firehouses because they
couldn’t do anything at their houses,” Corbett reported after a special City
last Tuesday, noting that one member, a building engineer, went to each firehouse to ensure everything from the generators to plumbing was working.Follow Long Beach Patch on Facebook.
Since the night of
the storm Oct. 29, the LBFD has responded to roughly 750 calls, and continues to
respond to many calls, mostly for gas leaks and electrical fires and smoke
alarms, as of last week.
“A lot of times if
your heating equipment lays dormant, there’s dust in there and that burns and
gives off an odor,” Corbett said. “So, we’re handling a lot of calls like
From Oct. 28, the
day prior to Sandy's arrival, and Oct. 30, the department
responded to 126 alarms. On Oct. 31, the department responded to 74
alarms. The most destructive incident
came during the height of the storm, when
a cluster of seven houses burned to the ground and three others suffered considerable fire damage
in the Canals neighborhood.
Corbett said that
during the storm, when sustained winds reached 55 miles per hour, the
department decided to stop operations as a safety measure, but membership
continued to respond to calls. “We tried to shut down but it just couldn’t
happen with all the calls for help that we were getting,” he said.
involved a car that drove into a house, on Lincoln Boulevard near East Park
Avenue, and firefighters had to extricate the people in the vehicle. “I think
that it was people driving like idiots because we didn’t have traffic lights
and people weren’t paying attention,” the chief speculated about the cause of
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told, there weren't any storm-related deaths, Corbett reported.
the storm a temporary emergency room was established at City Hall, and four
days later a small-scale but full-service hospital, a Disaster Management
Emergency Team tent, was set up on a ball field at the Recreation Center, which treated more than 1,000 patients.
fire departments, especially from the Albany area, assisted the LBFD, as part
of a mutual aid agreement Long Beach has with the state. “These departments
drove over five hours to get to Long Island, and stood by for 72 hours and then
they had to leave,” Corbett said
Still, many of their members returned to assist the city, while other departments
sent manpower simply to help Long Beach residents gut their flood-damaged homes. “It was a
pretty amazing show of support,” Corbett said.
Preparations for the
storm began five days before Sandy made landfall on the barrier island, as LBFD met
with its members and officials from the city, Nassau County Office of Emergency Management and Nassau
County Fire Marshals Office. Corbett put all members in the firehouses the night before the storm, and they brought supplies
including cots, blankets and food.
“We asked all
firehouse to have enough food to sustain themselves for at least three days,
which all the members did,” said Corbett, who noted that his department cooked
for every firefighter, state trooper and National Guard member that assisted
As of last week, the
LBFD was partially in service with some borrowed equipment as it works toward
full service once again.
“I’m very proud of
all the citizens for working with us and helping us every way they can,”
Corbett said. “ … I think the whole community came together as one. Strangers
were helping strangers. People have been coming down to the firehouses just to
say thank you. It’s pretty incredible, the show of love for the firefighters
and fire responders.”
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