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Downey officials announced today that a fire engine shut down last summer due to budget cuts will be put back in service after the city secured a $1.8 million FEMA grant.
The money will be used to hire nine firefighters to man Engine 63 out of Fire Station 1 on Paramount Boulevard. The city is also filling three previously open positions, for a total of 12 new firefighters.
All new firefighters will be EMT-Ps, meaning they are also paramedics.
The fire engine should be back on Downey streets no later than July 1, officials said.
Mayor Mario Guerra is expected to announce the news at tonight’s City Council meeting.
Facing an $11 million budget deficit, council members shut down the fire engine July 1, a move that saved Downey $1.8 million but increased firefighter response times throughout the city. It also prompted the fire union to begin a push to bring in L.A. County Fire.
Budget cuts had reduced total fire personnel from 63 in 2011 to 54 today, union leaders said.
Firefighters are in the midst of gathering signatures for a potential charter amendment that would take away residents’ right to decide a move to L.A. fire and police services and put the decision solely in the hands of the city council.
It’s unclear if this latest news will change the fire union’s stance.
“Public safety is and will remain a high priority for our city and I want to extend my gratitude to Fire Chief Lonnie Croom and his staff for their hard work in securing this grant,” Guerra said in a statement. “During my swearing-in last December, I stated that one of my goals as mayor was to find a way to bring back our fire engine and I am proud that we will be able to accomplish this.”
“We are extremely pleased to have been successful in being a recipient of this FEMA grant and look forward to providing the quality of service that our community deserves,” added Croom.
Even with the grant, city officials still need to find a way to continue funding the fire engine heading into the next fiscal year.