On October 4, 2006, The Leary Firefighters Foundation proudly announced the gift of a fleet of flat-bottomed, search and rescue boats to the New Orleans Fire Department (NOFD) for immediate deployment. During Katrina and its immediate aftermath, the only water rescue capability available to the NOFD was the use of personal boats owned by members of the Department. Even with this limited capability, these dedicated firefighters rescued over 18,000 individuals, a great success given that the NOFD’s response area covers over 300 square miles.
In February 2006, LFF staff members conducted a fact-finding mission to New Orleans and learned that the NOFD continued to operate under emergency conditions. To date, only sixteen of the NOFD’s 33 stations had been repaired to the point of occupancy. Over half of the NOFD fleet were seriously damaged and replacement apparatus had not yet arrived. Also, nearly 80% of the New Orleans Fire Department’s membership lost their homes and were working overtime and without pay to clean out damaged firehouses and assist in the rebuilding effort.
“The catastrophic storm and its aftermath has shown us how essential the need is for these flat-bottomed rescue boats to protect the citizens of New Orleans and the dedicated firefighters that serve this great city,” said Superintendent Charles Parent, New Orleans Fire Department. “Without the generosity of The Leary Firefighters Foundation there would have been no way to fill this major equipment void. This gift will make a substantial difference to rebuild our communities and our ability to do our job.”
The Leary Firefighters Foundation thanks the following for their generous support of the Foundation’s efforts in New Orleans: Ruth’s Chris Steak House; world-renowned Chef Ming Tsai, owner of Blue Ginger Restaurant in Wellesley, MA and host of television’s “Simply Ming”; and Ernie Boch, President and CEO of Boch Enterprises in Norwood, MA.