CHULA VISTA -- The Chula Vista Fire Department began training nearly two dozen new recruits this week -- the largest group the department has ever seen.
Noah Hershman is one of the 23 new recruits.
“I come from a large military family. Both of my parents were educators so we’re civil servants at heart," Hershman told FOX 5.
The department trained 17 recruits in 2018 and just five in 2016.
"It means better service and protection," Captain David Margetts said of the larger class.
An increase in firefighters also means that Chula Vista is very close to meeting the national safety standard of having four firefighters on every engine, instead of three. In California, the policy of "two-in, two-out" mandates that firefighters never go into a dangerous situation alone, and that two firefighters remain outside.
“It’s such a big deal and we’re very proud of that accomplishment because it’s a promise to the voter," said Darrell Roberts, president of IAFF Local 2180.
Measure A was passed by voters in 2018. The half-cent sales tax increase brings in approximately 9 million dollars to the Chula Vista Fire Department annually, Roberts said. According to Roberts, Chula Vista has the most understaffed fire department in California per capita.
“It’s giving our folks a fighting chance to go out there and better take care of our community.”