Published on Sunday, July 28, 2013
By THEO KARANTSALIS
The Miami Herald
Miami-Dade County’s firefighters face a budget crunch, for the current fiscal year, and this may reduce response times during emergencies.
Miami Springs is one of a handful of stations that will redistribute firefighters to other stations to avoid paying overtime after a “rolling brownout” was ordered by Chief Dave Downey. The other stations include West Kendall, Miami Lakes, Doral, Sweetwater, Miami Shores, Honey Hill, Sunny Isles and Uleta.
“It’s not that it will be less service, but there will be longer response times, unfortunately,” Fire Rescue Spokeswoman Michelle Fayad told the Herald.
A county spokesperson added that the belt-tightening measures were aimed at budget shortfalls for the current fiscal year. The brownout measures are not related to next year’s budget.
One local official wants to reassure residents that safety is a priority.
“They brought in Engine 61, so we don’t have any lag in response times,” said Mayor Zavier Garcia, who pointed out that the firefighters union agreed to the brownouts after overtime allotments were exceeded.
Garcia knows the local operation well and is the only city official who has ridden on Engine 35 for a full 24-hour shift.
“These are Miami-Dade County fire trucks,” said Garcia. “If the local station needs backup, they call the next closest station.”
Engine 35 also serves neighboring Virginia Gardens. “Most of our residents are elderly,” said Virginia Gardens Mayor Spencer Deno. “For that reason alone, we are very concerned.”
Photo: IDLE: Miami Springs Engine 35, based next door to City Hall, was taken out of service last Monday due to county budget cuts. (THEO KARANTSALIS/SPECIAL TO THE MIAMI HERALD)