The Miami Dolphins paid Chief Fire Officer David Brooks $129 per hour to attend their game against the Chiefs at Dolphin Stadium last October - some of it hazardous-duty pay.
Capt. Allen Brown joined him for $109 per hour. Battalion Chief Andrew McConchie - whose labors at the stadium in the past 10 years have included 28 Dolphins games, 96 Marlins games and a professional cheerleading contest - got $96 an hour.
The trio attended the game as part of the Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Department's "fire watch" program, which requires large venues that host public performances to pay the department for fire protection and paramedic services. In most cases, such as parades and street festivals, rank-and-file firefighters do the work for about $30 per hour.
But some big events get extraordinary attention from the county's top-ranking fire officials, department records show.
For example, 26 firefighters were on hand for Game 3 of the 2003 World Series, department officials say. Officers, including three chiefs, seven captains and six lieutenants, outnumbered the rank-and-file firefighters 16 to 10.
For last year's Dolphins' home opener against the Denver Broncos, 24 uniformed firefighters were at the stadium, 15 of them officers.
When the then-reigning Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots came to town in November, nine firefighters were supervised by 11 officers: two chiefs, seven captains and two lieutenants, department records show.
Capt. William Van Meter, who oversees fire watch, said it's ridiculous to think that any firefighter would sign up to work special events to enjoy the spectacle.
"If you're a fan, you'd rather be in the seats, with a ticket, drinking a beer, " instead of working the game and having "people bleeding on you, puking on you, " he said.
NO MAGIC NUMBER
The fire department has no specific formula to determine the ratio of officers to rank and file firefighters at events, according to a written statement the department released Wednesday night.
"Each unit is staffed with one OIC [Officer in Charge], " the statement said. The remainder are regular firefighters, when enough volunteer for the off-duty assignment, it said. Sometimes, events need officers of certain ranks, it said, without further explanation.
Fire departments typically use one officer for every five or six firefighters to staff events, said Miami-Dade firefighters union chief Stan Hills.
Miami Dolphins officials, who own the stadium and pay for fire watch at both baseball and football games, refused to comment for this story.
The proportion of brass is dramatically lower when firefighters patrol the county fair, or the Santa's Enchanted Forest theme park in Southwest Miami-Dade County, where firefighters outnumbered officers 2-1 last holiday season, department records show.
At the 2005 NASCAR Championship at Homestead Motor Speedway last November, 66 firefighters stood by as hot cars full of flammable liquid circled the track at nearly 200 mph. They were supervised by 10 officers.
"Sixty-six to 10, that's a more reasonable ratio, " said Miami-Dade County Commissioner Carlos Gimenez, who spent nine years as chief of the city of Miami Fire Department. "There may be some justification for adding units to some games, but the proportion should stay the same, " Gimenez said.
Over the past three seasons, the average Marlins game has been staffed by eight firefighters, records show. One is usually a captain or a chief, who sits in an air-conditioned luxury box in straight-away center field and dispatches the others to requests for help.