Would you put a mayor at the wheel of a fire or a rescue truck and tell him to operate it at its fullest capacity while being the county attorney, the property appraiser and the clerk of courts? That’s what Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez would have everyone think the firefighters union should agree to do.
The union is supposed to agree to rob Peter and pay Paul by using a four-person crew that’s currently manning PortMiami to complete all fire, rescue, hazardous materials, technical rescue and boat services to county residents and visitors, on land and on the water.
There is currently one dedicated unit, a fire truck, at the port to provide both fire and rescue services to the third busiest port in the country. There isn’t a transport rescue unit at the port. Therefore, if an emergency is called out, the fire truck responds, leaving no other unit to respond if an additional call goes out on land or sea. There is a substantial delay for the next closest available unit to respond because of distance and availability.
It is inefficient to use one unit that cannot leave the port to mitigate all emergencies on the port and on the water. The union has offered to agree to add new service to be able to cover the fire boat and rescue transports, but it has failed.
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The fire boat is a specialty unit that requires special training, certification and years of boating experience. There are already certified, experienced fire boat crews who were operating the fire boat. That fire boat operation was shut down because of budget cuts.
The mayor is no longer the fire chief of the city of Miami and should focus his attention on being the Miami-Dade County mayor. He should let the county fire chief manage the Miami-Dade’s fire department. Stop passing blame and manage this county responsibly. Stop pointing fingers and put services in the water.
The union didn’t cut the fire boat program, and it doesn’t manage the fire department or its budget. The union is here to make sure firefighters with the correct training, certifications and experience are responding safely to the needs of the community. We are here to make sure that when agreements are made, the parties follow through. The union is here to make sure that bad management decisions do not jeopardize the lives of any firefighter who takes risks every day protecting our community.
The mayor is responsible for providing proper funding, making sure citizens have public safety and services on the land, air and sea.
Maria Chin, secretary, Metro-Dade County Local 1403, Kendall