Metro Dade Firefighters Battle For Their Jobs

Adrien Cegora stood outside Miami Beach City Hall yesterday with a crease in his brow. The fit firefighter wore a red Metro-Dade T-shirt, along with about 50 of his co-workers. They hoped to send city commissioners a message: Indian Creek and Surfside? That's our territory.

"Miami Beach is trying to take over our turf," Cegora says. "For us, it's gonna mean layoffs."

Commissioner Victor Diaz lead the city commission discussion. The question: Should Surfside and Indian Creek be allowed to contract Miami Beach Fire Department? The tiny, well-off municipalities are now covered by Metro Dade Fire Department, and would save money by using the Beach's services. Miami Beach would make some money, too. "It's a very delicate question," Diaz told a full room. "There's an immediate financial benefit for our city, but at the same time we have a relationship with [the Metro Dade Department]"

Indian Creek Mayor Robert Diener explained the village only experiences only a couple fires per year. Considering the numbers, his residents end up paying far more taxes than necessary, he says. "We're paying a million a year for minimal [county] services."

Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett added it could cut his town's costs in half "every time a fire truck rolls in."

It's unclear how many layoffs would ensue. Metro-Dade Fire Department Chief Stan Hills warned against it for other reasons. "We're fragmenting a system that has been carefully planned," he said. "We're going against the national grain."

Commissioners took no action. The discussion will likely continue next meeting. It's set for June 3.

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Natalie O'Neill
Contact: Natalie O'Neill