For the first time in its 78-year history, Miami-Dade Fire Rescue has exceeded its overtime budget by so much that it has stopped operating 11 fire trucks and emergency vehicles, a move that could last until the end of September and reduce response times, reports the Miami Hearld.
Called a “rolling brownout,” the operation ordered by Chief Dave Downey will affect stations in most sectors of Miami-Dade, from Homestead through North Miami Beach. Firefighters on idled vehicles will be redistributed to other stations in an effort to save money by avoiding overtime.
The belt-tightening has nothing to do with the upcoming county budget, which may idle fire trucks and cut staff to save money.
“These are to meet the budget shortfalls for the [current] fiscal year. It’s not that it will be less service, but there will be longer response times, unfortunately,” said Fire Rescue Spokeswoman Michelle Fayad.
No station will close as the seven trucks and four emergency vehicles are shut down while Downey looks to cut $2 million in overtime from his $345 million budget. Typically Miami-Dade deploys four firefighters on each truck, and three on an emergency vehicle. Already the department has seen its average response time increase the past two years by 12 seconds, to eight minutes and 17 seconds.
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