Miami-Dade firefighters graduate months after budget cuts

Federal grant helped class of 40 reach goal

By Glenna Milberg - Reporter , Ben Candea

DORAL, Fla. - Forty new Miami-Dade firefighters received their badges and titles Friday after being put on hold in budget cuts last summer.

Among them was Carlos Alvear, a Marine veteran and father of two with a third on the way.

"When we first got the news that it might be coming to an end for us, everybody kept their heads up and we strive forward," he said.

Miami-Dade Fire Chief David Downey addressed the class in July in the weeks before the County Commission voted to keep the tax rate flat. As a consequence, the Fire Department shut down six units and lost 140 jobs.

"By illustration, it went into what it would mean -- the community went in an uproar," said Commissioner Sally Heyman. "It was unconscionable."

A federal grant helped get the class of 40 to their goal: a career largely governed by county leaders' annual task of deciding how much to charge taxpayers and where to spend those dollars.

"There's only two ways you can get more funding: increase the size of the pie or get somebody else's pie," said Al Cruz, president of IAFF Local 1403. "We don't care which way the county does it as long as we're properly funded."

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