Miami-Dade Fire Rescue idles fire engines

Department implements 'rolling brown-outs' after exceeding overtime budget

MIAMI – The Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Department began idling some of its fire engines after exceeding its overtime budget.

The fire engines in Miami Shores and West Sunset couldn't respond to calls Monday, two of eleven department fire units kept idle because of "rolling brownouts," a one-day unit suspension after the department's overtime budget ran out.

"This isn't just how close we are to other stations," said Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Lt. Richard Ramirez. "You end up moving different units from different parts of the county to cover those areas."

The union agreed to the one-day unit suspension in its last contract.

"We have to run the fire department within the constraints of the budget and so we do the best that we can with the resources that we have to minimize the impact as much as possible," said Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez, a former fire chief.

Gimenez has drawn criticism for a plan to keep taxes flat, which means a cut to next year's fire department budget. The budget year resets on Sept. 30.

"There could be delays in response times," said Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Chief Louie Fernandez. "How will it take that unit at this time of day in this universe at this moment of time to get from point A to point B?"

No delays were reported Monday.