Miami-Dade Fire Rescue chief laments budget cuts

Proposed budget calls for $15M less in department's budget, 149 firefighters to be laid off

MIAMI – Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Chief David Downey discussed the budget cuts he said are decimating his department.

The department began idling fire units this week after exceeding its overtime budget. Next year's budget proposed by Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez calls for more cuts to the department.

"What I'm faced now with is a budget that is declining. This is the fifth consecutive year that the fire department budget has declined, so we have been maintaining with less -- not for this year -- but the last five years," Downey told Local 10 on Wednesday. "I've been a firefighter for 30 years. Twenty of those years I rode the trucks. I still remember where I came from."

The proposed budget for the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1 calls for a $15 million shortfall for the fire rescue department's budget. The department will also need to lay off 149 firefighters.

"We're at a stage now in my career that I've never expected to see. We've never laid off a firefighter. We've never reduced service, and these are things that we're doing now," said Downey.

Downey said his goal for response time remains the same -- six minutes.

"They'll be there. They will enjoy the same professional service from firefighters and paramedics of Miami-Dade Fire Rescue they've always come to expect," he said.