More than 400 celebrators including family, friends, elected officials, and Miami-Dade Fire Rescue staff saw Firefighter Recruit Class 124 graduate at the MDFR Training Facility in Doral on January 17.
“I congratulate Chief (Dave) Downey and his staff for obtaining the SAFER (Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response) grant that helped fund your class,” said Commissioner Sally Heyman.
Miami-Dade Fire Rescue received $11,431,650 on Nov. 29, 2013, a federal grant that prevented layoff of 59 firefighters, closure of two fire engine companies, an aerial platform company and staff reductions during the next two years, she pointed out. Recruit Class 124 is the first group of new firefighters hired since 2009.
“I promised you that if you hang in there despite all the rhetoric, that you would remain a member of the MDFR family,” stated
Chief Downey, noting the group of 40 men and women bring extensive experience to MDFR with more than half of the new recruits having served as military veterans and with other career fire departments.
“Just a few short months ago, the fate of this class was uncertain,” said. Carlos Alvear, a Marine veteran and the Class Leader.
“We didn’t know if we were going to be unemployed or trying to get our old jobs back and hope for redemption. A few of us had children on the way, and still do. We left everything for the opportunity to work in the best fire department in the nation,” said Alvear.
“You can be proud of MDFR and our Local 1403 as we have pioneered Emergency Medical Services, Air Rescue, HazMat, Technical Rescue Team, Urban Search and Rescue, and the Venom Program that I created,” affirmed Local 1403 Union President Al Cruz. MDFR employs almost 2000 career firefighters and is the largest fire rescue department in the Southeast.
Assistant Fire Chief Fernando Fernandez, retiring after 37 years in fire service and 30 years with MDFR, asked the newly-graduated firefighters to never do anything to discredit MDFR’s patch and to humbly wear it with pride remembering daily that public servants have greater responsibilities.
“Your job is to face the perils, to protect the lives and property of the people you serve,” stressed Chief Fernandez.
The recruits underwent an intense 10- week training under the command of Chief Jeff Strickland. On graduation day, Class 124 firefighters displayed their abilities in a practical skills demonstration wearing their brand new bunker gear.
For information, contact MDFR Public Affairs Bureau at 786-331-5200.