Loss of Fire Apparatus Concerns North Bay Village (FL)

Concern has grown among North Bay Village (FL) residents and officials after reports that the village may lose its fire engine.

The fire engine, a vehicle equipped with a pumper and a 750-gallon water tank to put out fires, is currently housed at county station No. 27.

A divided county commission voted not to increase the tax rate for the 2013-14 fiscal year. For now, the decision puts six fire trucks on the chopping block, including the fire engine that services North Bay Village.

“Our village is surrounded by water and we have two drawbridges, so God forbid we have a catastrophe and the bridges are closed and we have a fire,” Mayor Connie Leon-Kreps said. “Then what? We have to rely on Miami Shores? We have to rely on Miami? No. That’s not right.”

The three-island municipality of North Bay Village is accessed only through the two drawbridges. One is to the west connecting the village to Miami, and the other is to the east, providing access to Miami Beach.

The station’s fire engine, which also provides first-aid help, responded to 823 incidents during 2012, or roughly 69 calls per month. Half of those calls came from North Bay Village, Fire-Rescue spokeswoman Griselle Marino said. The fire engine also serves as a backup to the stations in Miami Shores and North Miami.

But Interim Village Manager Frank Rollason, who has spoken with county Mayor Carlos Gimenez on the matter, said this number should not factor in the decision of whether the fire engine should stay or go.

“It’s not here because of the number of calls,” Rollason said. “It’s here because of the bridges.”

Residents and elected officials plan to fight the proposed cut of the fire engine by reaching out to county commissioners and attending the budget hearings in September.

The proposed fire-engine elimination will result in a $2.6 million expense reduction in the county’s budget, which includes personnel costs, said Vanessa Santana-Penate, a spokeswoman for Miami-Dade County.

If the fire engine is eliminated, North Bay Village will rely on fire-engine services from the nearest stations, such as the one in Miami Shores.

For more information, view www.miamiherald.com

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