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Gimenez Fire Rescue Boat Plan Meeting Opposition

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MIAMI (CBS4) – Chris Robins and Pam Seitz thought they were going to die last week when their tiny boat capsized in rough seas near Key Biscayne.

“We were saying goodbye to each other,” said Robins. “It was a very horrifying experience.”

For 18 hours they were battered by waves as they clung to a buoy. The barnacles on that buoy sliced away at the couple’s bodies, scarring their necks, arms stomach and backs.

“And the jelly fish, I mean we could feel them,” recalled Seitz.

“Every five seconds we were getting bit,” said Robins.

Finally, a boater spotted the couple and called Miami-Dade Fire to come and rescue them. They believe if they had been out there for just an hour more they might not have survived.

“Thank God they were around because she was going through major shock dehydration and hypothermia and stuff like that and they really helped us out a lot,” remembered Robins.

But now there’s a possibility fire rescue boat one might not be around. Mayor Carlos Gimenez wants to cut one of only two Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Boats.

“We do have 400 million dollar deficit. We’re looking at a different ways of staffing that boat,” said Mayor Gimenez. “That boat, in my opinion, is being staffed in a wasteful manner.”

Gimenez’s plan would pull fire rescue crews from the ground and send them onto the water only after a call comes in for help.

A move the former fire chief believes would be more cost effective. But some of the men who man those fire rescue boats believe the change could cost lives.

“If you cut any services there’s the possibility of issues with that,” said Gimenez. “But then you have (only) so much resources. We don’t have a paramedic or a cop on every corner. So you do the best with what you have and so when you look at how you allocate your resources where is the best use of the dollar.”

Chris Robins and Pam Seitz couldn’t disagree more. They believe the county should be adding to it water patrols.

“You know you can’t put a price on people’s lives and that’s pretty much what’s happening,” said Robins.

Off-duty fire fighters told CBS4 News the boats are the only ones on the water staffed with paramedics and dive teams. They also say they are the only ones out there capable of fighting fires.

Hoping to save both fire boats, they have launched a campaign called Save the Fire Boats and even started up a Facebook page for the effort.

They’re hoping to convince county commissioners to stop the mayor from going through with his plan. It’s an issue the county commission will discuss on Thursday

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