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

Comments (6)
  1. UckTheFunions says:

    I dont know what these dumb hose holders think!! Their jobs (and the boats) are paid with taxes. if there are not enough taxes then the boats and hose holders need to go.

  2. Sam says:

    Have you EVER heard of this boat actually saving a burning boat? Cut the Waste,

  3. OvertaxedBusinessOwner says:

    Good comment Sam!

    More government waste proposed by the County. We have the Coast Guard at the ready. Why duplicate what we already have with the Coast Guard with County Services?

    Would someone please revive Ronald Reagan: the scarriest words private enterprises want to hear: “We are from the Government, and we are here to help”. Sure…… Eliminate all government services and privatize them. and you’ll see how much money will be saved.

  4. MARK HUGHES says:

    Maybe if Gimenez cut some spending to his friends and family we could keep the boat.

  5. Big Lou says:

    Most of you need to do a little research before posting nonsense. The U.S. Coast Guard will NOT fight fire unless it is on their vessel nor do they have paramedics on board their vessels. Dade County has one of the largest boating communities in the U.S. And the Coast Guard is extremely busy doing law enforcement which is the primary duty of their branch. The Dade County waters are the responsibility of Dade County. The Miami Dade Fire Rescue Department is responsible for these territories. Why is it so many of you post such negative opinions without correct information?
    Why so quick to shut down a system that has saved lives and property? And why all the hate for firefighters. How much would you accept for pay doing what they do and how well would you or could you do it if at all?
    We should all be proud of our fire department and the boats

  6. I pay Taxes too says:

    It’s amazing how the perception of the coast guard is misguided. They are a top notch outfit. But be informed, They do not fight boat fires, if they pull you from the water they are only first aid trained. They will give you a ride to get medical aid…..if you last that long. They don’t have divers either. With the Fire Boat, You get a floating emergency room with trained fire fighters, Paramedics, and rescue divers. Just ask the countless people who they SAVED how they feel about budget cuts. As for the first poster, I hope you never need to call for help and no one shows up. The fire boat runs ALL calls, not just boat fires. Take the time to become informed before you start running your mouth. After all, it’s better to keep quiet and let people think your ignorant than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.

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