MIAMI (CBSMiami) – A Miami-Dade Fire Rescue boat is back and ready for action.

Miami-Dade’s Fire Boat North was put into service at Pelican Harbor Marina on the 79th Street Causeway, three years after two Miami-Dade fire boats were taken out of service due to county budget cuts and a dispute over staffing.

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“It’s a very valuable asset,” said Miami-Dade Division Fire Chief Jeff Strickland. “We are a marine area and a lot of people are enjoying the outdoors.”

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The deaths of two people on the water over the weekend highlights the importance of the fire boats. So does the July 4th crash that left four people dead when three boats collided in the dark waters of Biscayne Bay near Coconut Grove.

The fire boats were not in service that night. They had been sitting idle at PortMiami since 2011 due to budget issues, sparking anger from Jack Garcia, a retired fire boat captain whose son died in the July 4th crash.

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“It’s unfathomable that they took these things out of service,” Garcia said. “I’m happy they are back in service for those of us who are left behind to use the service.”

Under an agreement with several Miami-Dade municipalities, the county fire boat will go into service in the north end of the county while a city of Miami fire boat covers the south end. Garcia said it’s a good start but still not enough coverage on the water.

“This is a good step but we need to put both county boats back in service the way it used to be,” Garcia said. “We need full coverage of our coastal waters for our citizens.”


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