Firefighters in Miami Beach are concerned that nepotism played a role in selecting this year’s recruit class, creating an unfair hiring process and possible safety risks, according to three current firefighters who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
More than 500 people applied for coveted positions with the Miami Beach Fire Department last fall and 124 made it past the written exam and physical agility test to the interview round. Of the 21 recruits ultimately selected for fire department training, which ends on May 10, six are related to current employees including Chief Virgil Fernandez, two division chiefs, a lieutenant and the local union president.
“It’s not fair,” said one Miami Beach firefighter, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he feared reprisals. Picking people with family connections to fill fire department jobs prevents other qualified applicants from getting hired, he said.