Some of the bravest and most dedicated members of Miami-Dade Fire Rescue were honored Saturday.
The department's Medal Day Ceremony held at loanDepot park honored hundreds of recipients of the Employee Valor and Excellence Awards. Those honored were celebrated for their meritorious efforts, selfless courage and devotion to duty - including during the pandemic.
"Their unwavering strength, professionalism and exceptional leadership in the fire service is demonstrated here today as well as daily throughout our Department, and I couldn't be more proud," MDFR Chief Alan Cominsky said.
MDFR honored employees for their contributions to the department, including the Gold Medal of Valor, Bronze Medal of Valor, Life Saving Award, Major Campaign Award, Employee Excellence and the Unit Citation Award.
“What does it take to be a first responder? What makes a first responder? Well, there’s really no blueprint," retired MDFR firefighter Richard Ramirez said. "I can tell you, these last two years have certainly shown that the job of a first responder is not a defined one.”
The event remembered the hardships of the last two years, including the Surfside condo collapse tragedy. A specific mission ribbon was given to every person involved in the logistics and assistance in the collapse.
“Our Miami-Dade Fire Rescue went above and beyond and today, I am filled with love, pride, and sadness,” Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said.
For MDFR Division Chief Jason Fernandez, events like these are important because they boost morale and serve as a reminder to pay respect to all the lives they've touched.
“It's important to remember those individuals that you were able to make an impact on, and not lose the memory of those we weren’t able to save," Fernandez said. "It's incredibly important for us to remember those individuals, and also keep at the front of our minds, all the good work that’s being done and the sacrifice our families and the individuals that work every day to protect the community make.”