Members from Miami Beach, FL Local 1510 are embarking on a groundbreaking mission.
Local 1510 President Adonis Garcia and seven other union fire fighters were deployed to Israel Monday to assist the first responders called into service after the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas-led militants.
“Right now, with the war that’s going on in Gaza with Israel, there are 2,500 national fire fighters for the fire department there,” said Garcia. “Of the 2,500, approximately 600 have been called to the front lines for the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF),” he said. “I got the idea, why can’t we send a team, I want to go help out.”
In June 2021, the Israeli Defense Forces’ National Rescue Unit played a vital role in searching for survivors and victims of the Surfside Condo Collapse in Miami Beach, a tragic event that resulted in the loss of 98 lives.
Now, this team is meeting the call for aid.
“The courage of IAFF members never ceases to draw my admiration,” said General President Edward Kelly. “Our Miami Beach Local 1510 members who volunteered to serve the people of Israel and are currently in harm’s way embody the oath of a fire fighter. Please keep them in your prayers.”
On Oct.18, the Miami Beach Commission unanimously approved international volunteer travel for fire fighters. This marks the first instance where city fire fighters have been authorized to journey to an active war zone.
“The only thing I asked for is it be covered as a work-related injury if you get hurt or killed,” said Garcia. “So, they agreed to it, and I was very proud of that,” he said. “We’ll be covered exactly as if we were in Miami Beach.”
As volunteers, Garcia and the team are stationed in Ayalon, Jerusalem, and Haifa as part of the IDF Emergency Volunteers Project, providing aid to the State of Israel during times of crisis. They underwent training with Israel’s National Fire and Rescue Authority before starting their assignments.
“I can think of 100 reasons not to go, but there’s only one clear reason to go and it’s 100% the right thing to do,” said Garcia.
“These brave Miami Beach fire fighters, led by Local 1510 President Adonis Garcia, and who go above and beyond the call of duty, who consistently strive for excellence, and who inspire others with their unwavering commitment, are the true embodiment of meritorious service,” said 12th District Vice President Walter Dix.
The team is scheduled to return Nov. 20, concluding their two-week mission.