Surrounded by the love, respect and admiration of family, friends and coworkers, Fire Chief Dave Downey assumed command of Miami-Dade Fire Rescue (MDFR) on Feb. 1.
MDFR celebrated its first ever Change of Command ceremony in order to pay tribute to retiring Fire Chief William “Shorty” Bryson, a 38-year veteran of the fire service and the new Fire Chief Dave Downey, who brings 30 years experience as a firefighter, company officer, battalion chief, division chief, and assistant chief of operations. The ceremony took place at MDFR’s Training Facility located at 9300 NW 41 St. in Doral.
Changes of command ceremonies are steep in tradition; these ceremonies are a formal, symbolic passing of responsibility, authority and accountability of command from one leader to another. The event began with the preliminary honors, and ended with the symbolic passing of the guidon, or “colors.” Passing the guidon from one chief to another represents the passing of trust and wellbeing of a sector from one to another, but it also perpetuates the seamless tradition of vigilance, service and integrity.
“I am torn even now leaving this wonderful organization,” Bryson said. “I leave knowing that Chief Dave Downey knows this department better than anyone. I see good things coming from his leadership and wish him all the luck.”
In addition to Chief Downey’s work experience, he has completed numerous professional courses and earned his associate and bachelor’s degrees in Fire Science, as well as a master’s degree in Public Administration. Moreover, he has certifications as a technical rescue technician, flight medic, task force leader and a fire instructor. Currently, he serves as a National Urban Search and Rescue (US&R) Task Force representative with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
MDFR originated as a single-unit fire patrol in 1935. It has grown into the largest fire rescue department in the Southeast. According to the 2011 National Run Survey published in the June, July, and August 2012 issues of Firehouse Magazine, MDFR was ranked the fifth largest fire department in the U.S. and the department’s Aerial 2, stationed in Liberty City, is the busiest aerial-ladder-truck in North America for the third consecutive year. This ranking is a result of responding to 5,190 calls last year, 389 responses more than the second place aerial from Denver, CO and 650 calls more than the third-ranked aerial in San Francisco, CA.