Robert Maler Makes Life Miserable For County Lifeguards

When New Line Cinema decides to make a sequel to the movie Horrible Bosses, studio executives should use Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Chief Robert Maler for inspiration. The 33-year county veteran, who oversees more than two dozen lifeguards protecting beachgoers at Crandon and Haulover parks, has been the subject of four county investigations into his abrasive, demoralizing management style.

Just last year, the fire department's human resources division and the internal affairs unit of Miami-Dade Police investigated allegations by 13 Crandon Park lifeguards that Maler created a hostile work environment. "Maler is a despot," says Alex Quesada, one of the accusers. "He is not right in the head."

The IA probe sustained 11 allegations against Maler, including:

• Disputing female lifeguard Tayli Ramos's claim that her menstrual cycle was the reason she went home sick one day.

• Docking one day's pay from Francisco DePinedo even though the lifeguard had received permission from another supervisor to take an emergency day off to fix a busted water pipe at his home.

• Purposely making Julio Freixas wait 20 minutes to be relieved because the lifeguard asked to use the bathroom.

Similar complaints against Maler, who declined to comment , were probed in 1997 and 2007. Both concluded the captain's rude ways contributed to an unhealthy work environment that interfered with public safety. And despite recommendations that Maler have limited to no interaction with the lifeguards, he was never removed from his post.

This past September 16, a disciplinary panel again recommended that Maler "no longer be involved with day-to-day operations of the units and the employees." Eight months later, Maler -- who makes $81,683 a year plus benefits -- is still overseeing the lifeguards. Meanwhile, the fire department -- at the behest of Mayor Carlos Gimenez -- recently fired two lifeguards to help trim the budget.

Quesada and three colleagues (who won't go on the record for fear of retaliation) tell Banana Republican that Maler has a godfather who protects him: his boss, Special Operations Division Chief Raymond Barreto. Indeed, though 26 lifeguards signed a February 28 letter to Barreto pleading that he remove Maler, the $138,668-a-year division chief is not budging.

Barreto insists the efforts to remove Maler are motivated by a few disgruntled lifeguards who intimidated others into joining their rebellion.

"I have never witnessed Chief Maler disrespecting others or abusing authority," says Barreto, who denies favoring him. "He has faced the daunting task of turning what was once an easy job for vacationing college students into a professional safety agency."

Doc 032212

Follow Miami New Times on Facebook and Twitter @MiamiNewTimes.

Sponsor Content

My Voice Nation Help

I worked in Crandon Park for over a year. I got forced to resigned to my position by Mr. Maler because a copy of my phone bill was sticking out of my personal bag and Mr. Maler got it out and claimed that was reading materials.

The rule was no reading materials on the tower and I acepted my responsability.  

I don't think Mr. Maler was a bad boss instead a consience supervisor who wanted the best for the lifeguards and for the community.

Lifeguards abused and broke the rules all the times and even supervisors like lui and phill were breaking the rules by allowing staff do whatever they wanted in Mr. Maler's absence.

I personaly withnesed the following : Laptops inside the towers, supervisors playing cards with lifeguards, Lifeguards studing, Lifeguards driking at parties held at the park, lifeguards getting drunk to work, gosiping between supervisors and staff pertaining to Mr. Maler, TV on the towers, lifeguard sleeping during training and many more violations allowed by the supervisors.    The only supervisor that I saw enforcing the rules 100% was dunga, the other two with all due respect were no even good.

Lifeguards should understand that the safety rules are stablisched for a reason and must be enfoced at all times and Mr. Barreto was right  he transformed that agency into a professional.  The first thing that Mr. Maler should of done is get rid of the two supervisors working at crandon and hire two supervisors who understand the rules, respect the supervisor and adhere to the policies.

I reconized most of the names I see on the list and these are employees that had issues in other beaches and locations and they are instigators. these employees are the ones that are disrupting the morale of the divition.   

I personaly dislikes Mr.Maler, however I see the good of what he wants to do for the county and what we do, the service we provide to our residents.   


What confidence do you have in the safety of your children while playing at a Miami /beach? Is the lifeguard in the tower really watching your child or is he or she reading a book, sleeping, texting or calling on a cell phone? I was a lifeguard many years ago and have seen first hand that the above unprofessional activity does occur on a regular basses. It only take a few minutes for a swimmer to go under water and drown. There are rules put into place. To be followed by lifeguards, to provide the public the best possible safety while enjoying these beaches. If a person can not participate in required lifeguard training and or is not physically able to perform expected lifeguard services due to menstrual cycle complaints. Do you really want them watching your children while they swim? If there is no one available to relieve a lifeguard, for a break, while they are watching a beach with people swimming in it, would you rather that lifeguard wait for a relief to be found or just walk away and have no one watching the beach? Do you not think that if a person is trying to hold people accountable to their job requirements, and make the lifeguard industry a more professional safety agency, people are not going to be happy with them . Can you not see the full picture ? In the past life guarding was just a summer job. Lifeguards had the image of a hard body, long haired, dope smoking, kid. Anyone trying to change the image and hold people accountable to provide the best service possible is going to ruffle some feathers. Francisco, who is watching you kids at the beach?

Now Trending

Miami Concert Tickets

From the Vault