The Clark County Fire Department firefighters Union, Local 1908 took out a full page advertisement on Monday in an effort to scare Clark County residents and County Commissioners into reversing a decision to close down the heavy duty and haz mat units and their associated rescue units. The County Commissioners today responded to the firefighters claim with articles in the Sun and LVRJ.
So, who is telling the truth? Who is lying. Well, the answer to both questions is that both are telling some truth and some things are lies.
First, the firefighters lie when they say that they offered cuts to the County. These "cuts" would have cost the County more than $3.8 million dollars. That is not a cut.
The union says that the heavy rescue responds to all sorts of emergencies. They do, but the vast majority of the calls are handled by engines and ladder trucks. Don't engine and or ladder trucks carry the Jaws of Life. If they don't they should, I am pretty sure that they probably do. Elevator rescues can be handled by engine and ladder trucks. Most Haz Mat incidents can done with regular engine crews. Most haz mat calls are for gas spills from car and truck accidents and broken natural gas mains. They don't need the haz mat crews except for extreme cases. Same with heavy rescue. Rapid Intervention teams can also be engine crews that are trained throughout the County.
Flash flooding is mostly handled by first in engine and truck crews. However, the high angle, trench and building collapse rescues do require specialized teams and that is where the City comes in. Time is usually not a major factor as the first in crews can stabilize the situation while they wait for the city's heavy rescue truck. The heavy rescue truck can respond most anywhere in the Valley (except Henderson) in 15 minutes or less.
Here is where the County Commission is lying. They state there will be no decrease in response times. That's just false. The first in company response time will be the same but the heavy rescue and haz mat trucks response time can be longer
They say that the haz mat truck was called out first in 45- 46 cases. Maybe yes, but how many times was it called out after the first arriving engines arrived on the scene. Rory Reid doesn't give that number.
So, what can they do. Cross staffing and cross training can be the solution. It is done all over the country, so it is not a new idea. I don't like the idea of totally dismantling the haz mat and rescue trucks. What I would like to see is that the units still be in place, but whatever station they are at, they also are on the engine crew and or truck crew. For instance, they could place the heavy rescue unit at the main fire station on Flamingo. The heavy rescue truck would be cross staffed with the ladder and engine crew members at the station. That way, you will save the unit, free up personnel, save money and maintain service. There is no reason why crews cannot be cross staffed and trained. The same would be true with the Haz Mat crew.
The Milwaukee Fire department does this with their Haz Mat unit. They operate out of a station on 84th St. and the crew operates both the Haz Mat truck and engine. So, they respond to medical emergencies, fire calls and most haz mat calls. Clark County can do this and they can do the same with the heavy rescue truck- cross train and cross staff the truck.
So, if the firefighters don't like my proposal, then all they are really after is the over time check. If the County doesn't like my solution, then maybe they are making election year threats.
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