One Large Clark County Fire Department? How About Using Some Volunteers In The Valley?
There is a bill in Carson City that will consolidate the Valley's 4 major fire departments: Clark County, Las Vegas, Las Vegas And Henderson. This is actually stupid bill as no firefighters, chiefs or support staff would be let go, so there would be no cost savings, at least not iniatially. From the LVRJ: A bill to allow fire departments in Clark County to be consolidated was greeted with hostility by local governments and private ambulance companies Friday. In particular, they complained that nothing in Assembly Bill 278 guarantees there will be savings in firefighter or administrator pay. Also, the elected fire chief -- a position sought by the firefighters' union -- would have power to put private ambulance companies out of business and would be beholden to firefighters and not answerable to local governments, witnesses said. But Assemblyman Tick Segerblom, D-Las Vegas, contended his bill would bring savings, although he could not say how much. Under the bill, existing firefighters would be given "comparable" ranks and pay grades in the new consolidated fire department. "This ultimately will save money," Segerblom said. "We don't know for sure now (how much). Where there are four fire chiefs (Las Vegas, North Las Vegas, Henderson and Clark County), three would be eliminated and that saves $1 million off the top." But Assemblywoman Dina Neal, D-North Las Vegas, noted that nothing in the bill requires the deposed fire chiefs to be paid less and in fact their pay would not be reduced.http://www.lvrj.com/news/clark-county-fire-department-consolidation-bill-meets-hostility-119080309.html I can see if the consolidations would result in 3 fewer chiefs, training bureaus, inspectors and closing some stations that are close to one another, I can see the savings, but that is not what the bill calls for. As far as electing a Fire Chief, hey, why not? We elect sheriffs, whether they are the best qualified or not and if would make the chief responsible to the taxpayers. As long as they don't do the contract negotiations with the different unions, I have no problems with that. Having said that, I think we can also down size part of the Clark County Fire Department and convert some fire stations into volunteer stations. Now, I am not saying that you turn all the stations into volunteer stations- that would be stupid, but there at least 3 stations for sure that could be easily converted into volunteer stations. the Stations that should be converted are the Mountains Edge station, Station 66, #31 on Hollywood and #28 On West Sahara and the 215. All three of these stations just have 1 engine assigned to the station. So, you say, how can a huge fire department such as Clark County have a volunteer station in the middle of an urban area? Well, in New York City- not the suburbs of New York City, not in New York State, but in New York City, they have 9 volunteer fire departments within the City limits. Volunteer fire departments in New York City!! There are presently 9 Volunteer Fire Companies within the City of New York: West Hamilton Beach VFD, Queens Broad Channel VFD, Queens  Point Breeze VFD, Queens  Rockaway Point VFD, Queens Roxbury VFD, Queens Gerritsen Beach VFD, Brooklyn Edgewater Park Volunteer Hose Co #1, Bronx Richmond Engine Company, Richmondtown Oceanic Hook & Ladder Company, Staten Islandhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Organization_of_the_New_York_City_Fire_Department#Volunteer_fire_departments_in_New_York_City Some of these companies go on over 1000 calls a year. And these are not all in the "suburban" area of New York City. The Bronx. Brooklyn. Not exactly suburban areas of NYC. One company has it's terrority next to JFK Airport. So, even in New York City, they have volunteer fire departments. Of course, you may say these departments are old school, but in reality they are not and they did respond to the 9/11 disaster and the usual types of calls. So, are there large volunteer fire departments in the U.S.? Of course. The largest is Pasadena, TX, which is a suburb of Houston. http://pasadenavfd.com/ It covers 60 square miles and gets about 170 alarms a month, which is more than most fire stations have in the CCFD (not including medical emergencies) They run ladder trucks, pumpers and heavy rescue. It serves the 159th largest city in the U.S. So, it is clearly possible to convert these three CCFD into volunteer fire stations. For the most part, these three stations in CCFD respond to medical emergencies along with car accidents, false alarms and some fires. These three stations are in new areas of the Valley and are newer fire stations because they on the outskirts of the Valley. The houses and businesses are much newer, therefore better built (in theory) and less prone to fires. They are also located in residential areas, so finding volunteers will not be too difficult. As far as medical emergencies, they can have AMR and Medic West cover these areas with their ambulances and be first due. I am sure the usual CCFD and other union fire firefighters will decry this because they think the only true firefighter is a union firefighter and that is a load of crap. Most volunteers now days are well trained, and most of the time, as well trained as a full time firefighter. Especially on the engines. There is no reason why volunteers could not operate 3 engines in the Las Vegas Valley. If implemented, there would be about 36 firefighter positions lost or used for other positions like eliminate overtime problems or even put the heavy rescue and haz mat units back into service. So, if the Clark County commissioners, with the exception of Steve Sisolak, were not totally beholden to the public employee unions, this could be a possibility. But, in these difficult times for government, all things should be on the table, including placing volunteers in three fire CCFD stations in the Valley.
Grew up in Wauwatosa but graduated from Oconomowoc H.S.. graduated from U.W. Madison, after serving in the Air Force. Taught in MPS and Westfield School District. Coached Special Olympics for several years. Moved to Las Vegas 2 1/2 years ago and teach in the CCSD as a special education teacher.