Firehouse® Interview: Las Vegas Fire Chief Mario H. Treviño

Editor-in-Chief Harvey Eisner interviews the fire service veteran who has led Las Vegas Fire & Rescue since 1996.

Mario H. Treviño has been the chief of Las Vegas Fire & Rescue since 1996. He has 28 years of experience in the fire service, having previously served with the Seattle Fire Department, where he rose through the ranks to the level of deputy fire chief. Treviño graduated summa cum laude from Seattle...

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Treviño: Right. We have different strategies. There's still quite a bit of land here that's controlled by the Bureau of Land Management and we work with them pretty extensively. We have another seven to 10 sites identified through BLM that they're going to give us for fire stations, for a new training center, for those kinds of things. And then, as I said, if we—if we're able to get property from developers, we'll do that.

Pretty much the last priority is when we have to purchase property from the city general fund, and we do that as well. In fact, we bought two station sites within six months, so we're exploring every angle.

Firehouse: Do you figure you'll double in size in 10 years, or sooner or longer?

Treviño: As far as the fire department goes, I think we'll double within five to seven years.

Firehouse: What would be the manpower requirements in that time? Do you have any number, like another 100 members, 200, 300?

Treviño: You know, I couldn't tell you. That would take some pencil-and-paper.

Firehouse: The automatic aid works well with both Clark County and Las Vegas. You have a new communications center here, so you dispatch for those departments also?

Treviño: That's right.

Firehouse: Do the departments have a single academy?

Treviño: No. In the past, we've done cooperative training processes. But as it stands now, we have a fully staffed training center and we do our own training now.

Now, that doesn't mean that we don't train with the other jurisdictions. As far as in-service training goes, it's important to train with the other jurisdictions that you're going to be responding with. But as far as the academies, we have our own. Clark County has their own. And Henderson just built a training center about two years ago. And I don't know if you'd had a look at that, but that's really a nice facility. And so they're doing there own training now as well.

We'll train North Las Vegas or Boulder City firefighters through our academy occasionally, and occasionally they will train in Clark County, so there's a little bit of that cooperation still going on.

Firehouse: How do you keep up with permits and inspections and things like that?

Treviño: Well, that's actually a great question. That's something people don't recognize typically. When they think of growth, they think of how are we going to fight the fire in these places?

But the workload in our fire prevention division has increased, I think, 400% over the past 10 years and yet the staff has not. We have not been able to add staff as we'd like to.

What that means is that the fire prevention folks have to come up with really innovative ways to keep on top of things and so far that is still working for us, but frankly, we're at a point where we really need additional staff and we're making that case with the budget folks.

Firehouse: You said when you had moved to where your house is, there was an area where there were no buildings or anything, and now it's a totally built-up neighborhood.

Treviño: That's right. It's almost solid. There are a few open lots still, but it's almost completely filled with businesses - and I mean there's everything from restaurants to gas stations to supermarkets to health clubs, you name it.

And that's one of the things that's characteristic of Las Vegas, the Las Vegas that people don't know. When people come to visit Las Vegas, they know the hotels and they know the casinos, but they don't get out in the neighborhoods much, unless they know someone who lives there. And when they get out to the neighborhoods, what they find is that we're a very spread-out community. We're not centralized really at all, which is atypical when you compare us to another city like San Francisco or Seattle or New York, cities like that. We're very spread out.

So your community services, whether they're grocery stores or, as I said, health clubs, anything, tend to be in the area there. So you don't normally drive downtown to the Strip for entertainment or those kinds of things if you live here. Now, of course, if you live here what you find is that people come to visit, then they want to visit the casinos and so that's when you visit.