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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We have our automated vehicle-locator system pretty much up and running with the new dispatch center. And the new dispatch center will also be affording us a records management system. We're also very technology heavy in computers. We have mobile dispatch terminals and data terminals on the apparatus.

Firehouse: With major events, I was going to ask you about the golf carts and things like that. I saw your vans outside. You host many major events, so can you just explain how some of that works when you're planning for a major event with EMS and you have that type of capability, how it helps you out?

Treviño: We've been able to incorporate the bike medic program pretty well. What we find is that in large, crowded areas such as the "Fremont Street Experience" - which is a large outdoor canopy and light show over three blocks of casinos downtown - it's almost impossible to get a medic unit to the patient, so the bike medic program works well for that.

And, as you said, we do have the golf cart that was donated by the hotels that we can use to get a patient in and out of a crowded area.

It's one of those items that needs constant attention and you have to be aware of what's happening in the community - for anything from a fireworks show to a musical concert, we offer the bike medic system to just about anybody who needs it.

Firehouse: Can you describe your philosophy on rewarding personnel and recognizing them for certain events? You said a lot of people from the staff helped you out with the floods.

Treviño: We've been focusing on that quite a bit lately. As you said, during the floods last July 8, I gave a certificate of commendation to each person who came into work that day. Because the whole department did such an outstanding job, I thought that they all deserved to be recognized.

We've also just implemented an award system. When we had our fire department seasonal party at the end of the year, I gave out large trophies to the firefighter of the year, to the employee of the year, to the EMT/paramedic of the year and to two people who I recognized with what we call the Fire Chief's Award of Distinction. I think that was very well received. It's a great way to let people know that what they do on a day-to-day basis is not only important, but it's recognized by the department, by the administration. We also issue press releases to let people know that these are our stars.

I think the entire department is outstanding in terms of their commitment to the community, but it's important to recognize people when they do something extra special, and we're going to be expanding that program even more this year.

Firehouse: I understand you have access to or you're on a TV channel, or you have programs on a TV channel. Can you tell me about that?

Treviño: It's a television station that is donated by the local cable provider through a contract with the city and with the county and the other jurisdictions.

We have a television station that's dedicated just to the City of Las Vegas. It's a 24-hour-per-day television station that is sent over cable to every household in the valley. And the city runs any number of programs on it, whether they're informational items or advertisements for positions available, and pretty much whatever. The fire department has always been one of the key components of the city's communications system and we have shows that are dedicated to the fire department or that are information notices from the fire department to the community. We have really high hopes for the station.

Firehouse: I understand you're receiving new apparatus painted red instead of white. Could you explain that? Does that help with morale?

Treviño: We made the decision to change from the traditional white apparatus that we've had here to red. And the reasons - actually, I think you hit on the most important one and that is the morale of the department.

But I think even beyond that, in my experience people expect to see fire trucks that are painted red. One of the anecdotes that I can tell you is that when schoolchildren come to stations to visit and they're shown these gleaming white fire trucks, they go back to the school and they send a thank-you card. A thank-you card is usually like a crayon drawing of the fire station and invariably the fire trucks are painted red in these drawings. So even though the kids were just shown the white trucks, they really think red.