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MIKE MYERS was sworn in as chief of the Las Vegas Fire & Rescue Department on Jan. 19, 2011. He commands 18 fire stations and more than 650 employees, who provide fire suppression, emergency medical services, hazardous materials incidents, bomb squad and fire investigations, technical rescue operations, fire prevention and life safety education, and staff the 911 fire and EMS call center.
Myers worked his way through the ranks as a firefighter, paramedic and a fire training officer before being promoted to assistant fire chief in 2002. From August 2007 to January 2008, he was interim fire chief. In addition, Myers has served as a deputy fire chief responsible for medical services and communications. In this position, he oversaw an improvement in cardiac arrest patient survivability by more than 40%.
Myers is studying toward a bachelor of science degree in health care administration at the University of Phoenix. He is on the adjunct faculty of the College of Southern Nevada’s Fire Science Department, where he designed and developed the Advanced Strategies and Tactics curriculum. Myers is second vice president of the Nevada Fire Chiefs Association, treasurer of the Southern Nevada Fire Chiefs Association and a principal member of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Ambulance Regulation Committee.
The interview was conducted by Firehouse® Magazine Editor-in-Chief Harvey Eisner.
Firehouse: Las Vegas Fire & Rescue (LVFR) recently went through the accreditation process for the second time, and has been reaccredited by the Commission on Fire Accreditation International (CFAI). What does that mean for the department?
Myers: It’s a learning process every time. Going through the accreditation process, if taken seriously, will help your organization drive better performance and ultimately become more efficient. We were placed on deferred status at the close of 2010 and had a great deal of work to do if we wanted the accreditation back. Accreditation is about demonstrating your organization’s efficiencies and performance. It’s about demonstrating that your organization is serious about excellence and has programs in place to assure excellence and keep you there.
Firehouse: You are only one of a select few departments rated Class 1 by ISO. How do you keep up that rating?
Myers: This hasn’t been easy. First, maintaining an ISO Class 1 rating has to be a priority with the city, and it is here in Las Vegas. The executive staff must be educated on the process and it helps to have a planning team in place year-round. Our executive staff, along with an analyst, our CFO (chief financial officer) and several fire officer-level personnel, serves as the team for Las Vegas Fire & Rescue. We know how many points we receive for every item we stock and for every location we have a resource housed. Data and records management must be very organized. I would argue that every department needs a good analyst directly assigned to the executive team to manage both ISO and accreditation programs.
Firehouse: What specific goals have you set for the department and how do you stay on top of them?
Myers: We just finished updating our strategic plan for next fiscal year, which lists about 100 goals for us to meet next year. Some of the more significant goals we forwarded to the city manager are:
• Operationally – Decrease call processing times; decrease out-of-barn times; 80% of residential fires confined to the room of origin; 30% of all witnessed cardiac arrest victims to walk out of the hospital neurologically intact; and reduce fire deaths (we had one fire death in 2011).
• Administratively – Decrease on-the-job injury rates; decrease preventable vehicle accidents; decrease employee sick-leave use; decrease overtime costs; and increase the revenue recovery for EMS transports.