Las Vegas Casino Picks Up Tab for New Fire Station

MGM is paying to have a new fire station built for Clark County.


LAS VEGAS, Nev. -- It's a deal that has Clark County fire officials not only heaving a sigh of relief, but smiling.

A new fire house is under construction. An engine and two squads are on order, and it's not costing them a penny.

MGM is picking up the tab.

Fire officials were concerned when they learned of MGM's plan to develop a 70-acre parcel with hotels, casinos, a convention center and condos. "When completed, there could be as many as 80,000 people on site," said Clark County Senior Deputy Chief Stephen P. Ratigan. "They are building a mid-size American city."

Ratigan said the department's 680 personnel are already maxed out handling about 117,000 calls annually with more than 40 percent of those on the infamous Las Vegas strip.

The majority of those responses involved EMS incidents, and it generally takes about eight minutes to reach the strip.

Finding a site for a fire station is not easy in Las Vegas especially near the strip where prices have ranged $25-30M per acre.

Negotiations with MGM officials started in 2005, at least two years before the county adopted a High Impact Project Ordinance that requires developers to consider how the building will affect services.

"This is our first venture involving a private developer. They are being good corporate citizens by stepping up. We also reminded them they had a solid brand to protect."

When MGM lawyers wondered if the crews assigned to Station 32 would respond to incidents off-site, Ratigan showed them a colored overlay on a map indicating that they also own the majority of the surrounding properties.

"Of course, these people will respond to other calls," he said. "We're trying to cut down on response times."

There was give and take on both sides as the negotiations continued for about six months. While typical stations are about 10,500 square feet, this one is 6,428. It will feature two drive-through bays rather than four or more.

It will be a yellow cinderblock/stucco structure in order for it to fit in with nearby buildings.

The firefighters held their ground when MGM tried to nix plans for a built-in BBQ on the patio. Developers said they were worried about residents in nearby towers who may be bothered by seeing the smoke or smelling the food. A line of trees is planned in an effort to hide it.

They also will keep the flag pole, and MGM also relented by adding additional parking spaces. Developers originally balked at that, saying one space cost $25,000.

Six personnel are on duty at engine/rescue companies per shift. The next recruit academy begins in January.

One feature unique to the station will be the monorail beam. With the train running directly above, one of the supports is in the building.

Ratigan said sound-proofing should protect crews from the rumbling train. Plans call for Station 32 at the City Center to open next fall.

"This project has opened doors for us. Other developers are considering agreements," he said.

Fire department officials also have inked a deal with the Convention Center Authority to build a station on its site on Paradise Drive.

"This is a public/public agreement," he said, adding that Station 33 will be open by the end of '09.

Fire and EMS calls in Clark County are handled by 26 career and 13 volunteer companies. "We have 7,000 square miles to take care of -- from the Utah to the Colorado, Arizona and Nevada borders -- We're busy."