Las Vegas Fire & Rescue: Department Profile

Timothy R. Szymanski profiles a fire department that, in the past five years, has nearly doubled its workforce and opened five new fire stations. The department is looking into building two more stations and with it, hiring more personnel.


In the past five years, one fire department in the country has nearly doubled its workforce and opened five new fire stations. The department is looking into building two more stations and with it, hiring more personnel. That department is Las Vegas Fire & Rescue. Las Vegas is part of what is...


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In the past five years, one fire department in the country has nearly doubled its workforce and opened five new fire stations. The department is looking into building two more stations and with it, hiring more personnel. That department is Las Vegas Fire & Rescue.

Las Vegas is part of what is known as the "Las Vegas Valley" in Clark County of southern Nevada. It is one of the fastest-growing areas in the Untied States and one of the most visited tourist attractions in the world. The Valley consists of the city of Las Vegas, city of North Las Vegas, Boulder City, city of Henderson and unincorporated Clark County. Clark County covers approximately 8,000 square miles with a population of approximately 1.7 million people. The city of Las Vegas covers 131 square miles with approximately 576,000 people. The city is located in the center of Clark County. It is estimated that approximately 5,000 people move to the Las Vegas Valley each month. Its climate averages temperatures in the low 100s during the summer and 60s in the winter with skies clear 96% of the time and less than four inches of rainfall each year.

The city of Las Vegas was founded in 1905 in the middle of the Mojave Desert. Because of its natural springs, it was an ideal location for a stop along a new railroad that linked Los Angeles with Salt Lake City. In 1906, the Las Vegas Volunteer Fire Department was founded and on Aug. 1, 1942, the Las Vegas Fire Department became a full-time department with 15 personnel and four pieces of equipment working out of one fire station. Today, the department consists of 648 employees with 64 pieces of equipment working out of 16 fire stations. Clark County, North Las Vegas, Boulder City and Henderson each has its own fire department with full-time personnel.

Since 1990, Las Vegas Fire & Rescue (LVFR) has been an ISO Class 1 fire department and that was reviewed again in 2003. Earlier this year, the department was accredited by the Commission on Fire Accreditation International (CFAI) to become one of only approximately 10 fire departments that have attained both an ISO Class 1 rating and CFAI Accreditation status.

David L. Washington, a 32-year veteran of LVFR, is chief of the department, which is divided into four divisions: Administration, Fire Prevention, Operations and Support, each under the direction of a deputy fire chief. The offices are the Fire Chief's Office and the Office of Public Information & Education. There are three assistant fire chiefs on the department; two are assigned to Operations and one to Administration.

The Fire Chief's Office is responsible for the overall operation of the department. Budget, Chaplain Services and Fire Foundation are also a part of this office. Administration oversees fire training, health and safety, emergency management, payroll, clerical and Community Emergency Response Training (CERT). The deputy fire chief assigned to Fire Prevention is also the fire marshal for the city. There are two deputy fire marshals (holding battalion chief rank) in charge of fire inspections. Fire Protection Engineering is also part of this division, reviewing all plans for new buildings in the city.

Operations, the largest division of the department, is responsible for emergency response including fire suppression, emergency medical services, special operations, technical rescue, fire investigations, bomb squad, homeland security, crisis intervention, health and wellness, and drillmaster. Support is in charge of inventory control, the fire equipment shop, fire alarm office-communications, information technologies, construction projects, maps and cadet services.

Stations

Las Vegas operates 16 fire stations in the city. The design of most stations is the same, with the rescue unit and crew housed on one side of the station and fire crews on the other. The middle of the station is a common area consisting of a workout room (with full exercise equipment), kitchen, day room and offices.

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