Report Suggests Trimming Vegas Firefighter Duties

LAS VEGAS -- The Las Vegas Fire Department needs serious changes, according to a report released by an independent consulting firm.

The report issued 23 recommendations, listing eight of them as critical.

The report slammed the city in several areas, including sick pay and overtime for firefighters.

Both sides said the report isn't surprising and any changes could be a long way off.

The $155,000 report could save the city millions of dollars should leaders implement some of the nearly two dozen recommendations, according to the report.

Las Vegas Fire Chief Mike Myers said the report has given him and the city council something to consider.

"Just like any other sector of business, we are no different," he said. "We have to figure out how to do things better."

One suggestion was to eliminate city-operated ambulances and outsource the service to a private company.

The report said that move could save the city up to $18 million.

"It's no small feat," Myers said. "That is a huge challenge and we've heard those kinds of things before. This is not the first time I've heard those kinds of things."

Firefighter union president Dean Fletcher said those kinds of cuts would take firefighters staffing those ambulances off the street.

"If you make any drastic changes to that … you'll lose the benefit of a lower insurance rate and your response times will increase," Fletcher said.

Another area the report highlighted was sick leave and overtime pay.

The report said the fire department was one of the worst offenders last year.

"How you pay overtime, how you manage overtime, is always a big issue and it can be expensive to operate overtime and any business wants to control its sick leave," Myers said.

Fletcher said the report offered nothing that hasn't been discussed before and it's up to city officials to decide whether they want a world class fire department or not.

City officials said it will take some time for them to go through the report and figure out what to do next. According to the city, the fire department's budget has grown much faster than what the city can afford and they need to look at ways to run the department more efficiently.


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