LAS VEGAS (KXNT) – We often take them for granted until we really need them. Yet, recognition is order of the day in August for Las Vegas Fire and Rescue firefighters, who are observing two milestones in fire service for the city.
2017 marks the 110th anniversary of organized fire protection in the city of Las Vegas and the 75th anniversary of the present day full time department.
In August of 1907, the city passed its first ordinance that established a volunteer fire department for the newly formed city. Prior to that, there was no established fire protection organization protecting the city.
It was slow to evolve, but the volunteers provided protection as best they could. As time went by, the volunteers provided better and better protection for the community. In 1924, Harold Case, who worked for the power company, was appointed chief of the Las Vegas Fire Department. Under Chief Case each volunteer applicatnt was scrutinized closely for his civic mindedness and devotion to the department. Chief Case operated a tight department which was rivaled by full time fire departments across the country. In 1929 he purchased the department’s first resuscitator for emergency medical needs. By 1935 it was credited with saving the lives of ten newborn babies.
As time went by, the department was needed nearly 13 times a week, where volunteers had to leave their jobs to answer the emergency call, then go back to work. The volunteers convinced the chief it was time for full time personnel.
The chief developed a plan for 12 full time paid firefighters, the problem was there were not enough funds in the city coffers to make it happen. Despite the shortage of funding, the Mayor and City Commission approved the formation of a full time paid department. The Mayor and City Commission then requested an emergency loan for $20,000 from the State Board of Finance to hire the firefighters.
On August 1, 1942, the city was notified that the loan request was approved and the full time department is established. The fire chief and one engineer immediately went to work full time. Funding was not made available until November 1st at which time 15 personnel were put on the city’s payroll. The 15 full time personnel werre augmented by 25 volunteers. The department had three pieces of firefighting equipment available to use with a few pieces of older equipment for backup. The department was averaging about 20 fire incidents a week.
Today, the department has nearly 700 personnel answering more than 100,000 call a year with more than 50 pieces of equipment to do the job.
The department will hold a special observance for the two milestones on Saturday, October 14 at Fire Station One/Headquarters downtown, during Fire Prevention Week. It will run from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. The open house will be at one of the busiest fire stations in the country. Several exhibits, displays, tours and demonstrations are planned for the open house. There will be a special ceremony held during the open house at 11:30 a.m.
Demonstrations by the department’s technical rescue team, bomb squad, hazardous materials team along with static displays of several pieces of fire apparatus will be there to see. A mobile classroom that simulates a fire will be set up so children can learn how to escape a burning building taught by the department’s fire prevention division. Tours of the Fire and Medical 9-1-1 center will also be available, a rare chance for people to see where their 9-1-1 call go in the even of a fire or medical emergency.