County sues architect over problems at Station 22

Clark County commissioners decided Tuesday to sue an architectural firm over a new fire station that doesn't work as it's supposed to.

There isn't enough space behind the year-old Fire Station 22 for its ladder truck with a 100-foot extension, used to rescue people high above the ground and fight fires in tall buildings, to turn into the garage.

This has led to traffic holdups on well-traveled West Flamingo Road whenever firefighters are trying to park their largest fire engine.

The lawsuit names Blakely Johnson and Ghusn, Inc. - the Reno-based architectural firm the county paid $577,650 to draw up the fire station plans - to recover damages for the flawed design as they plan to redesign and modify the existing structure.

County staff said that could mean knocking out a structural column to turn two bay doors into one or tearing down a wall on the property and rebuilding it farther back, infringing on neighbors' yards on the other side of the fence.

"Backing up on Flamingo is a nightmare," said Commissioner Steve Sisolak, whose district includes the station. "Traffic is backed up both ways. This isn't good. I find it unbelievable that we can have a fire station design that the truck can't get in the appropriate way."

Even with the change, firefighters still might have to prioritize parking vehicles in the station based on their sizes.

Someone suggested using a different truck, but Fire Chief Bertral Washington said that might not work, either.

"If you go out there and look at it, it's very difficult to pull that truck in," Washington said. "Our reserve trucks are about the same size."

Commissioners voted in 2008 to build the multimillion-dollar fire station next door to the old Fire Station 22. The new station is three times bigger and capable of housing the big rig, a paramedic fire engine and a rescue unit.

That same year, county officials questioned whether the largest truck could make the turn into the bay and were assured by the architect "there was ample room." In March 2011, when construction was 95 percent complete, a test drive of the fire apparatus failed, requiring several adjustments to enter the rear of the bay.

The station serves the area bounded by Sahara Avenue, Decatur Boulevard, Buffalo Drive and Hacienda Avenue. Crews responded to about 7,700 emergency calls in 2010. The ladder truck was used on those calls.

George Ghusn, president of the architectural firm, said earlier this week that a set of criteria considering how the truck's wheels turn and the space needed for its front bumper to pull into the bay was used for the project as it had been for three other county fire stations the county had previously worked on.

Commissioner Tom Collins pointed to two other stations the Reno firm was involved with where outlets and faucets are in inconvenient locations.

"In my opinion, there is not enough input from the guys who use the thing every day," Collins said.

Contact reporter Kristi Jourdan at or 702-455-4519.