Southwest valley’s Station 21 to get six more firefighters in 2018

Six paramedics and emergency medical technicians were added to Clark County Fire Station 21 in the southwest valley in 2016, the first large county public safety hire since the Great Recession.

On Aug. 15, county commissioners approved six more firefighter positions for the station, along with 88 other positions. The fire positions will cost the county about $990,000 over the next year.

Six months ago county staff asked departments for personnel requests and received 193 position requests worth about $16 million, according to Clark County Manager Yolanda King. The 94 positions the county was able to approve will cost about $7.8 million over the next year.

“We have utilized the dollars that were available to us and to be quite frank, we’ve probably gone over a little bit,” said King at an August Clark County Commission meeting.

The new positions at Station 21, at West Oquendo Road and South Decatur Boulevard, will staff a unit that went out of service during the recession to “offset costs,” Fire Chief Greg Cassell said. The fire engine likely will resume service by the beginning of 2018, when hiring for the six positions is finalized.

Job listings and application information will be posted at governmentjobs.com/careers/clarkcounty.

“The need in the southwest — south of Tropicana (Avenue), west of Decatur (Boulevard) — is seeing explosive growth,” Cassell said. More people and development leads to a higher emergency-call volume.

Station 21 is a single-resource station, meaning it has one fire engine that is staffed with a paramedic. When that engine is out on calls, Cassell said, no one is in that immediate area to respond to other calls. That requires pulling from other stations to cover extra calls, which causes “a ripple effect, pulling resources in to cover the southwest,” Cassell said.

From Jan. 1 to July 31, Station 21 responded to 1,959 calls, “which is quite high,” Cassell said. The station is on pace for about 4,000 calls this year.

“In my dream world, if I could have no more than 3,200 calls a year (per station), that would be great,” Cassell said. Of the calls received, 85 percent are related to emergency medical services, “which is standard across the department.” The remaining 15 percent includes public assistance, structure fires and other types of calls.

Cassell had multiple staffing requests, he said. But resources were limited, and staffing up Station 21 was the top priority.

“This was my No. 1 because it deals with response times and efficiency in the southwest and customer service during those critical moments,” Cassell said. “I’m thankful. But there’s always more. I would love to add seven or eight more components to our organization to increase our capabilities.”

While commissioners were relieved to be able to hire new public-safety positions, they also acknowledged that as the valley grows, it will take more to keep response times low.

“These tough personnel decisions are going to be more challenging each year,” Commissioner Larry Brown said. “I’ve always felt … that public safety and those related positions in support of public safety … will remain a priority at the expense of some other perhaps non-public-safety positions.”

Brown also said that the upcoming Station 30, which Cassell said likely will end up in the area west of Interstate 15 and south of Blue Diamond Road, will require “tremendous personnel.”

Response times in that area average about 8 minutes, Cassell said, a minute longer than the department’s goal.

Contact Madelyn Reese at mreese@viewnews.com or 702-383-0497. Follow @MadelynGReese on Twitter.

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