Fire officials seeking a boost

An audit that criticized Clark County’s methods for inspecting high-rise buildings and handling complaints about slipshod work, prompted fire officials to call a meeting Thursday with their inspectors to boost morale.

A New York consultant, hired by the county, interviewed 13 of the county’s 38 inspectors for research. As a result, many inspectors only learned of the audit when the findings were reported in Thursday’s Review-Journal, Fire Chief Steve Smith said.

Smith said he wanted to assure them that the report mainly bashed building inspectors.

"We thought we should show our support for them," Smith said after the meeting at a county development services building in Las Vegas.

A couple dozen employees attended. As they filed out of the room, they refused to talk to a reporter, saying county policy forbids them from doing so without special permission.

Smith said he gave them no orders to snub the media.

In the report, an anonymous worker said certain county commissioners pressured fire inspectors into cutting corners on life-safety checks.

Smith said his inspectors had never told him of a government leader or resort head who tried to influence them. He said he encouraged them to tell their supervisors of any attempt to discourage them from doing a proper inspection.

The Fire Department, he said, asked to participate in the audit, which was aimed at the building department. That way, problems could be identified, he said.

Perhaps the biggest flaw in the Fire Department’s system is that its computers aren’t linked to the building department’s, creating snags in how complaints are relayed between the two, Smith said.

With the slowdown in residential growth, the building department diverted 14 jobs to the Fire Department, Deputy Fire Chief Girard Page said. Workers who inspect sites and peruse building plans will fill nine of those slots.

"We’ve had unprecedented growth," Page said. "Keeping up with that isn’t easy."

Contact reporter Scott Wyland at (702) 455-4519 or

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