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Laughlin to get back its technical rescue unit

Laughlin residents won’t have to wait long when they get into trouble on the river or need plucking from a cliff.

Clark County commissioners approved a settlement agreement with the fire union Tuesday that restores a specialized fire rescue unit in Laughlin after a two-year hiatus.

As a result, the union is withdrawing grievances and cases filed with the Local Government Employee-Management Relations Board contesting the county’s changes to hazardous material operations and Laughlin technical rescue operations and staffing.

The unit, which deals with swift-water and boat rescues, among others, is expected to be up and running in the next few months.

The technical rescue unit went out of service in 2010 when then-County Manager Virginia Valentine regionalized the technical rescue and hazardous material units to save $4.5 million in countywide overtime costs and $3 million in the town fund from positions that were eliminated. The workers filling those positions were moved elsewhere.

At that time, firefighters criticized the shutdown, saying the decision to get rid of heavy rescue and Hazmat puts the community at risk. County officials argued there was no impact to public safety because other agencies could handle calls.

Reinstating the unit will have a minimal cost impact outside of training firefighters with refresher courses and certificates for technical rescue, county officials said. Existing employees will fill the positions.

County management said the agreement benefits the county by keeping the parties from heading to third-party arbitration or further litigation.

Union officials said the deal could improve response times for the community.

Division Chief Bill Kinsey of the Bullhead City Fire Department in Arizona, which shares a mutual aid agreement with Clark County, said the Laughlin unit is positive for the area.

“I think that’s going to bolster and improve the response for both communities,” Kinsey said. “It’s a plus for both of us.”

Laughlin is a casino town of 7,300 people about 100 miles south of Las Vegas.

Contact reporter Kristi Jourdan at
kjourdan@reviewjournal.com or 702-455-4519.

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