LAUGHLIN — Laughlin Town Advisory Board Member Jim Maniaci asked for a budget report from Clark County Fire Department-Laughlin to see what it would take for Laughlin to have a self-reliant fire-fighting service. The Laughlin fire stations currently are manned by Clark County Fire Department personnel. The department also has a long-standing mutual aid agreement with Bullhead City and other fire agencies in the region.
In the past two months, there have been three fires in Laughlin that have required Clark County to call up help from other sources in the area. This prompted a question from the LTAB to the CCFD-Laughlin asking why they have had so much trouble in putting these fires out, their response times to them, and their need for assistance on all of them. The fires were the Big Bend Fire that ate up 235 acres, a house fire in Laughlin the recent small fire near Big Bend fire.
The response from CCFD was that it needs more personnel in Laughlin. LTAB has asked Clark County Fire Department-Laughlin what is needed in budgetary terms and to produce a number to the LTAB at its next scheduled meeting in December.
Pointedly, the LTAB asked how much money the department needed to be staffed to a level of — or close to — self sufficiency or at least to be able to handle most of the fires in Laughlin without relying on BCFD or any of the other agencies who participate in the mutual aid agreement to the extent they currently do. The budget for the Clark County Fire Department is produced by Clark County with no control wielded over it by the Laughlin Town Advisory Board. The LTAB does make recommendations to the Clark County Board of Commissioners regarding Laughlin.
The issue also encompasses the larger picture of potential incorporation as well as the lack of fire-fighting self-sufficiency that the township of Laughlin has had for many years.
Another common worry is what happens if a fire were to break out in one of the casino’s above the third floor? How would Laughlin fire personnel handle it without a ladder truck of its own? And, even if BCFD came to the aid in such an instance, to what degree could it help if the fire were above their ladder truck’s ability to reach? The questions and fears arise from the 26-story MGM Grand in 1980 where 85 people perished, mostly due to smoke inhalation in stair wells and upper floors.
The answer to that question for some time now, and reiterated again at one of the recent LTAB meetings, is that the sprinkler systems in the casinos would perform as designed, snuffing out any serious blaze.
Yet another issue no one seems to know the answer to is just how much money is spent by BCFD, Fort Mojave Mesa Fire Department, Mohave Valley Fire Department and the San Bernardino County Fire Department’s Needles station for the help they put in on a yearly basis fighting fires in Nevada.
At a recent LTAB meeting, one of the battalion captains from CCFD said that Laughlin had a ladder truck in the past. The ladder unit was old and in need of much expensive repair so it was retired rather than replaced in the tight budgetary times of 2008.