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New study could put City of Las Vegas at odds with firefighters

Rikki Cheese

New study could put City of Las Vegas at odds with firefighters

CREATED Dec. 4, 2012

Las Vegas, NV (KTNV) -- Another battle over firefighter salaries and benefits is heating up in the City of Las Vegas.

The results of a study released to the media late Tuesday afternoon could impact ongoing contract talks between the city and its firefighters.

The fire chief says city officials are simply looking for ways to improve and save money.

The firefighters' union president says some of the suggestions in the study could have a negative impact on public safety.

Fire Chief Mike Myers tells Action News, "There was nothing in the deliverables of the report that said, we want you to find out ways to cut jobs. That was not in there."

IAFF Local 1285 President Dean Fletcher says, if a key recommendation is followed "Citizens in the City of Las Vegas would have 42 less firefighters on duty a day."

City of Las Vegas engine trucks would run as normal if that key recommendation in a private consultant's study is followed, but paramedic units might not. Emergency medical response could be outsourced to a company like AMR.

Las Vegan Edward Peck says it doesn't matter to him whether a rescue call is made by a private company or a professional firefighter, but he asks, "Is there a financial difference?"

A huge financial difference.

Chief Myers says the city is concerned about sustaining a budget he says has grown forty-three percent since 2004.

Myers says, "I know we're reporting that that the budget had grown from $77 million to $111 million dollars."

Firefighters union President Dean Fletcher says the 23 cost-cutting suggestions made in the $155,000 dollar study are nothing new. Fletcher says the consultants got their data from Las Vegas Fire and Rescue; a department with a six-minute response time.

Fletcher says, "We're only, I think by the study, only one of nine fire departments that's both ISO, of Class One, and nationally accredited. So that tells the citizens what kind of department that they have."

Las Vegan Karen Myers says, "Cost effective isn't what I care about. Who's trained? Who's going to do the better job?"

Chief Myers says the study gave Las Vegas Fire and Rescue high marks for performance, staffing and equipment, but money matters.

He says, if Fire and Rescue transports all EMS patients, the department could generate as much as $14 million a year in revenues.

However, if private companies provide EMS response, it could save the city as much as $18 million a year.

The consultant's recommendations are being discussed, while contract negotiations continue.

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