Captain Don Warren of Engine 12 had sent his only firefighter with Engine 11's
crew while he remained at the stairwell to help guests evacuate. Just then a
security guard came to Captain Warren asking for help getting an unconscious
guest out of a room. The security officer led Captain Warren through the heavy
smoke to a room where they began a search for the guest. After a short while,
the guard had to bail out as the thick smoke became too much to handle. Captain
Warren decided to continue on.
The room flashed over-everything ignited at once! Surrounded by flames, Captain
Warren tried to find a way out. Soon, the sound of the fire quieted and he
could hear the muffled sound of firefighters talking to each other. A crew had
cut through the fire and saved Warren’s life. When the first firefighters saw
him, the straps on his air pack were still burning. Firefighter Ron Patron put
out the remaining fire and, with the help of Captain Carl Lowe, assisted Warren
out of the hotel. Captain Warren suffered painful burn injuries and endured
numerous surgeries. A little over two years later, he was back to full duty.
In 1983, another flurry of construction projects came to a finish. On January
1, a new Mechanics Shop was completed followed by the completion of the new
Training Center located at the corner of Tropicana Avenue and Arville Road. A
drill tower, located just behind the Training Center was completed just a few
months later. The new center became the home of the Fire Prevention Bureau.
This facility brought with it improved training, vehicle maintenance, and other
services and is an invaluable tool in maintaining the highest caliber of
In December of 1983, Station 13 moved into a new and improved facility. The
grand opening of the new Station 13 provided McCarran International Airport
with one of the most modern and best-equipped crash fire-rescue facilities in
On July 21,1983, the Clark County became the first department in the state to
claim a boat as part of its firefighting fleet. The boat was dubbed the
"Pottawatomie" in honor of Chief Parrish’s Indian tribe. Stationed in Laughlin,
Nevada, the Pottawatomie sported a 250 GPM pump and two discharges and was
mainly used to fight fires on small pleasure craft that sailed along the
Colorado River. The Pottawatomie could also be used as a rescue platform for
any other water related emergencies. Sadly, the Pottawatomie was decommissioned
due to theft and vandalism.
In July of 1985, Chief Parrish proudly announced that the department had been
notified that it had received a Class 2 rating. This meant the department had
achieved a higher level of fire protection and response capability. In
addition, insurance ratings were lowered.
Living in a world of modern technology, the term hazardous materials quickly
became a catch phrase in fire service circles. Departments all over the nation
found themselves face to face with all kinds of toxins, flammables, biohazards,
and radioactive materials. Thus, Haz-Mat 1 arrived in 1986 to help the
department battle this newfound foe. This hazardous materials vehicle carried
(with it) a variety of specialized equipment to deal with these deadly
substances. State of the art protective chemical suits, sparkless tools, and a
computer with an extensive chemical database and modem capabilities were all
tools stored on this rig. The vehicle was partially funded with federal revenue
sharing funds. Today the Haz-Mat team undergoes rigorous training on a
day-to-day basis to handle any deadly situation.
One such incident was the explosion heard around the world. On May 4, 1988, the
Pacific Engineering Plant (Pepcon) literally
blew itself off the face of the map, taking the Kidd Marshmallow Factory and
thousands of windows with it. Pepcon was the main source of ammonium
perchlorate, a solid rocket fuel used by the space shuttle program. A wayward
spark from a welder’s torch started a fire that soon engulfed the plant. The
fire and several explosions caused by it, claimed the lives of two people and
turned the surrounding landscape into a war zone. Those in the valley the day
Pepcon blew will not soon forget it.