Fire Department

The Seventies ...

On April 11, 1970, just two short years after the death of Colin Hanley, the department lost a second firefighter in the line of duty. Captain Frank Testa died while fighting a fire at the Stardust hotel. The Stardust, located at 3000 Las Vegas Boulevard, found itself engulfed in flames, which had began in a utility room. The fire rapidly spread to the executive offices, the gift and specialty shops in the lobby, and damaged more than 100 rooms. Captain Testa suffered a heart attack while fighting the blaze. Efforts to revive him were to no avail. Captain Testa was pronounced dead on arrival at Southern Nevada Memorial Hospital.

Chief Clell Henley

Chief Clell Henley became the department's third Fire Chief. Although he served in this position only between February 1971 and November 1974, his actual career with the Clark County Fire Department had lasted as long as the department itself.

Chief Henley was one of the founding members of the department, running a unit out of the Huntridge Station even before the opening of Station 11 in 1954.

Chief Henley was the first driver on B Platoon, the first battalion chief in the Fire Prevention Bureau and the first deputy fire chief for the department. Other positions held by Chief Henley in his 21-year career included engineer, captain, fire marshal, assistant fire chief, and fire chief.

As the community grew, it became apparent that the three fire departments serving the Las Vegas valley – Clark County Fire Department , Las Vegas Fire and Rescue, and the North Las Vegas Fire Department - needed to communicate more closely. On July 1, 1973, the alarm offices of the three departments merged and a centralized dispatch center began its operation.

Becoming the fourth chief in the department’s history, Leroy O. Hawks was appointed to the position on November 21, 1974. The same month Chief Hawks took office the department took on the added responsibility of handling administration duties for the 11 existing volunteer fire departments in Clark County.

Chief Leroy O. Hawks

These departments are manned by members of the communities where they are located. These volunteer departments are as much a part of the department as any other division. Without these volunteers many people in the rural areas would be virtually unprotected.

A major event occurred in April 1975 as a result of a "governor pilot study". Emergency Medical Technician Advanced level medical care became a reality in the valley. The program, which requires 500 instructional hours was attended by nine firefighters and engineers from the Clark County Fire Department and six employees of Mercy Ambulance. They graduated on July 1, 1975. Emergency Medical Services (EMS) responses compose over 75% of department calls and all suppression personnel are required to have Emergency Medical Technician-Intermediate (EMT-I) certification.

Two new stations opened in 1975 at a cost of $169,000 each. Station 19, a two-bay station located at 5710 Spencer Street at Russell Rd., was dedicated to the memory of Captain Frank Testa. Station 20, also a two-bay station located at 5710 Judson Avenue at Lynn Lane, was dedicated to the memory of Colin Hanley.

Chief Leroy O. Hawks officially retired from the Clark County Fire Department on December 2, 1977. Chief Hawks stepped down and made room for the man who would carry the department through the 80's - Chief Roy Parrish. During his tenure, Chief Hawks had served as a firefighter, engineer, captain, lieutenant, senior fire investigator, assistant fire chief, and deputy fire chief.

Chief Roy Parrish

Chief Parrish, the fifth chief of the department, began his career with department in July 1959. He was promoted to engineer in 1963, lieutenant in 1965, captain in 1966, battalion chief in 1969. He was appointed to assistant chief in 1972, deputy chief in 1974 and finally became the chief in 1977.

The first change the department saw after Chief Parrish took the reigns was an upgrade of the dispatch system. In December of 1978, the Computer Aided Dispatch System (CAD) was added to the Alarm Office. A microfiche “Rapid Access Retrieval System” was employed as a back-up system in case of computer failure.

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