Fire Department

The Fifties...

Las Vegas Strip circa 1950s

The rapid growth of the Las Vegas Valley initiated in the 50’s prompted an equally rapid development of the Clark County Fire Department. Due largely to the development of the hotel and casinos industry as well as other commercial properties, the Fire Prevention Bureau was formed on July 20th, 1955. Captain Joe Merrill was appointed the first Fire Marshall.

In July of 1956, Station 12 (Stardust Station) opened. This station, the oldest still in use in Clark County, is located at 3001 Industrial Road in the township of Winchester. This three bay station also housed the chief and fire marshal offices. A 1956 Seagrave 1000 GPM pumper was purchased for the station and additional personnel were hired.

The opening of Station 12 brought with it the opening of Stone Stadium, a somewhat level vacant area of desert that was used for baseball games amongst the crews. The games opened yet another chapter in the history of the department ... on the job injuries! Over the next few years, some of the more "interesting" injuries would include, Rod Smith playing a grounder that took a bad hop and broke his nose; Wally Huff throw to first base that seemed to rise just enough to go over the top of Louie Mayorga's mitt and hit on his forehead instead; catcher Mike Gilleland getting too close to batter Kyle Pace and getting knocked out cold from the inevitable bat to his head; as well as other sprains, strains, and pains.

Station 13 (McCarran Field Station) was a second fire station to open in 1956. It was located in the east end of the County Airport Maintenance Building on the west side of the airport. This was an 18 X 24 feet one-room building. The truck was parked in the same small room that also served as the kitchen, day room and dorm. An open lean-to was used to protect the $65,000 crash truck.

In the fall of 1957, the first rescue unit - a 1957 Ford van - was put into service at Station 12. The unit carried specialized firefighting equipment as well as a complement of standard rescue gear. The arrival of this unit brought with it a new version of the EMS system.

Seagrave Pumper 1950s

Firefighting is a dangerous job and only experience and proper training can lessen the risk somewhat. In 1959 the department addressed the issue of training by organizing the first training division. Captain Robert "Bob" Taylor was assigned as the first "drillmaster."

The growth of the department created a need for a more efficient management system. With that thought in mind, the rank of Lieutenant was instituted on July 6, 1959. The first Lieutenant of the department, Robert Folker, Frank Testa, Glen Ernest, and Robert Case, would be charged with the task of front line management. Herman Carson was appointed Assistant Fire Chief.

Also in 1959, Station 16 was born. Located at 1100 North Nellis Boulevard (Sunrise Manor Township) just south of Washington Avenue, this station opened with a new 1000-gallon water tanker.

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