Findings and recommendations from a comprehensive study of the Las Vegas Fire & Rescue (LVFR) Department were presented today to members of the City Council. The study was conducted by the International City/County Management Association (ICMA) Center for Public Safety to identify new and better ways of delivering fire and rescue services more efficiently. In total, the study yielded 23 recommendations with eight considered priority.
Since 2004, the LVFR budget has grown from $77 million to $111 million, an increase of 43 percent that according to City Manager Elizabeth N. Fretwell, is unsustainable and has the potential to put the city in financial jeopardy. “This study is intended to begin a comprehensive and thoughtful dialogue to identify and develop efficiencies to deliver in smarter and better ways the same high quality services for which our city is known,” said Fretwell. “Our end goal is to continue to deliver the same high quality fire and rescue services more cost efficiently to ensure the ongoing financial health of our city and to preserve our ability to deliver other critical services to city residents.”
According to Las Vegas Fire Chief Mike Myers, several recommendations have already been completed or are near completion. They include identification of the true cost of training to better understand financial impact; the development of transportation goals and transport protocols; an organizational realignment that includes the addition of an administrative supervisor; and the development of policies relating to private emergency medical transport services, accreditation and a strategic business plan.
The duplication of services provided by LVFR and private ambulance companies is a component of one of eight priority recommendations that is expected to generate significant discussion. Chief Myers recommended the formation of an “interest-balanced” citizens advisory committee to further explore the duplication of emergency medical services (EMS). The committee will be formed by February 1 with final findings and recommendations due in six to nine months.
According to the study, revenue is not being collected by the city due to a low EMS transport workload, and there is potential liability created by a lack of decision-making protocol when both LVFR and AMR are on the scene at the same time (which occurs frequently). Based on the current LVFR EMS transport model, the city should consider one of two alternatives: 1) discontinue the LVFR EMS transport service to realize significant personnel and equipment savings; or 2) more fully engage LVFR in the transport of patients without assistance from private ambulance companies to generate greater revenues.
There are a number of study recommendations that are contractual in nature and will require negotiation with LVFR before implementation. Chief Myers’ recommendation is to begin negotiations first quarter 2013 with all analysis and recommendations completed by December 2013. These include balanced percentages of staffing to cover overtime with the goal of reducing expenses; the right to manage staffing; a review of the cost/benefit/efficiencies of 24/7 staffing; a review of 10-14-hour shift schedules for investigators; an analysis of overtime usage; the creation of an assistant fire public education and information officer; and the repurposing of battalion chief aides.
Many of these contractual items involve other key study recommendations, including the establishment of demand-based staffing which includes both 12-hour and 24-hour shifts to improve productivity; maintenance of appropriate staffing levels to reduce overtime pay and expense; establishment of policies that better manage scheduled and unscheduled leave as well as sick leave. Another key recommendation is to determine community financial benefits, if any, in maintaining the current Insurance Services Office (ISO) rating.
Five members of the 11-member ICMA team that conducted the study presented the study’s findings. They included Leonard Matarese, director of research and project development, ICMA Center for Public Safety Management; Joseph Pozza, senior manager, Fire/EMS Unit, ICMA Center for Public Safety; Dov Chelst, Ph.D., director of quantitative analysis, ICMA; Gerard Hoetmer, senior manager, Fire/EMS Unit, ICMA Center for Public Safety; and Gang Wang, Ph.D. senior data analyst for public safety studies, ICMA senior public safety consultant – operations research.
The full report can be found at http://www.lasvegasnevada.gov/files/ICMAfirestudy.pdf and http://www.lasvegasnevada.gov/Government/city_manager.htm.