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Aug 01, 2022

The Las Vegas Fire & Rescue Department (LVFR) celebrates 80 years since its first full-time fire chief was hired Aug. 1, 1942.  Eighty years ago, the department hired its first full-time fire chief after receiving permission from the State Board of Finance to secure a $20,600 loan. 

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Three months later, Nov. 1, 1942, 12 full-time firefighters were hired. Previously, the department was staffed by volunteers, making the fire chief the first full-time position for the department.

Historic details:

  • June 6, 1905, the newly founded city of Las Vegas had its first fire when four buildings burned.
  • In 1942, the department had 12 firefighters; today LVFR has 745 employees.
  • In the 1940s, department staff included Dalmatians and horses. The dogs helped to calm the horses that were used to pull the fire engines.
  • In 1946, the department responded to 481 calls, compared to the more than 100,000 emergency and non-emergency calls responded to annually now.
  • July 1, 1963, James Edward Walker and Monroe Williams became the department’s first African American firefighters.
  • By 1968, the department had seven fire stations. Today, the department has 21 stations.
  • Dec. 9, 1973, the department started a new program that ensures an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) will respond with firefighters on every rescue call. This practice continues today with the city’s dual-trained firefighter/paramedics.
  • Nov. 21, 1980, a fire broke out at the 21-story MGM Grand hotel-casino. LVFR was one of several departments to respond, sending 148 firefighters, six engines, five rescues and two ladder trucks. That fire killed 85 people and led to a new state law requiring fire sprinklers in any hotel, motel, office, condo or apartment buildings taller than 55 feet.
  • Dec. 30, 1982, ground was broken for a new 40,000-square-foot fire station at 500 N. Casino Center Blvd. Today, this Fire Station 1 serves as LVFR headquarters.
  • April 22, 1985, the department hired its first female firefighters, Ellen Goldsmith, Linda Curtin and Diane Moyes. Moyes was later promoted to the department’s first female battalion chief. Today, Ashanti Gray is assistant fire chief.
  • Oct. 22, 2001, seven firefighters traveled to New York City to assist with the numerous funerals for New York firefighters lost during the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
  • Sept. 10, 2002, Firefighters Memorial Park was dedicated at 6401 W. Oakey Blvd., with more than 2,000 people attending the ceremony and unveiling of a memorial sculpture.
  • Today LVFR includes 21 paramedic engine companies, six ladder truck companies, 24 paramedic rescue units, a technical rescue unit, hazardous materials unit, mobile command unit, arson investigations unit, the community’s 911 call dispatch center and Southern Nevada’s only bomb squad unit.   

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