FILE - In this Oct. 3, 2017, file photo, windows are broken at the Mandalay Bay resort and casino in Las Vegas, the room from where Stephen Craig Paddock fired on a nearby music festival, killed 58 and injuring hundreds on Oct. 1. (AP Photo/John Locher, File)

Fire chief wants changes in wake of Las Vegas mass shooting

Having a fire incident commander at the event could have improved communication, officials say

A Las Vegas-area fire chief who warned lawmakers months before a 2017 mass shooting at a music festival that Nevada should bolster its emergency management planning says he wants to bypass state lawmakers to get changes made.

Six months before the Oct. 1, 2017, shooting on the Las Vegas Strip that killed 58 and left hundreds injured, Clark County Fire Department Chief Greg Cassell testified before state legislators in favour of a bill that would have required more co-ordination of emergency medical resources ahead of such a large event.

Investigators say gunman Stephen Paddock acted alone when he fired from a high-rise suite in the Mandalay Bay casino-resort into the crowd of 22,000 at the Route 91 Harvest festival. The FBI concluded Paddock sought notoriety in the attack but said it found no “single or clear motivating factor” to explain why he opened fire on the concert.

Cassell said Friday that had the legislation passed, the fire department would likely have had a fire incident command on the scene before the shooting.

Having a fire incident commander at the event could have improved communication and made for a more effective response plan, Cassell said. Months before the event, he told lawmakers the effort would avoid delays in ordering and directing emergency help.

The legislation he supported in 2017 passed the Assembly unanimously but failed to make it out of the Senate. It’s unclear why the bill failed to pass, and Cassell said he never received a clear answer on why the bill did not cross the finish line. Generally, he said, changes at the statehouse can get bogged down by the number of people and interests involved.

READ MORE: FBI finds no specific motive in Vegas shooting

READ MORE: Trump ‘disappointed’ FBI can’t find motive in Vegas shooting

This year, he is instead pushing for Clark County to make changes requiring events of a certain size to have fire personnel on scene and in unified command with police.

While police and ambulance services were on-duty at the concert and event organizers obtained a required fire department permit and inspection, they were not required to and did not have any on-duty fire personnel at the concert.

A report released by the Federal Emergency Management Agency in August last year also recommended the change and revealed that some of the firefighters responding to the shooting were unaware that the festival was occurring and had to quickly set up a command when they encountered the chaotic aftermath.

The chaos was something Cassell warned lawmakers about during a March 2017 hearing on the bill.

“If we are waiting for a battalion chief to respond to an event from their station or another location, we have to wait for calls to take place, dispatching, routing and driving through traffic,” Cassell said, according to the committee minutes.

READ MORE: Maple Ridge grieves for son lost in Las Vegas shooting

“It terrifies me because we are a resort community, and we have to be prepared on the front end with the right people in the right spot at the right time to mitigate these things as fast as we can,” he testified.

Cassell said Friday that having fire personnel at the country music festival would have made a difference. But he could not quantify its effect and did not suggest lives were lost as a consequence.

While Cassell is pushing for changes at the local level, it’s unclear if Nevada lawmakers will follow suit.

Assemblyman Michael Sprinkle, D-Sparks, sponsored the 2017 legislation that Cassell supported. Sprinkle declined to comment this week about why his earlier bill failed and whether he would revive the legislation.

The state Division of Emergency Management has requested a handful of bills addressing emergency resources and procedures, including a measure to quickly license out-of-state doctors to practice in the state during a disaster, something then-Gov. Brian Sandoval allowed under an executive order after the shooting.

It was not clear Friday how many of the measures were spurred by the 2017 shooting. Messages seeking comment from Division of Emergency Management spokeswoman Gail Powell were not immediately returned.

AP reporter Michelle L. Price in Las Vegas contributed to this report.

Ryan Tarinelli, The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

ICET provides Qualicum Beach with $250K for East Village project

Town expects revitalization plan to attract more developments

COVID-19: Garage sales should follow mass gathering guidelines

City has received variety of queries on the issue

Parksville’s ‘Support Local’ parade celebrates businesses

Approximately 30 vehicles turn out for event

COVID-19: Qualicum Beach man stages concerts for charity out of his garage

Larry MacDougall says reception from neighbours has been heartening

COVID-19: Parksville bowling lanes open, but booking required

Owner implements safety measures to protect staff, bowlers

Only four new COVID-19 cases, 228 active across B.C.

Health officials watching as activities ramp up

Feds looking at ways to reunite families amid COVID-19 border restrictions with U.S.

Some families with members of dual-citizenship have become separated due to the pandemic

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world in ways that would have… Continue reading

B.C. aquaculture farm’s employees sweat it out to raise funds for food banks

For every five minutes of exercise recorded, Cermaq Canada is donating a dollar to local food banks in communities they operate

Condition in kids with possible COVID-19 link being studied in Canada

This month, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued an alert to doctors about MIS-C

‘I knew what he wanted’: Kootenay man spends hours in tree as black bear patrols below

Francis Levasseur is no stranger to the outdoors, but a recent run-in with a bear caused quite a scare

COVID cancelled their wedding plans, so they married on a BC mountaintop

Ceremony was live streamed to friends and family around the world

Stepdad able to walk bride down the aisle days before he passes away

Ceremony held amidst pandemic in order to fulfill bride’s wish to have stepdad give her away

Trudeau acknowledges racial unrest in U.S.; ‘We also have work to do in Canada’

‘Anti-black racism, racism, is real; it’s in the United States, but it’s also in Canada,’ Trudeau says

Most Read