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

Abbotsford veteran survives cancer scare, celebrates 95th birthday

Second World War veteran Andy Anderson receives socially distanced birthday party after health scare

Bank robber who was on the lam receives three years in jail

Lucas Bradwell was wanted for robberies in Abbotsford, Sidney and Vancouver

UPDATE: Abbotsford high school killer back in court for ‘not criminally responsible’ hearing

Gabriel Klein was previously convicted of stabbing Letisha Reimer to death

Rivers could rise rapidly as heavy rains hit Lower Mainland

Larger rivers to reach peak levels on Thursday or into Friday, according to high streamflow advisory

Missing Chilliwack man not seen for eight days

Bruce James Madill last known location was on Paula Crescent on Sept. 16

BC Liberal Leader talks drug addiction in the Lower Mainland

Drug addiction and public safety a top priority says Andrew Wilkinson

Pandemic derails CP Holiday Train

Canadian Pacific will work to get donations to food banks while also producing an online music concert

Vanderhoof’s Brian Frenkel takes on top job in tough times

We can get through this, new local government leader says

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Mounties cleared by watchdog in fatal shooting of man with schizophrenia in Maple Ridge

Kyaw Din was killed by the RCMP during a mental health incident in August 2019

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Local councils important, Horgan says as municipal conference ends

B.C. NDP leader says ‘speed dating’ vital, online or in person

Penticton woman sentenced to one year in prison for manslaughter of teen boyfriend

Kiera Bourque, 24, was sentenced for manslaughter in the 2017 death of Penticton’s Devon Blackmore

Most Read