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.

Just Posted

Annual Easter event continues to grow in Oak Bay

Organizers expect 800 to 1,200 people for seventh annual event on April 20

Police investigating after crash on Hillside Avenue

Traffic was obstructed while involved vehicles removed from scene

VicPD seize knife, bear spray from youth

Youth issued large fine for weapons

Sentencing delayed for man who attacked VicPD dog

Uno later recovered from his injury and returned to work

Victoria church bells toll in solidarity with Notre Dame Cathedral after devastating fire

Churches around the globe ring bells to honour iconic Paris cathedral

POLL: How often does your family use BC Ferries?

Navigating the lineups for BC Ferries is a way of life for… Continue reading

Crime Stoppers most wanted for Greater Victoria for the week of April 16

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Howe Sound Queen sailing toward retirement

Vessel now up for auction ends regular runs between Crofton and Vesuvius at the beginning of June

Should B.C. lower speed limits on side roads to 30 km/h?

Vancouver city councillor wants to decrease speed limits along neighbourhood side roads

Lawsuit eyed over union-only raise for B.C. community care workers

‘Low-wage redress’ leaves 17,000 employees out, employers say

Landlord of alleged Okanagan shooter recounts deadly day

Tony Friesen was working in one of the units of his Penticton building when he heard shots

B.C. RCMP arrest foreign national in connection to airport thefts

A woman, 60, is being held in police custody as Richmond RCMP investigate

Police pursue pesky porker on Vancouver Island

‘This was allegedly not the pig’s first escape’

Most Read