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Las Vegas Firefighters, City at Odds Over Study | News

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Las Vegas Firefighters, City at Odds Over Study
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LAS VEGAS -- Just as the city of Las Vegas opens a fire station in Summerlin, city officials are calling for a study to examine the fire department, including overtime costs and response times.

The president of the Las Vegas Firefighters Union, Dean Fletcher, said the study is a waste of money, and is blaming the city manager, Elizabeth Fretwell, of using the study to force pay and benefit concessions in labor contract talks.

"It's clearly a waste of $155,000," Fletcher said. "We already have all of the information."

The city's Public Safety Chief, Karen Coyne, said the study isn't a tactic, but rather an assessment to see how the department can be better.

Coyne said the cost is low considering all the data that would be gathered.

"I think it's a great investment of money," she said. "The $155,000 cost represents one percent of the overtime expenditures allotted for Las Vegas Fire and Rescue."

She said the study would help in maintaining insurance accreditation ratings, and look into other key areas.

"There are a host of issues that we have an opportunity to look at and do some critical thinking based on the outcome of that report," Coyne said.

Fletcher said talks of this study resurfaced after contract negotiations came to an impasse. He said it could mean downsizing the department.

"The only possible thing they could come in to say (is) ‘we are going to reduce staffing,' as they have done in other cities," Fletcher said.

Coyne said downsizing would not happen. The study is being proposed, she said, to find ways the department can increase efficiencies and for changes in the future.

"I think our firefighters make a decent wage," she said. "I think that we perhaps made some decisions long ago not to hire staff, which was a good business model at the time, (but) it's exceeded its life cycle."

The Las Vegas City Council is expected to consider the proposal Wednesday during its regular meeting.

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