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Thursday, October 2, 2014
Fire Department

Very few occupations, if indeed any, have histories as rich and colorful as the fire service. Ours is no exception. This is the story of the Clark County Fire Department and the challenges it has met and overcome in the last 50 years. When it came time to stand and be counted, we were right there in the thick of things, doing what had to be done. This is a story of a group of brave individuals who have responded to the call.

Background

In 1953, Las Vegas was in a building boom. Mobster Bugsy Siegel had broken down the doors of the high desert with the construction of the Flamingo Hotel, and Vegas has never turned back. It was certainly not the first boom, nor would it be the last, but it certainly seemed to get the ball rolling. The building of resorts actually started with the opening of the El Rancho Vegas Hotel and Casino in 1941, five years before the notorious Bugsy came to the valley. It was Mr. Siegel, however, who brought the glitter to Glitter Gulch.

The Flamingo, with its giant pink neon sign and replicas of pink flamingos on the lawn, certainly stood out among the other resorts, all following the same western ranch-style theme. The Flamingo was what Siegel called a "carpet joint," an upscale resort modeled after glamorous hotels in Miami. Siegel was murdered only six months after the Flamingo opened, but the idea of glamorous Vegas was already put into motion.

The building boom triggered by the Flamingo's success in 1940's accelerated into the 50's. Resorts that opened during that time included the Desert Inn, Sahara, Sands, Riviera, Royal Nevada, Dunes, Hacienda, Tropicana, Stardust, Fremont, and Moulin Rouge.

As the building boom continued, so did the population growth. Las Vegas had grown from 8,422 residents in 1940 to 64,405 in 1960. At the same time, Clark County reached a population of 127,016. The unprecedented growth created greater need for fire protection. The Clark County Fire Department (CCFD) was organized on November 23, 1953. The revenues from the Winchester and Paradise Townships provided funds for the construction of the first station. Thanks to the “hospitality” of the Las Vegas Fire Department (LVFD), the eight-men crew went to work immediately -- even before the construction of the first station was completed.

From November 1953 until January 1954, the crew ran out of LVFD Station 2 (also called Huntridge Station) located on the southwest corner of Maryland Parkway and Charleston Boulevard. At first, they worked day shifts only.

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