Las Vegas Sun

December 17, 2017

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North Las Vegas fire chief no longer works for city

North Las Vegas places fire chief on paid leave

KSNV reports that North Las Vegas has placed Fire Chief Al Gillespie on administrative leave for a January training incident, July 13.

Embattled North Las Vegas Fire Chief Al Gillespie is no longer employed by the city. He was placed on paid leave three weeks ago pending an investigation into a January training exercise that injured four firefighters, officials said Monday.

The details surrounding Gillespie’s departure are a personnel matter and therefore confidential, according to a press release issued by the city late Monday afternoon.

North Las Vegas City Manager Tim Hacker would not comment on the terms of Gillespie’s termination — whether he resigned or was fired.

Hacker said Gillespie was placed on paid administrative leave last month so that city officials could "fully evaluate" a report commissioned by the city of Las Vegas looking into a training accident that occurred Jan. 24.

That report — released last month — found that a multi-agency fire training exercise organized by the North Las Vegas Fire Department was poorly planned and not clearly communicated to participating firefighters.

Four firefighters sustained “first- or second-degree burns and minor muscle and back sprains” during the training exercise, according to the report conducted by retired Clark County Fire Chief Steven Smith.

A Las Vegas Fire and Rescue captain was treated at University Medical Center’s Burn Center two days after the training exercise, thereby missing three work shifts, the report said.

Another captain from the Henderson Fire Department also missed work time "due to unspecified injuries incurred in the act of extricating himself from the burn structure," the report added.

The other two firefighters did not sustain serious injuries and were able to return to work, the report said.

However, as a result of the botched training exercise, Las Vegas announced last month its firefighters would no longer train with North Las Vegas firefighters.

Gillespie came to North Las Vegas in 2005. At the time of his hiring, Gillespie had more than 25 years experience in fire fighting, including seven years as fire chief in Augusta, Ga., and Yakima, Wash.

Gillespie is a graduate of the executive fire officer program at the National Fire Academy and also a grduate of the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard.

North Las Vegas spokeswoman Juliet Casey said Assistant Fire Chief Jeff Buchanan will remain as acting chief until a new fire chief is named at a later time.

Gillespie's departure is the latest salvo in a barrage of misfortunes that have struck North Las Vegas since the recession began. The city's tax revenue was decimated by the Las Vegas housing market collapse, which occurred just as the city spent millions to build a new city hall, recreation center and sewage treatment plant. Facing a $32 million budget deficit next fiscal year, the city recently laid off 120 workers, embroiling the city further in bitter labor battles with its unions.

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