LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Efforts to train and hire more firefighters are heating up as the Clark County Fire Department welcomes its biggest class of recruits yet.
“The entire valley is understaffed right now,” Clark County Fire Department Captain Marcus Barfield said. He’s been with the department for six years.
As the Las Vegas valley expands and the number of events increases, there is a growing need for emergency crews. The Clark County Fire Department is in the middle of training its largest group yet.
“We are hiring more firefighters now than ever with retirements, the community growing and stations opening, we are just really understaffed at this point,” Barfield said.
He said the department tried to recruit 120 people and was able to get slightly more than 100 but the grueling process of training has whittled the number of recruits down to 86.
“Things happen, we’ve had unique injuries, the people here are all working really hard and it’s up to them if they make it,” Barfield said.
Recruits went through the fire fundamentals Wednesday at the Clark County Fire Training Center, at Tropicana Avenue and Arville Street across from The Orleans Hotel and Casino.
Barfield said the training encompasses everything to fight a single-family home fire. From fire attack, to search and rescue, to knocking down doors and roof ventilation.
A handful of the recruits are women, cutting through roofs and breaking the glass ceiling.
Chantal Williams is the first in her family to be a firefighter and has a background in the military.
“I want to be a firefighter because the brotherhood and sisterhood of the department is something that really intrigued me, I wanted to help my community, and the career of a firefighter and learning new skills and always growing is something I wanted to be a part of,” she said.
Williams said the brotherhood and sisterhood are strong, and that they support each other regardless of gender but she would love to see more women in the field.
“Because we need it,” she said.
After all, they walk through the fire together.
Williams said she’s learning a lot from great instructors like Cassidy Gosse, the only female instructor, also known as a cadre.
“I feel like one of the other cadres,” Gosse said. “There are other women who’ve done great and it’s great to have them backing me up.”
She said the women in the academy are performing well in the training.
“I always wanted to be a firefighter,” Gosse said. “I wanted to help the community and give back.”
Her father is a retired firefighter who was happy to have another one in the family.
“He’s the best person in the world and it’s nice to follow in his footsteps,” Gosse said. “It’s the best job in the world, I couldn’t think of anything better.”
If you’re interested in becoming a firefighter, Captain Barfield recommends getting involved with local Explorer programs for younger adults.
He said to get experience working on an ambulance and find out if the industry truly is for you. You can check out the county’s recruitment website at this link.
According to the fire department, the recruits are desperately needed.
“We are hiring more firefighters now than ever with retirements, the community growing and stations opening up. We are just really understaffed at this point,” said Clark County Fire Captain Marcus Barfield.
The recruits will graduate at the end of May and be placed in any of the more than 40 stations around the county.