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Clark County Firefighters Sick Leave Scandal
Clark County Firefighters Sick Leave Scandal

AIR DATE: February 28, 2011

The Clark County Firefighters are facing even more problems now that their emails have been released. They seem to show a clear pattern of manipulating leave entitlements so that firefighters could take a month or more off of work. The scandal has embarrassed the Clark County Commission, which signed off on the original contracts and did not notice the manipulation until the recession struck. But it has also split the commission. Commissioner Steve Sisolak wants Metro and the FBI to investigate the firefighters for fraud, but Commissioner Tom Collins says that the firefighters were only taking what they were entitled to and that they should not be scapegoated now.

Steve Sisolak, Clark County Commissioner
Tom Collins, Clark County Commissioner

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It is amazing that Mr Sisolak seems to continue to include people that used sick leave for being sick. Going by Steve's logic then the firefighter that was hit by a car and broke his back was an abuser. The firefighters that had babies abused the system. The firefighter that had shoulder surgery is an abuser. Why can't Steve tell the real numbers?????
TonyFeb 28, 2011 20:20:19 PM
People in Glass houses should not throw stones. Leave our firefighters alone. You are not one Sisolak and would not have the guts to do what they do every day.
kiFeb 28, 2011 17:46:51 PM
I have donated to this station and enjoy the desert companion. It is so sad that this once balanced station has now joined the trend of bashing the firefighters. When the truth comes out and the twenty or less that are guilty get what they deserve, I hope the rest get an apology. Commissioner Collins was right. What is the real agenda here? I say if you are guilty you deserve to be punished, but let's get on with it and move on!
cory hFeb 27, 2011 19:24:11 PM
What about all of these emails? I can only find one email that shows two people scheduling days off. TWO PEOPLE! Can we see the rest of the emails please. One other email that someone explained if the firefighter he traded a work day with didn't show up, then he wanted to use a sick day. He was going to Alaska and would have no phone service. My Husband tells me this, and I feel I need to speak up. He is not allowed to talk to the media. I Can!
ClaudiaFeb 26, 2011 00:49:59 AM
Sisolak keeps saying 200 are taking off 10 shifts a month. This is very close to the truth, but he is not giving the reasons. He is not telling most of these individuals are on FMLA.The FMLA mandates unpaid, job-protected leave for up to 12 weeks a year: To care for a newborn child,to care for a seriously-ill family member (spouse, child or parent); to recover from a workers own serious illness; to care for an injured servicemember in the family; or to address qualifying exigencies arising out of a family members deployment. My Husband took off one month after I delivered my first baby, and second baby. He also took three months off when he broke his leg. He is not a sick time abuser, but now he is labeled as one. If you want to talk about "BAD APPLES" , how many County Commissioners have been sent to prison? My Husband says his friend who went to IRAQ, and got shot on his last week of deployment is one of the firefighters who had to take off ten shift or more. He received a Purple Heart, and now he is labeled is a sick time abuser.
CLAUDIAFeb 26, 2011 00:37:25 AM
yes, very true indeed Claudia! my husband took a month off (10 shifts = 240 hrs) last year for our 1st baby as well. on FMLA, aka sick leave!! it is in many cultures that a woman needs the 1st month to be care for after giving birth, so she can recover properly without any health issues later down the road. there were several fire-fighters whom i personally know that used FMLA for the birth of their children as well. Sisolak is over exaggerating the amount of sick time abusers in the fire-department over the media!! he's using "saving the tax payers' money" as a stepping stone to further his career! just like when he sued Clark County for 23.5 millions as PERSONAL GAIN. how can anyone trust a man who contradicts himself publically?!
zeFeb 26, 2011 01:43:47 AM
Go get 'em Steve. Ryan has done alot for us but he is a terrible public speaker. Sisolak pistol whips him and in the end, the truth is swallowed up.
Paul YoudelisFeb 25, 2011 06:43:49 AM
Does anyone really know how much Steve Sisolak has profited off the backs of Clark County taxpayers? Look up Case No. 01A434337 at and find out.
C. GrantFeb 24, 2011 22:34:21 PM
he profited 6.5 million from Clark County!
zeFeb 24, 2011 23:48:48 PM
"C.Grant" any further info you could provide me with Sisolak's successful suing of the county for something like $650,000 would be greatly appreciated. I only know that it had something to do with suing McCarran, and winning, and shortly thereafter I suspect it funded his race for County Commissioner. Anyway, any help you could give me would be grealy appreciated. I have many former contacts that I could ask to dig it up for me, but your's seems the past of least resistance at this relatively early stage of the game. Thanks a bunch, Steve La-Sky (Proud Retired Fire Fighter)
Steven La-SkyFeb 24, 2011 23:50:35 PM
Steven, you can read an RJ article regarding this case:
zeFeb 24, 2011 23:59:57 PM
Wow !!! Steve Sisolak for president !!!!
al santiFeb 25, 2011 00:17:32 AM
Put these bad apples on PERMANENT SICK LEAVE,they may think twice next time....Taxpayers are their BOSS not the unions.
al santiFeb 25, 2011 00:25:02 AM
Tax payers are unions! Did u forgot how unions were formed?!
ZeFeb 25, 2011 00:49:31 AM
The County's fiscal Pied Piper actually walked away with $23.5 million dollars of Clark County money after he sued the County and the Airport, because he bought land at the end of a runway and then claimed foul when they wouldn't let him build a highrise in the flight path. He care's as much about the County's coffers as any average grifter cares about a business before they deliberately "slip" and then file a lawsuit. He only fell in love with the County after they paid him $23.5 million dollars. Here's some more details on his HUGE payday...
BuddyFeb 25, 2011 13:52:33 PM
You will not hear level headed comments like that of Tom Collins on any mainstream media in this valley. They feed off the inflated drama Steve Sisolak creates and it's only when you hear an actual voice of reason, that you, the general public, realize how little Sisolak actually knows about how the fire department works. Firefighters EARN twice the amount of sick leave because they WORK twice as many REGULAR hours as the standard 40 hour employee. They USE twice the amount of sick leave for the same reason. Add in the fact that the County publicly REFUSED to hire additional firefighters and made overtime hours MANDATORY, and you can see why the use of sick leave would increase. You made your bed Clark County, now lie in it. Also, Mr. Commissioner Over The Fire Department, firefighters ARE NOT ALLOWED to defend themselves in the media, BY THREAT OF PUNISHMENT, according to the fire departments Rules and Regulations. I'm sure you have the authority to look it up. Please get your facts straight before ridiculing entire groups of YOUR EMPLOYEES. Mr. Collins, thank you for providing a counter balance to the Jerry Springer show orchestrated by our mainstream media.
C. GrantFeb 24, 2011 22:05:42 PM
I am Steven La-Sky, the former PIO for the Clark County Fire Department from 1998-2002. My career as a fire fighter spanned 1988-2008 (including responding to ground zero at the Twin Towers after 911). I have appeared on KNPR previously and would love to debate Steve Sisolak on this issue at any time. Keep in mind that I am now a RETIRED FIREFIGHTER, and may be one of the 240 fire fighters that he is accusing of "gaming the system." Again, I can not speak in an official capacity, but would love to confront Sisolak on the air at any time. You can reach me at the above email address or at 498-8082. It is a shame that you, a radio station I have always supported are perpetuating this myth. Shame on you KNPR and Sisolak for bringing McCarthyism to Clark County. Congratulations! Inventing conspiracies where none exist. Your show earlier today did serious damage to what I learned in journalism school as OBJECTIVITY of the media in news stories. You were basically perpetuating Sisolak's grandstanding. WTF happened to KNPR?
Steven La-SkyFeb 24, 2011 20:44:29 PM
Our firefighters are shameless, overpaid parasites. Their union (in collusion with government) extracts extreme salaries for doing mostly nothing, and then have the gall to tell us that they are risking their lives for us. Well, the plain truth is that there are scores of common, everyday jobs that are far more dangerous and pay far less than firefighters (or police, for that matter). It's just that they've created a self-serving folk mythology. If I were king, I'd fire them all and then hire equally qualified and responsible people for $60k/year. Easily done, for sure, especially in this economy.
Tom H.Feb 24, 2011 18:13:59 PM
first of all, you have to understanding their job description. all fire-fighters are required to be medically certified... which means they MUST respond to all 911 calls!! especially during the weekends and holidays, there are so many 911 calls that they don't get to sleep for 24 hours at a time, and sometimes they don't even have time to eat! so YES, they're risking their lives and health for us!!
zeFeb 24, 2011 21:52:57 PM
Yeah. The Chamber of Commerce called. They want their ideas back.
C. GrantFeb 24, 2011 22:27:16 PM
With the average firefighter wage-benefits package at just $181,000, I can see why they need the money. Sure, they get paid for eating, sleeping or taking a dump, but the guys gotta eat! Some jackasses might think we could replace them all for $90,000 each. It could be done, but just make sure your insurance is paid first.
robFeb 24, 2011 15:34:16 PM
Sick days are just that, sick days. I think it is obscene that anyone would defend the manipulation of the system. I find the overall sense of entitlement alarming.
peterFeb 24, 2011 10:42:42 AM
If the Fire Fighters rebel because some of the Fire Fighters did wrong then they're all a bunch of babies. Man up. You got caught now pay for it.
williamFeb 24, 2011 09:46:27 AM
We need to bring some perspective to the figures thrown around to enlighten the general public who are not fluent to a firefighters schedule and pay. Sisolak states "firefighters using a months worth of sick leave". Most people will assume that is 30 days, when infact, that is only 10 working days. A fire fighter's shift is 24 hours. As for pay, the top figures published include insurance benefits. If you publish the average worker with benefits, his/her annual pay will appear larger than their actual take home.
jonFeb 24, 2011 09:43:33 AM
Fraud is fraud, no matter how you spin it. It upsets me that such a noble profession has been tainted by this scandal, but all County Fire Fighters either passively or actively allowed this to go on. "Doing the right thing is never the wrong thing..."
BrianFeb 24, 2011 11:07:16 AM
brian you are right fraud is fruad and partial truths are lies. what was printed in the paper about what I made in 09 was 38,000 dollars more than what was reported by the county. truth does not sell so the story is imbelished for profit,,, just another lie--also I have not taken more than 3 sick days a year in 14 years
steveFeb 25, 2011 22:20:03 PM
I generally support our public servants but this is systemic. I cannot believe that the Fire Fighters that weren't engaged in fraud knew what was going on. What happened to integrity? This SHOULD reflect on the department as a whole. My $0.02
BrianFeb 24, 2011 09:42:46 AM
all work places have these type of issues, including Metro Police Department. there's always a few bad apples laying around! for Sisolak to accuse 240 fire-fighters for abusing sick leave is absolutely outrage!! the truth is, there's no more than 15 fire-fighters that's currently under investigation for sick leave abuse!
zeFeb 24, 2011 21:47:30 PM
The Commissioner stated fire fighters here save lives everyday. The truth is that they usually sit in the firehouse for days, weeks and even months before they may have a real fire to fight. In the meantime they usually maintain or polish fire equipment. They also have the latest cable TV that they can sit and watch for hours. Not to take away from the danger that is involved inherent in their job. But Lets get real about their tendency to abuse or take advantage of the system.
JayFeb 24, 2011 09:41:59 AM
they do NOT sit in their fire house everyday for days, weeks, or month! first of all, you have to understanding their job description. all fire-fighters are required to be medically certified... which means they MUST respond to all 911 calls!! especially during the weekends and holidays, there are so many 911 calls that they don't get to sleep for 24 hours at a time, and sometimes they don't even have time to eat!
zeFeb 24, 2011 21:37:31 PM
First of all Fire fighters barely have time to sit down and eat these days. They work a minimum of 56 hours per week. Not only to they respond to fires. They also respond to ALL emergency medical calls, Hazardous Materials emergencies, High angle rescues, swift water rescues, natural gas leaks, traffic accidents, confined space rescues, and public service assistance of citizens. Fire Fighters in Southern Nevada average more than eight emergencies runs per day. This equates to just under 1,000 per year, or over 30,000 for most of their careers. 30,000 times they responded out of the station to help people in need in an average time of under 6 minutes. They also conduct a school drill every single month for every school in their assigned district. All are Emergency Medical Technicians if not Paramedic's and must complete a minimum of 60 hours per year of continued education. They must also complete a minimum of 20 hours a month of hands on Fire fighter training to keep their certifications They conduct annual business inspections on all businesses within their assigned district, and service all fire hydrants.
M. CrawFeb 25, 2011 01:40:39 AM
I appreciate what the firefighters and paramedics do for this city. Those sitting behind a desk may consider "sick" leave excessive, but they are not in the midst of saving lives, feeling the heat of a fire or concern for those in distress or hurt. I understand reducing costs, stopping excessive absences in the person or persons involved, but to criticize the whole department is wrong. Also, if this a country wide problem, perhaps we should ask why this happens throughout the country!
P S Sivad (please do not use my name) if possibleFeb 24, 2011 09:35:02 AM
Lots of other folks go out and save lives everyday  EMTs, men and women in uniform overseas&if it were about compensating these people for saving lives, they would make a LOT more money. They dont game the system and neither should Clark County Firefighters. I am disappointed that it took this long for this information to come to light.
ShellyFeb 24, 2011 09:27:27 AM
If Uncle Sam would let the military form a union, you bet your @$$ they'd be fighting for better wages and benefits.
C. GrantFeb 24, 2011 22:31:05 PM
I deeply respect the sacrifice that our firefighters make on a daily basis; however, I am applauded by the actions and manipulative mentality that these firefighters exhibited. Not only did they betray the publics trust, but also stained the image of all of the firefighters in Clark County. Commissioner Sisolak is right to pursue the possible legal avenues that can be waged against those firefighters who engaged in the fraud. Criminal charges must be brought against those firefighters to discourage this type of illegal activity from occurring again.
Luis Feb 24, 2011 08:48:38 AM
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