Friday, June 7, 2013

Running up the Stratosphere in Las Vegas

A fireman took Dave's picture at the top of the "Strat" in Las Vegas

My son, Dave, recently joined, by special invitation, one of the Clark County area fire fighter teams in doing their work-out run to the top of the 1,149 foot tower of the Stratosphere Hotel & Casino at the northernmost end of the Las Vegas Strip. Dave told me it was quite a morning and the climb really tested his stamina, but he made it all the way to the top, keeping pace with the firefighters. His next test is to make it up the tower carrying a full complement of equipment.

I know how well-trained and capable firefighters are. My wife and I were guests at the Las Vegas Hilton on February 10, 1981, the evening the hotel was set ablaze by a wacko lighting fires in elevator lobbies. Firefighters, using the knowledge they had learned from the MGM Grand fire (less than four months before) used local television stations to notify people to stay in their rooms and not go out to the halls and stairwells. Because of the lessons learned, only eight people died in this fire compared with the 85 people who died in the MGM Grand fire. In 1982, Philip Cline was sentenced to eight life sentences for his role in starting the fire (source: Wikipedia). The former MGM Grand is now Bally's.

When the Hilton fire broke out about 7:30 P.M., my wife and I were dining with a client in a restaurant located in the concourse between the casino and the Las Vegas Convention Center. All restaurant guests were swiftly escorted outside the hotel, via the kitchen of a Japanese restaurant. When we reached the front driveway of the hotel, I saw more fire trucks than I've ever witnessed in one spot plus helicopters at low altitude and smoke coming out of the roof of the Hilton.

It's in a crisis like that when one really begins to appreciate all the training firefighters go through day in and day out. It's hard training that saves lives, but risks the life firefighters and sometimes, these brave professionals lose their lives in attempting to carry out the mission to which they are dedicated. Some day, when you least expect it, a firefighter might save your life...or mine!