RENO, Nev. (MyNews4.com & KRNV) -- The Reno City Council on Wednesday paved the way for the City Manager to lay off nearly three dozen firefighters. The City of Reno was paying for those positions through a federal grant, but did not receive the grant this year.
It was a tough decision and emotional, at times. Not only are 35 jobs on the line, but also under consideration is the level of fire protection in some areas of Reno.
Reno Fire Chief Michael Hernandez told the council the loss of 35 firefighters will be a challenge. "Response times in certain areas will increase. We won't have our rescue apparatus."
It will mean the closure of fire stations in the Somersett and Skyline Boulevard areas. It will also close a third station on north Virginia Street.
While there will be impacts, Chief Hernandez said response times will still be within the city's standard of 6-8 minutes. He believes the department will step up, and provide the same level of protection to residents. "Will they be safe? I believe they will. Will this be a challenge for our group, organization? Absolutely. I believe we will step up and we will meet the challenge."
Before the vote, this Somersett resident said she is concerned, because she is caring for an elderly mom and a child with medical issues. "When you're dealing with someone who's had a stroke a heart attack, choking hazard, anything of that nature, its not minutes that count, it's seconds," said Maya Buchanan.
The city is still ironing out its budget and is in negotiations with the fire unions. At one point, Council Member Dwight Dortch told the union the layoffs are in their hands. "The average pay for the firefighters in this city is $129,320."
Council Members Oscar Delgado and Hillary Schieve were the two dissenting votes. Among other things, they said the council's should stick with its adopted strategic plan that puts public safety as a priority.
The City Council's next budget workshop is set for May 7.