RENO, Nev. (KRNV & MyNews4.com)-
The public got a chance to voice their opinion about reconsolidating Reno Fire and Truckee Meadow Fire Protection, which parted ways two years ago.
Today is just the first small step on a potentially long path.
“We have never intended to go in and think in terms of turning over the fire department to the City of Reno,” explains Washoe County Commissioner, Marcia Berkbigler. She continued to clarify why she and Commissioner David Humke met with Reno City officials on the topic of fire regionalization. “And two, that we are protecting all of the citizens, regardless of where the live in our community. That was the purpose of those meetings; not to talk about immediate consolidation.”
Still, it prompted a public meeting to discuss what options the county had to work with the city.
On the heels of Reno Fire's financial troubles, some didn't want the commission to move forward.
“I say don't be bullied, and don't be fooled. These individuals haven't planned, they haven't strategized, and they're looking for you to bail them out,” said Cindy Davis.
A majority of commenters urged the committee tackle automatic aid first.
“There are some instances in Verdi where Reno is one side of the street and county on the other,” says Kim Toulouse. “Some of these things don't make sense. Automatic aid needs to be the first step in these conversations. That demonstrates good faith on both sides.”
During the open discussion commissioners tossed out ideas such as a beta period, an escrow setup, direct revenue, and even moving Truckee meadows into browned out Reno fire stations. However, many agreed such conversations were premature ahead of a report from the Blue Ribbon Committee-- a group meant to provide unbiased information and recommendations on a regional fire service.
“We can't have an intelligent conversation either way, until we see that report,” says Commissioner Vaughn Hartung.
In the end, the county decided to continue informal discussion with Reno as the city reevaluates its financial situation.
Washoe County’s Blue Ribbon committee is set to present their report the first week of May. In the meantime, they say they want to invite Reno officials to participate in their studies to determine what needs both fire services can address.