Washoe County, Reno Make Changes to Mutual Aid Agreement - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe News Weather, Video -

Washoe County, Reno Make Changes to Mutual Aid Agreement

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Washoe County and the City of Reno have agreed to some amendments to their mutual aid agreement.

The changes are meant to make things easier for Truckee Meadows Fire Protection District and the Reno Fire Department to ask for help during an emergency.

It's been about a year-and-a-half since the county and Reno deconsolidated their fire departments.

And they say they're finding better ways to improve their mutual aid agreement.

Discussions on the topic began when a fire engulfed a Hidden Valley home, on November 30th.

Truckee Meadows Fire Protection District was on-scene in less than seven minutes, and made the call for mutual aid from the Reno Fire Department, 20 minutes later.

The family and pets made it out safely but the house was destroyed.

"That was what triggered both parties looking at the language to make sure that we remove any barriers and that's exactly what we did," Reno Fire Chief Michael Hernandez said.

Until Wednesday's vote, a high-ranking officer had to be on-scene before the call for mutual aid could be made, and when the incident exceeded the regular capacity of the department.

Both agencies say those two stipulations delayed the process.

"I'm on record as saying that these restrictions are only going to serve to make it more difficult to call one another," Truckee Meadows Fire Protection District Chief Charles Moore said.

The changes mean the incident commander can make the call for mutual aid as soon as he or she thinks it's necessary, saving valuable time.

"We're fighting a battle, not only with fire but we're fighting a battle with time," Moore said. "So, anytime we can speed up the emergency response, we're better served. The public is better served."

"It's an easy mechanism for us to pick up the phone, pick up the radio and say 'Look, we've got a large multi-story building. We're going to need a lot of help on this. Can you come help us?'" Hernandez said.

Officials also believe this will speed up the process with state and federal partners in the event of a wildfire.

"As we enter into fire season, and we anticipate a pretty high fire season, this year, things like this are critical," Hernandez said.

While these changes improve mutual aid, Truckee Meadows officials say they would like to implement automatic aid, where the closest resource would respond, regardless of jurisdiction.

"We still have a number of calls where Reno will be closer to our call or we'll be closer to Reno's call," Moore said. "We're still not dispatching the closest resource. So, the next thing we need to talk about is automatic aid."

That is something that hasn't happened since the deconsolidation happened.

Washoe County does have an automatic aid agreement with the City of Sparks that they say is working very well.

Now, they're hoping they can work something out with the City of Reno.

Written by Paul Nelson

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