Reno Fire Department Faces Budget Cuts, 35 Layoffs - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe News Weather, Video -

Reno Fire Department Faces Budget Cuts, 35 Layoffs

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City Manager Andrew Clinger, Fire Chief Michael Hernandez City Manager Andrew Clinger, Fire Chief Michael Hernandez

Officials with the City of Reno say denied federal funds could mean layoffs for nearly three dozen employees at the Reno Fire Department.

Fire officials say a Federal Department of Emergency Management Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant will not receive money due to funding limitations.

That will result in changes for Reno Fire Department's day-to-day operations.

266 firefighters work for the City of Reno -- including administration and prevention staff. The layoffs are determined by seniority affecting firefighters that were hired most recently."You've been here 6,7,8,9 years, serving our community and unfortunately, come July 1, we're going to have to give you a pink slip. That's probably one of the most difficult things, as Chief, that I have to do," says Chief Michael Hernandez.

It costs roughly $100,000 to employ each firefighter. The ones that are losing their jobs will get paid for their holiday, vacation, and sick days as well as insurance extension. "We will do everything that we can in the next 60 days and beyond to help those 35 firefighters and their families," says City Manager Andrew Clinger.

Despite rising home values and sales tax revenues -- the cuts are a clear sign that the economy is still recovering. "For us, when you look at property tax, for example, which is the greatest impact of the home prices, we don't see the results of that for three years."

Officials say the timing of the cuts was determined by the federal government. 

In addition, N. Virginia Street's Station #10 will join two other stations that are currently being "browned out" on a regular basis, which means removing all personnel and equipment from the station, but the actual building will remain there for possible future usage.

Station 10 is being browned out just three days after station 12 was officially opened in Damonte Ranch. "That station was already staffed and equipped. We were operating out of a temporary facility...So we, in essence, just moved from one facility into another," says Hernandez.

The Station 10 brownout means it will be closed except during specific times like during red flag warnings when wind or lightning is expected. It also means response times in that area will increase by two to four minutes. "Those are the stations that have the least amount of call volume and they're located in areas where we can actually pick up their response calls from their neighboring stations."

Two fire stations have already been browned out over on Skyline Drive and in Sommersett.

Clinger calls the news "disappointing," but promised to continue a high level of service. He says their primary concern is providing support and helping any impacted firefighters transition.

Budget talks will get underway this month for the next fiscal year and if possible, officials are hoping they might be able to save a couple of those jobs.

Written by Paul Nelson

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