Reno City Council Vote 5-2 to Approve Firefighter Layoffs - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe Sparks News, Weather, Video

Reno City Council Vote 5-2 to Approve Firefighter Layoffs

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The City of Reno is moving forward with plans that will eliminate 35 firefighter positions by July 1st. The City Council voted 5-2 on a resolution that finds it necessary to make the layoffs.

Earlier this month, the City of Reno was denied funds from the federal government. 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.

The money would have been used to pay for 50 firefighters. 15 of those jobs were saved by re-allocating funds from other areas. That means 35 face losing their jobs on July first.

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,"  City Manager Andrew Clinger told us.

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 Chief Michael Hernandez told us.

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.

The Reno Fire Department had 255 firefighters in 1999 but come July first, that will drop to 217. In that same time funding for the fire department has nearly doubled. And since 2009, the fire department has seen a 2% increase in funding. Eleven other departments have seen steep cuts. Clinger says the city is out of options. "We completely retooled the budget and started looking at ways that we could structure it so that we would fund firefighters permanently, not just on a temporary basis."

60 firefighters were laid off in Fiscal Year 2009/2010 but were hired back after Reno got the SAFER grant. Other positions were closed through attrition.

So Clinger says the 35 layoffs are a much better outcome than what we could have seen.

Written by Paul Nelson

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