Bill Would Require Automatic Aid Agreement for Reno, Washoe Coun - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe Sparks News, Weather, Video

Bill Would Require Automatic Aid Agreement for Reno, Washoe County

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Senator Ben Kieckhefer has a proposal on the table that could renew talks between Washoe County and the city of Reno.  Senate Bill 185 would establish a partnership between the Reno Fire Department and Truckee Meadows Fire Protection District.  That has been lacking since the fire agencies parted ways, in 2012.  The bill would require the closest fire station to respond to a fire, regardless of jurisdiction.

 "I believe that most citizens would expect that when they call 911, the closest emergency vehicle is coming and they don't care if it's currently owned by Washoe County or the City of Reno," Kieckhefer, (R) Reno said.

City and county leaders say they are onboard with automatic aid but how to do that has been a sticking point.  The complex matter involves more than just geography.  It also involves tax equity and fiscal issues.  Discussions between the city and the county haven't happened since June.
"I gave them fair warning, more than a year ago, that this bill was coming if they couldn't get together and get it worked out," Kieckhefer said. "Here it is. Hopefully, this pushes them over the edge."

Kieckhefer's in-laws' Hidden Valley home burned down in November of 2013.  The house is in the county's jurisdiction but RFD Station 6 is closer.  He says an automatic aid agreement could have helped the situation.

"My personal experience is one that can't be fixed but I want to make sure that doesn't happen to the next person," Kieckhefer said.

Truckee Meadows Fire Chief Charles Moore says the Station 6 crew was already out on a call, so they had no choice but to bring a crew from Sun Valley anyway.  But he sees similar problems.  He specifically mentioned that many Reno homes are right next to their fire station in Hidden Valley, but it's out of their jurisdiction.

"Those homes are no more than 100 feet, 500 feet away and if they're on fire, we're not going to be dispatched," Moore said. "But we're that close."

Reno City Councilman David Bobzien say an agreement has to be equitable.  Reno residents pay both city and county taxes but those in the unincorporated areas only pay the county.

"I think everyone would agree that if the tax equity issue can be worked out, then absolutely, we have to make sure that we're delivering services rapidly," Bobzien said.

Bobzien helped Kieckhefer draft a similar bill when he was an Assemblyman.  He says SB185 will bring momentum to new discussions.

"I'm confident that with the new council members, the new commission members, that we can restart the negotiations and forge a collaborative relationship to get this done," Bobzien said.

Truckee Meadows Fire already has an automatic aid agreement with Sparks, Carson City, and North Lake Tahoe.  Moore says it is important to do the same with Reno.

"This is about the safety of the citizens and service to the citizens," Moore said. "That needs to be the focus of this."

Moore says an automatic aid agreement would also require an updated dispatch system so that all of the agencies get notified at the same time.  Without that, it's possible that a closer station might take longer to get to a fire, simply because it takes longer to get the call.

Written by Paul Nelson
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