RENO — Washoe County Commissioners hired Charles Moore, a 23-year fire chief veteran from Eagle River Fire Protection District in Colorado to lead the resurrected Truckee Meadows Fire Protection District beginning April 2.
“I can’t wait to get started. I thank you for your confidence in me and I look forward to working with you,” Moore said.
Moore will now be responsible for five operating stations and eight volunteer fire stations.
TMFPD was first established in 1972 and entered into a mutual aid agreement with the City of Reno after its formation. From 2000 to 2012, all fire service to TMFPD was provided to residents by an interlocal agreement with Reno and serviced by City of Reno firefighters. For this service, the 83,000 residents living within the 733 square-miles of the TMFPD district paid for a portion of the combined fire service budget.
The TMFPD Board of Fire Commissioners, made up of the Washoe County Commissioners, decided to dissolve the interlocal agreement in June of last year, recognizing that maintaining the fire service agreement with Reno without cost saving adjustments reflecting current economic conditions was not sustainable.
When first established, TMFPD had a fire chief and its own firefighters. Once consolidated with the interlocal agreement, all firefighters were laid off, yet the department still owned its own equipment, generated its own taxes and income and contracted employees out of the Reno Fire Department.
Now with the TMFPD back under county control, the future careers of these firefighters are limbo.
The county did not guarantee hiring the Reno firefighters as official TMFPD firefighters. Some, in fact, received layoff notices, as they told commissioners during the meeting Tuesday. By July 1, Reno could potentially layoff 80 firefighters if a decision is not made, according to the official timeline.
However Moore will staff the TMFPD district, he said he and his family are excited to be in the area and Moore is excited to start his new position. The county extended a three-year deal that still must be approved by the City of Reno. Commissioner Kitty Jung was the only dissenting vote.
“In my 23 years as chief and eight years and a firefighter, I’ve often had to meet those kind of instances as (in) life and death situations,” Moore said. “The question I’m asked most often is, ‘Isn’t that hard to do? You must have an awfully hard job.’ My answer to that is, no. It’s easy. It’s not easy to deal with life and death but it’s easy to be a compassionate and empathetic human being and that’s what being in the fire service is all about.”
Moore said he finds it most difficult to find the balance of dealing with scarce resources to do a job that requires such empathy.
“You have to make tough choices because if you had all of the resources you could get your hands on, you could be far more empathetic and far more prepared, but resources are scarce and you have to make very hard decisions,” Moore said. “I’m very excited to take on those challenges.”
Moore’s salary will start at $126,500 per year. He will report directly to the board of fire commissioners and it will consider his performance and award and increase in pay for Moore accordingly, according to his contract on each anniversary. The board will cover 100 percent of his health insurance premium and pay half of his dependent coverage.
Moore began working at the TMFPD in March, according to his LinkedIn.com profile. Before that, he was the Fire Chief at Eagle River Fire Protection District from January 2000 to December 2011. He was General Manager at the same district before that. Moore attended the Universty of Colorado at Boulder and went to South Denver High School.
In other news during Tuesday’s County Commissioner’s meeting, the Commissioners took action that formally proposed to the City of Reno to enter into an agreement to send the closest fire crew to calls for assistance.
Commissioners approved the proposal, with only Commissioner Jung dissenting, to recommend that Chairman Bob Larkin submit a proposal for a cooperative service agreement between the City of Reno, TMFPD and the Sierra Fire Protection District for fire services.. The agreement would be for the closest resource to respond first, regardless of jurisdictional boundaries, with exchange of benefits to include assumption by TM’FPD and SFPD of several City of Reno labor liabilities and transfer to TMFPD of certain city employees to save jobs and save City of Reno tax dollars, according to a county press release.
“Today, the Board of Fire Commissioners considered a proposal that includes an offer to the City of Reno that would retain the same mutually beneficial approach to providing shared response that has been in place since 1991,” Larkin said. “The offer for automatic aid to the City of Reno is being made in the best interest of service to the citizens and those Reno employees who are eligible for jobs with the new fire District.”