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Reno, county still have fire issues as storms loom
by Jill Lufrano - jlufrano@dailysparkstribune.com
Jul 10, 2012 | 1237 views | 0 0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print
RENO — The northern Nevada region awaits the arrival of a series of storms today through the end of the week — putting the newly formed Truckee Meadows Fire District on high alert.

But Chief Charles Moore has a plan for this impending event, should it materialize.

“We will be mobilized at a high level,” Moore said Tuesday. “Won’t necessarily staff up. What you’re doing is second-guessing Mother Nature. We’re going be busy as heck.”

In no more than 90 days, Moore has done what some said couldn’t be done. Moore, a recent newcomer from Colorado, has assembled a full crew of 80 fully trained firefighters for the Truckee Meadows region, joined with Sierra Fire Protection District, mobilized a volunteer corps to man stations in the event of a massive incident and managed to stand up a fire district for the county that hadn’t had its own in decades.

He also has managed to sign off on agreements for mutual aid or automatic aid with surrounding local, regional and federal agencies for assistance during large events.

The only major neighboring agency that hasn’t come to the table with an agreeable mutual aid plan is the city of Reno.

Today, though, a mutual aid item isn’t on the agenda for the Reno City Council. The County Commission on Tuesday approved a mutual aid agreement to be forwarded to Reno, and Moore hopes the Reno council members will allow him to speak during public comment about the agreement as he asks for more time.

“If we’re able to make a presentation, we will,” Moore said. “I don’t know if I’ll be able to talk. But what we plan to do is just ask Reno for an extension. Hopefully, they will agree to more time to negotiate it.”

The issue remains with Reno’s elected officials not following typical procedural mutual aid agreements, which call for giving 12 hours of free aid and charging compensation following that time period.

The agreement approved Tuesday by the county contains the 12-hour aid. The city of Reno offered to extend only three hours of “free” mutual aid.

“This is not found in any other mutual aid agreement,” said Assistant District Attorney Paul Lipparelli.

The third issue is that the city of Reno’s elected officials are calling for Truckee Meadows to have a career fire officer on scene before mutual aid is summoned.

“The chief explained why that is not feasible,” Lipparelli said. “It’s a time factor.”

Even with the speed bumps blocking the mutual aid agreement with Reno, Moore said he is certain the two entities will eventually come to terms.

“We’ll figure something out,” Moore said. “I want to stay focused on getting a deal struck. I want to stay positive and come to an agreement on it. If it gets approved, we’re good.”

Moore is not discouraged with the troubles he has had with the city of Reno. During a meeting Tuesday, Washoe County commissioners signed off on another mutual aid agreement with the Reno-Sparks Indian Colony.

Moore’s plan to stand up the Truckee Meadows Fire Protection District appears to have been a success so far, he said.

“I believe our stand up was a success. In the first 24 hours, we answered 24 calls and responded to two major wildland fires,” Moore said.

One of the fires, the Pinehaven Fire, was on jurisdictional lines. Truckee Meadows dispatched six pieces of equipment to the fire.

Seven hours later, the fire district fought a battle of its own that consumed 6,490 acres in the Ironwood Fire north of Spanish Springs. Twenty three brush engines were used and several agencies assisted the district in snuffing out the fire by the next morning.

Since those first two days, the district has had little rest, Moore said. Fire crews have fought 18 brush fires, two on Monday night and nine last weekend. In all, 150 calls were taken in the first 10 days of operation.

“We’ve been very, very busy,” Moore said. “With that, we’re now waiting for a little bit of rain. We’re concerned for the lightning that is coming in Friday or Saturday.”

The National Weather Service in Reno is calling for thunderstorms beginning tonight, which will amp up by Friday, said Mark Deutschendorf. a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.

“There is a possibility of lightning that could strike outside of where the rain develops,” Deutschendorf said. “Since everything is so dry, if it hit something like dry vegetation, the possibility is there to trigger a fire. The lightning can occur beyond where the rain falls from that same storm. Sometimes lightning hits the ground several miles away from where the rain is falling.”

Although no fire danger warning is in place, Deutschendorf said meteorologists are keeping an eye on the area, he said.

“We’ll be keeping watch on how the storm evolves,” he said.
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Reno, county still have fire issues as storms loom by Jill Lufrano - jlufrano@dailysparkstribune.com


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