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County moves toward independent fire service
by Tribune Staff
Aug 10, 2011 | 1398 views | 0 0 comments | 1 1 recommendations | email to a friend | print
RENO — The Washoe County Commission on Tuesday received a report from Fire Services Coordinator Kurt Latipow outlining a plan to return full authority for the administration and operation of the Truckee Meadows Fire Protection District to the county by July 2012.

In June, county commissioners, acting as the board of fire commissioners of the Truckee Meadows Fire Protection District (TMFPD), voted to give notice of its termination of the agreement for fire services with the Reno Fire Department (RFD) effective June 30, 2012. 

TMFPD currently pays $11.3 million annually to the (RFD for fire services. Financial analysis has shown that this funding is not sustainable given ongoing property tax revenue reductions in that fire district’s service territory. Specifically, commissioners requested that the RFD consider a change to the collective bargaining agreement to three-person minimum engine crews instead of four-person engine crews to reduce costs and the need to close, or “brown out,” existing fire stations. This request was denied. 

In his presentation Tuesday, Latipow noted that the county had contracted with Emergency Services Consulting International to assist with developing a strategic transition plan as directed by commissioners. The draft presented described in detail the actions necessary to accomplish the transfer of operational responsibility and was divided into nine functional areas: organization, capital assets and equipment, human resources, finance, risk management, legal, technology, external relationships and volunteer fire departments. 

More than 35 key stakeholders, both internal and external to Washoe County government, were interviewed to determine the many tasks that would be required to complete the transition. 

The plan reflects the results of those interviews and staff is projecting that the transitional budget will be increased to $1 million, mostly attributable to earlier moving of the volunteer fleet to county locations and the potential need to train new hires if not all staff is transferred from the RFD as provided for in the current contract. Funding for the start-up costs would come from the fire district’s general fund savings and its capital improvement program.

Commissioners said their long-term goal is regionalization of fire services and they would initially pursue the merger of the Sierra Fire Protection District and the Truckee Meadows Fire Protection District since both will be under their authority effective July 2012.
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