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Two-years-ago there was a deconsolidation of fire services provided by Reno, Nevada and neighboring Washoe County. The bitter divorce ended with no automatic aid agreement in place and a warning of you will be sorry by Reno Mayor Bob Cashell.
The scenario Mayor Cashell warned of seems to have played out after a fire destroyed the Washoe County home of car dealer Richard West on Saturday. West's home is in Hidden Valley, with the closest fire station six-minutes away, across the line in Reno.
The video above shows the results of the fire. The articles below describe the reaction from leaders on both sides of the county/city line. For a detailed account read the aricle by Anjeanette Damon of RGJ.com (excerpts below).
Hidden Valley is in the unincorporated area of Washoe County, so the call went first to the Truckee Meadows Fire Protection District.
The district has a station, number 37, a short distance away. They were on scene within 5 minutes, but with only a two man crew in a "rescue vehicle", essentially a pickup truck with a fire hose..
The call went out to three better equipped and manned stations, but the nearest was in Sun Valley, its engines and three man crews, fifteen minutes away.
The crews and engines of Reno Fire's Station 6 were but five minutes away on Mira Loma Drive.
Before deconsolidation they would have responded immediately, but a full 25 minutes would pass between the first alarm, and a call from Truckee Meadows to Reno for mutual assistance. That delay is raising concerns about the level of fire protection here and in other unincorporated neighborhoods.
Two years ago amid the debate that ended in deconsolidation of local fire services–the city and the county going their separate ways–Reno Mayor Bob Cashell warned the move would leave unincorporated areas like Hidden Valley at risk.
In the wake of Saturday's fire the mayor was not saying 'I told you so,' but he was saying this fire and the destruction it brought was no surprise.
"We met with Hidden Valley and we met with Caughlin Ranch and explained to them where their services were going to come from and they seemed OK with that. I was told I wasn't the mayor of Hidden Valley and to leave the meeting and so I left."
“I think it’s sickening,” Cashell said Monday. “This family lost all their heirlooms. Go back and check the damn records, it was all spelled out. It’s disgusting. If they had called us instead of Sun Valley first, we could’ve been there in five minutes.
“I think it’s disgusting what the people in Hidden Valley were promised. They got what they were promised. A two-person crew with a garden hose.”
Reno Fire Chief Michael Hernandez said the fire calls into question the county’s fundamental responsibility to provide enough resources, quickly enough to respond to a “typical structure fire.”
Truckee Meadows Fire Protection District Chief Charles Moore defended his department’s response, saying the outcome likely would have been no different had Reno’s four-person engine company arrived first — the fire had too much of a head start on them.
At the time of the deconsolidation, Reno didn’t want to subsidize fire response to areas not in their jurisdiction and the county didn’t want to pay the reimbursement bill Reno was asking for. The county argued their fire crews would help Reno, too, offsetting any perceived subsidization.
Moore said the county waited to ask for mutual aid from Reno and Sparks because they thought they had the fire contained to the garage. It wasn’t until later that they found it had spread to the house.