As Layoffs Loom, Firefighter's Wife Rallies Public Support

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RENO, NV - May 3, 2012, Reno Mayor Bob Cashell called a press conference and, with most of the city council looking on, announced a solution to a thorny problem which was leading to big cuts in the city's fire department in money and jobs.

The good news came in the form of a federal grant of $13 million dollars.

It was an 11th hour reprieve. There were no layoffs. All the city's stations remained open.

Two years later that funding has run out. The city hasn't received a new grant and is facing the same sort of budget crunch.

At the moment, the solution is the layoffs of 35 firefighters--fully a quarter of the city's firefighting staff--on July First.

That would result in three of Reno's fire stations, being browned out--left unstaffed on days when the fire danger dipped below high.

That's spurred one firefighter's wife to action.

"I want to support my husband," says Jennifer Miceli, "but it also concerns me that the city I love is not making its fire department a priority."

Her husband, Wesley Boatman, would likely be one of the 35 layoffs.

So, she says she contacted every member of the city council and only got a response from one and that offered empathy, but little else.

"It was just essentially saying 'I care about the city and I can sympathize with you."

Feeling she needed more people standing with her to get the city's attention, she decided to start an online petition. It started slow, but as its been networked, responses are picking up. Earlier today they numbered more than 900.

"A lot of them are upset. They don't think this is something that should be compromised."

Miceli admits she doesn't have the solution, but if she can enough responses by May First, when the layoff notices go out, she can convince the council to find one.

"I want to show this is not just one concerned wife of a firefighter. There are many citizens of Reno and from outside Reno who think this is an issue and want to see it resolved."

If you'd like to weigh in on this issue, you'll find a link to her petition on our website. Just click on the "Hot Topics" button.