City and County Talking About Merging Fire Services

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RENO -- Washoe County and City of Reno leaders are discussing merging, at least some, fire protection services. Two years ago, Washoe County and the City of Reno separated their combined firefighting services. At the time, county leaders argued the move would save money.

Commissioner Marsha Berkbigler said now the county may re-examine whether combining services could make financial sense.

"There are several places they have a fire station and we have a fire station and they are literally right across the street from each other. Would it be beneficial for us to close one of those fire stations and move all of the firemen into one fire station?" Berkbigler said.

The issue has been highly contentious in recent years.

"New ideas, fresh blood there's nothing rancorous going on now," she said.

A media representative for the City of Reno declined to provide an interview on the topic, but said talks on the matter were taking place.

Berkbigler said a fire at a Hidden Valley home in November also played a role in the talks. Better-equipped Reno crews did not automatically respond to the call because the home is in Washoe County's jurisdiction.

"If we had automatic aid, we could have gotten a bigger truck there much faster," she said. However, she added the fire may have been ultimately just as destructive.

County commissioners are slated to discuss fire services at their meeting Tuesday.

Berkbigler said any new agreement would not be in place soon, and some combining of service could require legislative action. She said the two sides are talking, but there are no negotiations happening.