RENO, NV - Marty Richard, retired Fire Chief of Reno and 32-year veteran of the Reno Fire Department, passed away at home on February 4, 2014 after a long battle with cancer. He was 73.
Marty served as Fire Chief from 1990 to 1996 and previously as Reno Fire Marshal from 1978 to 1990. He started as a firefighter in 1964 and rose through the ranks, transitioning to the Fire Prevention Bureau in 1973 where he spent the majority of his career.
After five years as a Fire Inspector and Senior Inspector, Marty rose to the top position as Fire Marshal in 1978. With the 1980 MGM fire in Las Vegas, Marty oversaw a watershed change in buildings and commercial properties’ fire codes that became a new standard for the state of Nevada and eventually for cities throughout the United States.
He led a statewide effort for new fire prevention building codes, working with city and state officials as well as various business leaders to prevent a large-scale fire in the future.
Marty also began consulting with other cities and states to overhaul their fire codes and eventually this led to national changes in fire prevention. He was a member of the International Fire Marshals Association and served as their president from 1986 to 1987.
After more than 25 years serving the Reno Fire Department, Marty was tapped to lead the entire department in 1990 and remained the Chief until 1996.
During his tenure as Fire Chief, Marty began the early stages of consolidation of the Reno and Washoe County Fire Departments, overseeing an expanded mutual aid response program between Reno, Sparks and Washoe County. While full consolidation did not occur during his tenure, he created the roadmap toward consolidation that would later be adopted by the City of Reno and Washoe County Fire Agencies.
Reno Fire Chief Mike Hernandez said, “Marty always remained active in fire service issues with community safety always first.”
In addition to the Fire Marshal’s Association, Marty was a member of the Nevada Fire Chief’s Association, the International Association of Fire Chiefs, The National Fire Protection Association and was appointed to the Nevada Emergency Response Commission by Governor Bob Miller. He served with distinction until 1996, when he retired after 32 years with the Reno Fire Department. On February 1, 2014, Chief Hernandez awarded Marty the Reno Fire Department’s highest distinction, the Medal of Honor.
After retiring, Marty continued to serve his community through his many associations and passions. As a member of the Kerak Shrine, he devoted his time to raising funds for the Shrine Hospitals. He was also an active member of the Reno Rodeo Association for many years and member and past president of the Nevada White Hats.
His love of horses resulted in building his small 7-acre ranch just off of Huffaker Lane, enjoying the “country life” for the past 25 years, surrounded by his family, and complete with horses, chickens, dogs, cats and a donkey.
He is survived by his wife, Liz, and his three children, their spouses and his four grandchildren. His service is scheduled for 11:30am on Sunday, February 9, 2014 at the Kerak Shrine Temple at 4935 Energy Way.