This is a guest post by Tom Daly
Fire protection in Washoe County
Nevada Senate Concurrent Resolution 2 (Kieckhefer R-16) would direct the Legislative Commission to appoint a committee to study fire protection services in Washoe County. Committee members would only be legislators, appointed by legislative leaders. No outside experts, local officials or taxpayers need apply.
Since 2008, there have been five such expert studies. Those studies are gathering dust, with the majority of their recommendations unfulfilled yet, on one issue, they all agree. In order to improve fire and emergency medical services (EMS) to residents county-wide, you must first ‘fix dispatch’.
Fire & EMS in Washoe County are currently dispatched by four different entities being the Washoe County Sheriff (WCSO) for the Truckee Meadows and North Lake Tahoe Fire Protection Districts (TMFPD & NLTFPD), the City of Reno, the City of Sparks and, for EMS, the Regional Emergency Medical Services Authority (REMSA).
Consider that in Clark County their consolidated ‘regional dispatch authority’ (cities of Las Vegas and North Las Vegas along with Clark County) has, for two decades, handled fire & EMS dispatch efficiently for all three jurisdictions with the costs pro-rated based on the number of calls per jurisdiction.
IXP Corporation’s 2016 dispatch study reported that the 1990 dispatch agreement between Reno and Washoe County, trading forensics and dispatch services, could be amended resulting in the saving of $991K each year, collectively, for those two jurisdictions via a consolidated dispatch operation run solely by the WCSO. The County Auditor in June 2015 reported that the current agreement results in a cost of $560K each year (since at least 2007) borne by County taxpayers subsidizing Reno. Our County
Commissioners could dissolve this agreement on a ninety-day notice and bring a new agreement forward, but have not even agendized this issue for discussion, much less ‘for possible action’.
And if you think the ‘closest unit’ is being dispatched for fires, per the existing ‘automatic aid’ agreement between Reno and the TMFPD, you would be mistaken. That agreement ‘carves out’ portions of the Double Diamond community so that RFD#12 Steamboat will respond, despite TM#33 Foothill being closer by travel time, the agreed upon metric to define ‘closest’. Reno also refuses to activate its ‘automatic vehicle locator’ (AVL) technology so that the ‘closest unit’ is dispatched regardless of the call’s locale. Sparks and the TMFPD do so. Reno instead opts for delayed response by its units so its fire union can be satisfied – citizen safety be damned.
Our politicians delay and deflect but never decide.
Senator Kieckhefer’s well-intentioned resolution will change nothing until 2021, if ever.
God help you if your house catches on fire before then.