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Interview: Despite Bitter Court Battle, Reno and Washoe Fire Forces Must Work Together

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A new law is requiring Washoe County and the City of Reno to offer what's called automatic aid for their fire services so that the closest engine responds to a blaze despite jurisdiction. The two are negotiating that now and must have a plan in place by October, but they’re also still fighting in court about their failed merger several years ago. To get the latest on this local battle, Reno Public Radio’s Michelle Bliss spoke to Anjeanette Damon, from the Reno Gazette-Journal, who has covered the issue extensively.

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If you've got time and want the whole scoop, check out this extended version of our interview with Anjeanette Damon.

Several months ago, the City of Reno filed a lawsuit claiming that the Truckee Meadows Fire Protection District still owes the city for unpaid bills from the previous merger. Washoe County denies that allegation, and last week the county filed a counterclaim saying that the City of Reno destroyed some of its equipment during the contentious separation back in 2012.

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Anjeanette Damon is the local government watchdog reporter for the Reno Gazette-Journal.

There was hope after last year's elections that this conflict would die down, Damon says, but that clearly hasn't happened.

"Most of the people involved in making the decision on the fire divorce are no longer elected," she explains, "but these old divisions have still carried forward and new divisions are starting to be made that are affecting the disagreement over fire."

Damon notes that there are several pockets throughout the area where the closest fire engine may actually belong to the other jurisdiction. Those include Hidden Valley and Caughlin Ranch. Both are in the City of Reno but the nearest fire stations are run by the county. 

Michelle Billman is a former news director at KUNR Public Radio.
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