Mutual aid agreement amended to streamline reponses

RENO, Nev. ( & KRNV) -- The Fire Departments in Reno and Washoe County are on a new page when it comes to providing mutual aid. The City Council unanimously approved a critical change to a mutual aid agreement.

The change to the agreement is all designed to improve fire response times. It all stems from a fire about three months ago, which destroyed a Hidden Valley home owned by Richard West.

Reports show it took a County fire crew 15 minutes to arrive, even though Reno's fire station was only a mile away from the fire. It also took that crew nearly a half hour to ask Reno Fire for help. By then, the fire was fully involved.

The County Fire Chief said the delay was caused by restrictive wording in the mutual aid agreement. This change no longer requires a career officer on the scene to be the only one that can call for mutual assistance.

After the vote, Reno Fire Chief Michael Hernandez said the change will streamline the process, but may not prevent another Hidden Valley incident. "We can never say this will never happen again. What we can say is we streamlined the process for assistance."

Fire behavior prevents him from providing absolutes, but he does add this change will be beneficial for homeowners and others this upcoming fire season.