The Reno Fire Department issued layoff notices to 16 employees today, two were clerical staff, two fire prevention officers and 12 front line firefighters.
"A difficult day for the department and the community<" said Acting chief Tim Alameda.
Alameda had just spent several hours going station to station for face to face meetings with the employees he was losing. The strain was showing. So was the pride.
"They never missed a beat," he said of those who were told they were working their last shift. "Public service all the way. I had one firefighter tell me this morning ‘Chief, on my last shift I rescued a child."
That would Gabe Jurado, one of the 12 firefighters notified last night he was on his last shift. His last call as a Reno fireman was getting a two year old out of a locked car on a cold night. "A good one to go out on," said Jurado. "That’s what we do. We help people."
Jurado is one of the newest members of the fire department and his layoff didn’t come as a surprise. Unmarried, he’s not facing the same financial challenges as some of the others, but otherwise he’s typical of the laid off firefighters.
"We’re losing our youngest our stringest." says Alameda.
Jurado remains positive and is determined to roll with the punches. So is the department he leaves behind, but things have changed fundamentally.
Keeping the city cover as best they can now means Alameda and his Battalion Chiefs will face a daily manpower problem. If every remaining fireman shows up for work, there’s no problem, but that never happens.
"Firefighting is agressive, physically intense," says Alameda. "tPersonal injuries, sick leave, vacation. You can’t work someone every day without giving them some time off."
The department is working on an operational plan to address the problem and Alameda expects to put it into effect in the next few days.
Still, covering the city and keeping response times down will for the time being be a daily challenge.