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Retired Reno Fire Chief Marty Richard dies



fire-chief-richard-258x300-4645219-7295995Marty Richard, retired fire chief of Reno and 32-year veteran of the Reno Fire Department, passed away at home on Feb. 4 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 road map 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 and 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 Feb. 1 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 seven-acre ranch just off 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, Feb. 9, at the Kerak Shrine Temple at 4935 Energy Way.


  • Born:    October 15, 1940, Queens, New York to Jerry and Esther Richard
  • Raised in Queens, New York until age 11, then moved to Miami Beach, Florida
  • Graduated from Miami Beach High School, Class of 1958
  • Attended University of Florida for one year before joining US Air Force
  • Military:  US Air Force – Stationed at Stead Air Force Base 1959-1963, jet aircraft training
  • Earned degrees in Fire Science and Criminal Justice
  • Married in July 1963 to Elizabeth Little, a Reno native.  Celebrated 50 years of marriage in 2013.


  • 1964-1973         Firefighter for Reno Fire Department.   Active in Local 731 and served as its President
  • 1973-1978         Fire Inspector for RFD’s Fire Prevention Bureau
  • 1978-1990         Reno Fire Marshal
  • 1990-1996         Fire Chief, City of Reno
  • Retired in 1996
  • Member of International Fire Marshals Association, serving as President 1986-1987
  • Member of Nevada Fire Chiefs Association
  • Member of National Fire Protection Association
  • Appointed to the Nevada Emergency Response Commission by Gov. Bob Miller
  • Member of International Association of Fire Chiefs
  • Awarded Reno Fire Department Medal of Honor by Reno Fire Chief Mike Hernandez, February 2014


  • Active in Reno Kennel Club and Reno 4-Wheelers during the 1970s, serving as President of each club.
  • Became a Freemason in 1973, followed by memberships in Scottish Rites and Kerak Shrine Arabian Band, Jesters and Caravaners.  As an Arabian, he was Sultan of his unit, as well as President of the Western Association of Shrine Oriental Bands.
  • Member of Reno Rodeo Association – His favorite job during the rodeo was opening the gate for the bronc and the bull.
  • Member and Past President of Nevada White Hats
  • Associated with the Lake Ditch for 25 years and was its current President


  • Life-long motorcycle enthusiast.  He loved riding with his fellow firefighters.
  • A love of horses resulted in Marty building the M&L Ranch.  He has enjoyed the “country-life” over the past 25 years, complete with many dogs, cats, horses, chickens and a donkey.
  • Avid handball and racquetball player throughout his life.
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