This Is Reno sat down with Charles Moore, fire chief of the Sierra and Truckee Meadows Fire Protection Districts. We chatted about his job and how people can protect themselves from fire during these last weeks of summer.
This Is Reno: Tell us a little bit about yourself and what your role with Truckee Meadows Fire Protection is.
Charles Moore: Thank you for the opportunity to share some background about me and my fire department. I started my duties as Fire Chief of Sierra and Truckee Meadows Fire Protection Districts on April 2, 2012 and immediately got to work to re-establish Truckee Meadows and Sierra Fire Districts as the fire service provider for unincorporated Washoe County. Standing up Truckee Meadows Fire District was the single greatest professional challenge of my career. Despite the challenges being over the top in complexity and controversy, I was able to accomplish the goals of the Fire Commissioners with the help and hard work of many Washoe County employees who worked tirelessly to make TMFPD successful. Our current success is due to a great team of fire professionals and volunteers who respond to difficult challenges on a daily basis in order to help people in some of the worst circumstances of their lives.
I have 35 years of fire service experience and have been a Fire Chief for over 25 years. My role is to manage the many facets of our operation so financial resources are expended in the most efficient way and recommend to the Board of Fire Commissioners how we best use those financial resources to deliver highest quality of service to our citizens. An example is the District’s expansion of Paramedic Advanced Life Support service to the entire District. When our citizens call 911 for help, close to 80% of the time it is for an acute or traumatic medical emergency. Without question, the District’s Paramedic Firefighters have saved a number of lives over the last three years as a result of that service.
A little about my personal life, I have been married to my wonderful wife for 22 years and I have two kids, both attending college. My daughter is studying veterinary medicine and my son is studying environmental science. I have maintained an interest in martial arts for the last 18 years. In 2005, I won a USKA World Championship in sparring (but don’t be too impressed because it was the old guys division.) The mental and physical discipline I developed in martial arts has translated to all areas of my life and taught me to persevere through tough challenges.
This Is Reno: As a fire fighter, what’s the strangest call you’ve had to respond to?
Charles Moore: Over the last 35 years of my career, I have seen many tragic and strange things happen to people. The strangest call I can recall was a response to a vehicle accident with occupants trapped. Arriving on the scene, I didn’t expect the occupants of the car to be pinned inside by a 600 pound elk. Unfortunately, the car hit the elk with enough speed that the animal came through the windshield, landing on top of the driver and his passenger. It took many minutes to free the victims and involved cutting away the back of the vehicle with Jaws of Life tools so there was enough room to bring the victims out the rear of the car. We also had to lift the elk up off of the victims, which was no easy task.
This Is Reno: The weather is now turning to hot and dry. How can people protect themselves from fire danger in these last few months leading up to winter?
Charles Moore: This is a great question. Keep in mind there are internal and external fire threats to homes. The external threats come from wildfire and the best way for people to protect themselves is to modify their landscaping, and in some cases, also materials on their homes, like roofing materials, so that approaching fires burn around the home – and not into it. www.livingwithfire.info offers great advice to help you create defensible space and it is the single most effective thing you can do to protect your home.
As far as internal fire threats (fires that start inside your home), the District is seeing trends in accidental causes that are easily preventable. Some of our most recent residential fires have been caused by improper disposal of fireplace and barbecue briquette ashes that are not entirely cool. The residual pieces of wood and coal may be cool to the touch, but they are quite often still hot inside. Fires start when these ashes are disposed of before they are completely cold and they re-ignite. Oily rags have also been a recent cause of two destructive fires. Oils like linseed oil, when used on cotton rags, can spontaneously ignite. A chemical reaction between the oil and cotton generates its own heat, enough heat, in some cases, to start a fire.
The District will offer free ash cans again this fall. The ash cans provide a safe way to dispose of ash and oily rags and when used properly, can prevent a disastrous fire. Finally, don’t forget to make sure your home is protected with working smoke detectors.