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Ethics complaints filed against Sparks city manager, outgoing fire chief

By Bob Conrad

Sparks’ city manager and outgoing fire chief are facing complaints by Sparks firefighters alleging the two violated state ethics laws.

City of Sparks spokesperson Julie Duewel at first said the complaints filed by the Sparks Fire union reps “are yet another unfounded and disparaging attack on city officials,” but when provided copies of the complaints, the city then changed its tune.

Sparks firefighters are battling city management and in March issued a vote of no confidence against Fire Chief Jim Reid. Reid, two weeks later, announced his retirement.

Sparks City Manager Neil Krutz said on March 14 Reid “is a consummate fire professional and public servant who strives to serve the best interests of the people. He demonstrates by word and action the highest ethical standards. I have full faith in Chief Reid’s ability to lead the Sparks Fire Department.”

Sparks Fire union reps in mid-June, however, filed two complaints with the Nevada Commission on Ethics – one each against Krutz and Reid. They allege Reid played favorites with Krutz by waiving a requirement to install sprinklers.

Sparks Fire Chief Jim Reid
Sparks Fire Chief Jim Reid

“Local 1265 believes that the City of Sparks City Manager has misused his position as a manager to gain financial savings,” the fire union alleged. “He has bypassed the fire code and did not sprinkler his home when it was clearly required by the fire code. 

“The Acting Fire Marshal at the time had been in the position for only a few weeks when the City Manager’s home bypassed Fire Department plans review.”

They said Krutz’ home exceeded a 5,000 square-foot size that required sprinklers to be installed. 

After being given copies of the complaints, Assistant City Manager Alyson McCormick said the city is taking the matter seriously.

“The City of Sparks takes allegations along these lines very seriously. City staff will investigate the allegations, and the affected personnel will respond to the Nevada Commission on Ethics as appropriate under Nevada law,” she said.

Firefighters also allege services to Sparks residents are inadequate and are endangering the lives of Sparks residents. They said the city has not hired enough positions for the size of the growing community.

“It’s important to note that the City is actively recruiting, and since February 2022, has hired three firefighters and seven firefighter/paramedics,” Duewel countered. “In the FY 23 budget that begins on July 1, 2022, three new firefighter/firefighter paramedic positions will be added to the City’s complement. Through the recruiting process, our Human Resources Department already has potential hires for these positions.”

Duewel said the city is also getting land to build a new fire station and buying more safety equipment for the department. 

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