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Sparks selects new fire chief again


The lengthy, and bumpy, road to finding a chief for the Sparks Fire Department may have reached an end this week after officials within the city selected Walt White for the long-vacant role. Sparks City Council members on Monday, Feb. 27 will review White’s contract for approval. 

White wasn’t part of the trio announced in January as being interviewed for the job. He had already interviewed last fall and was the city’s original choice for the role of fire chief but declined the job at the time. 

Walt White, Sparks’ new fire chief.

“Now is the right timing for me to accept the position of City of Sparks Fire Chief,” White said. “My family and I are excited to be a part of the Sparks community.”

White is leaving the post of chief at the Amador Fire Protection District where he’s served for four-and-a-half years. He has more than 36 years of fire experience, including as fire chief for the City of Sacramento, and extensive training including through multiple preparedness and fire service leadership programs. 

If his contract is approved, White will succeed Mark Lawson, who served for less than a week in December 2022 before being asked to resign following the announcement that multiple felony drug charges against him were forthcoming. 

Prior to Lawson, Sparks Fire’s chief Jim Reid resigned in April 2022 following a vote of no confidence against him by members of the local fire union. 

White is set to take over a department that has seen its share of turmoil beyond the leadership shakeups. Firefighters within the department have expressed concerns for years about short staffing, underfunding and required overtime that they say puts lives at risk. 

Kristen Hackbarth
Kristen Hackbarth
Kristen Hackbarth is a freelance editor and communications professional with more than 20 years’ experience working in marketing, public relations and communications in northern Nevada. Kristen graduated from the University of Nevada, Reno with a degree in photography and minor in journalism and has a Master of Science in Management and Leadership. She also serves as director of communications for Nevada Cancer Coalition, a statewide nonprofit. Though she now lives in Atlanta, she is a Nevadan for life and uses her three-hour time advantage to get a jump on the morning’s news.