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Part One 1953 – 1988
The following was written by former District Chief, Martin Jensen in March of 1988 in a letter given to new members of the Fernley Volunteer Fire Department.
“Welcome and congratulations for having been accepted into the Fernley Volunteers Fire Department. In order to better understand how, when and why the Fire Department was established I have put together a little history of the Town of Fernley.
In the 1900s to the early 1920s the U.S. Government began what is now known as the Truckee Irrigation District or TCID Newlands Project, which started near Fernley and ended up in Fallon. The only large structure, in what is now known as Fernley, was a water tower for the steam engines of the Southern Pacific Railroad and a few homes.
Wadsworth was a small town with a church and school and a wheel house for the engines. Most everyone who lived there worked for the railroad.
The 30’s saw a small farm community develop in Fernley along with some small business. U.S. Highway 40, which is now I-80 was the main street of town. There are some remnants of it still in use. Part of U.S. 40 can be found behind the State Department of Transportation Yard on the west end of town and there are some abandoned strips on the east end of town. The 30’s and 40’s brought in more people and the community began to grow with schools and churches.
In the early 50’s the only water system in town was a redwood water line went down Miller Lane and was used for stock water and gardens. Some homes were using it for drinking water. TCID who had built the line had never intended it to be used for domestic purposes. During that time a water district was formed by citizens of Fernley. An old redwood tank was brought up from Tonopah. The tank was never used and people began to help themselves to the lumber. Parts of the tank later became the beams and rafters of the Fire House.
On September 13th, 1951 ground was broken for the Fire House, it was decided to build a three door block building. In 1953 the building was completed and is now a two door portion of the main building. A used 1937 Ford Truck was given to the department by George Campbell and a 500 GPM Hale pump with a 1936 Ford flathead V-8 motor was installed on it. It has been said the pump came from the Hawthorne Fire Department. The pump and motor are now in storage. In 1952 North Lyon County Fire Protection District was formed. Later in 1956 the first factory made fire truck was delivered in Sparks on a flat car by Southern Pacific for the Fire Department. It was a brand new 1956 American LaFrance 750 GPM Ford Class A Pumper with a 1,000 gallon water tank. The Fire Air Horn and Siren were installed in the sixties.
In the 70’s a 40’x70’ addition with two doors was added on to the east side of the Fire House. In 1972 the Fire Department bought a used 1964 Dodge Power Wagon from L.A. Power and Water for $500.00 and a brush truck was made from it by using the old Hale 500 GPM pump and building a 300 gallon water tank. On October 29th, 1976 North Lyon County Fire Protection District purchased a 1976 American LaFrance 1250 GPM Class A Pumper for the Fire Department, also in that year a new ambulance was ordered and later purchased with grant money and department funds. It was delivered in 1977. This made the fourth ambulance purchased by the department. In October of 1977 the North Lyon County Fire Protection District purchased a used 1970 white long frame truck and made a 4,000 gallon tanker out of it for about $10,000.00.
Early in 1980 the Fire Department received the custom built Dodge 4×4 Mini Pumper which served as a brush truck. It was purchased by North Lyon County Fire Protection District. On October 13th, 1980 the Williams Garage located on the west side of the Fire House was purchased by North Lyon County Fire Protection District with Fleischmann Funds for $115,000 also the 1981 Chevrolet 4×4 Rescue Truck which was designed and partially constructed by members of the Fire Department was also purchased with Fleischmann Grant Funds for approximately $46,000.00. At the time of purchase it was decided to buy an ambulance that could be changed from one chassis to another… On June 24th, 1982 the Fire Department members added the kitchen onto the Fire House and the old storage room was turned into a training room in August 1986. The old kitchen was remodeled into an office in 1987.
September 28th, 1987 construction started on the new four door building between the Fire House and the old Williams Garage at a cost of $90,000.00. Also in September a contract was signed to purchase a 1500 GPM Class A Pumper for $138,000.00.
In closing, the future looks bright for the Fire Department and for the community with many more projects planned for future growth. The Fernley Volunteer Fire Department has a fine tradition through the years and has always worked hard to give the community a first class service. The Fernley Volunteer Fire Department relies on every member to do more than their share to keep up the high tradition and standards of this Department, which means a total commitment by each and everyone of us.”
Administrative Chief – N.L.C.F.P.D.
Part two 1988 – 2016
In the 1980s, the population of the North Lyon County Fire Protection District had more than doubled. By 1990, the population reached 5,164, and in 2000 the census count was 8,543 residents. The population had more than doubled, yet another time over the next decade, reaching 19,368 by the 2010 census. The growth included numerous subdivisions along Farm District Road, an 18-hole golf course community, a new elementary school and a new junior high school. Our District has grown to meet these challenges and is still striving to meet the demands for greater services.
In 1999, Amazon.com opened a 750,000 square-foot order fulfillment center in the Industrial Park located in the northeast side of the City, following major initiatives and investments by investors from Seattle. Stanley Works had previously used the facility. Amazon.com redesigned the interior systems and greatly expanded the capacity in the years since. The investment provided thousands of new jobs for the City and invigorated the economy in the metropolitan area. Since that time, more companies have opened facilities in the Industrial Park including Trex Inc., MSC, UPS Worldwide Logistics (FRAM), RMAX, Johns Manville, and Sherwin Williams Paint. Recently several companies have opened on Logan Lane in West Fernley, following the long time Valley Joist facility.
On July 1, 2001, the City of Fernley was incorporated. In 2004, two full time Firefighter/EMTs were added to a staff of two Chiefs and a full time Administrative Assistant. Over the next three years a Training Chief and two more Firefighter/EMT positions were added.
Station 62 was also built on Red Rock Road, donated by CAL Investment Company. During this time and until 2012 the District respond to several large industrial fires.
In 2008 the District started the North Lyon County Fire Protection District Volunteer Program moving all Volunteers from the former Fernley Volunteer Fire Department to the District. On January 5, 2008, a levee along the Truckee Carson Irrigation District Canal broke, forcing the rescue and evacuation of 3,500 people from the town as three to six feet (0.91 to 1.83 m) of water filled houses. The District Staff and Volunteers responded to the communities needs and no deaths or serious injury occurred with countless rescued. Nevada Mutual Aid Resources contributed with personnel from state and federal agencies. Additional apparatus and rescue aircraft were used to assist due to the fast moving waters.
In 2009 the District took over ALS (Advanced Life Support) Transport Services from the Fernley Volunteer Fire Department and hired additional Firefighter/EMS providers. Carson City Fire and Central Lyon County Fire Protection District contributed to our District becoming an ALS Service. The Administration had the following positions: District Chief, Fire Marshal, Training Chief, and an Administrative Assistant. From 2009 to the current date the District enhanced the care of residents using the emergency medical services and has hosted many educational courses increasing care across Nevada.
In 2010 the District started new programs to reduce the impact of fire and began to reduce the number of industrial incidents in Fernley.
From 2004 to 2014 the following individuals served as District Fire Chief after Chief Marty Jensen. They were Jim Lemke, Hector Blanco, (Acting) Scott Huntley, Darryl Cleveland, and (Interim) Steve Carr.
In April 2014 Scott Huntley became District Fire Chief. Due to the economic down turn, the communities’ tax base was greatly reduced. The District, having the lowest Fire Protection Tax Rate in the county, had a challenge to maintain services with a limited budget. The Administration staff was reduced to its current level, one District Fire Chief and a District Office Manager. In 2014 the Fire District’s call volume hit new records, responding to 2,700 incidents. 2014 has also brought new planned subdivisions and additional industry, the impact of Tesla and other Storey County industrial facilities are being felt and will cause more needs from the community. Facing these challenges, the District began replacing aging apparatus while ensuring they were financially stable for years to come.
The staff also began assisting with in-state and out–of-state Wildland Suppression, helping reduce the impact of wildland fires. Our contributions were felt as far as Washington, Texas, Oregon, Idaho and California.
In 2014 the District received two Quantum Pierce Engines from the City of Las Vegas. This could not have occurred without the Staff and Chief working together as a team. These Engines were repainted and fully outfitted with new hose and equipment.
The past brought fast changes to our Community and Fire District. The current Staff and Volunteers embrace this fast pace and the challenges. We know the future is bright and look forward to making history as one of the best Fire-EMS agencies in Nevada. 2016 will bring North Lyon’s first all new EMS Rescue Ambulance designed for our community and we plan to purchase a new Type 3 Engine and another addition to the staff.
We will not forget the individuals that have contributed to the District over the years and into the future. Our Engines are marked with the first Fire Chief, Marty Jensen’s initials, MJ, and the new rescue ambulance is dedicated to long time EMS provider John Lambert. The past will help guide us to meet the needs of our community and fill our mission.