East Fork fire investigator retires
When there was a fire, a plane crash or a major incident going on in Carson Valley, East Fork Capt. Terry Taylor’s number was on the equivalent of speed dial for every newspaper, television station and news site in Western Nevada.
After more than 20 years with the district, Taylor retired Friday as fire inspector and investigator.
“Terry’s retirement from the district will leave a large void in our organization,” East Fork Fire Chief Tod Carlini said. “His overall work effort over the past 20-plus years had been incredible. Terry is without a doubt one of the most proficient fire and arson investigators in the nation.”
Taylor was a Johnson Lane volunteer firefighter for eight years before coming to work for East Fork on Sept. 13, 1997.
He grew up in Berkeley, Calif., and graduated with a degree in public administration from California State University-Hayward.
In 2015, he told R-C Staff Writer Caryn Haller that he’d investigated 1,500 fires, breaking them down to 900 structure fires, 300 vehicle fires, 100 wildland fires and 200 miscellaneous fires.
“I love the mystery of figuring out where it started and how it started and if somebody did it on purpose,” Taylor said. “I love bringing them to justice and making them accountable for what they’ve done. It’s really a nasty crime, arson is, when people start fires to get even with people or to collect money.”
Taylor began his career at age 18 as a seasonal firefighter in Northern California.
In 1974, Taylor became a police cadet, and worked in law enforcement for two years before he decided to give it up. As a child his family visited Lake Tahoe, so when gave up the badge, he moved to Lake Tahoe where he worked construction.
In 1979, Taylor returned to firefighting as a marine firefighter for the City of Santa Barbara Harbor Police.
For the next two years, Taylor worked for the Nevada Department of Parole and Probation and the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles in the commercial vehicle investigation division.
Two Las Vegas hotel fires where 93 people lost their lives, at the MGM in 1980 and the Hilton fire in 1981, led to the creation of the Nevada Fire Safety Commission.
Taylor said he was one of hundreds of applicants before he was hired as one of the state’s first two full-time fire investigators.
He went back to the private sector and in July 1993 he was quoted in The R-C talking about the Sequoia Village Apartment fire in the Gardnerville Ranchos, which displaced 28 people.
During the Johnson Lane flood of 1994, he helped rescue a family from their home. He served as chief of the Johnson Lane Volunteer Fire Department in the second half of the 1990s, and on the East Fork Fire Arson Response Team.
“What Terry brought to the District in terms of his investigatory experience was well beyond what any agency could have hoped for,” Carlini said.
Carlini joined the district a few weeks before Taylor, and said he was a friend, co-worker, and when it came to fire investigation, a mentor.
“Taylor is a recognized authority in fire investigations within the region, the State of Nevada, and nationally, having provided college level instruction at the National Fire Academy in Maryland,” he said.
Taylor also worked with the Nevada Legislature on several bills.