Editor’s note: Over the next three weeks, the Town Crier will interview each of the six candidates for the Idyllwild Fire Protection District commission. The series begins with interviews with incumbent commissioners Pete Capparelli and Paul Riggi. Ballots mailed to voters are due back to the Registrar of Voters’ office by Aug. 30. Riggi has served on the commission since December 2007.
What are IFPD’s priorities for the next year and next five years?
First is to focus on the budget, which is definitely our priority. Then fire prevention inspections. Medical service and firefighting are doing a good job. Over this period, we’re looking to improve the high level of efficiency among the firefighters and commissioners.
How can you help achieve these priorities?
My career is fire protection. [Riggi continues to be a private fire investigator.] I can make sure the inspections happen. We review the chief’s reports.
Are the district’s finances resolved? What is the need for Measure G?
No, the board is not content if there is any unnecessary spending. But we can’t do anything that jeopardizes the community and maintain our level of firefighting.
The measure is critical for Idyllwild Fire. If you have a private business and find costs increasing over time, you can adjust the costs of your product. In the public sector, the costs of operation lag the economy and people question the need for more funds. Economy dictates taxes and costs. You need money to operate. We need to maintain equipment to protect the community and funds for continuing training of staff.
What about getting more inspections completed?
We’re doing inspections. They are not lagging based on the last reports that I’ve seen. We’re in good shape and it’s improved since I first came on board.
What about the latest grand jury report? Will IFPD do the study?
In one sense, medical and fire are separate services. In Idyllwild, the same staff provides both services, so we get two for one.
What will the board do about the comments directed at Commissioner Schelly?
That’s a problem Dr. Schelly is going to have to resolve. If the Grand Jury says, “either [a commissioner] or [a paid-call firefighter],” he has to make a decision to be either [one] or [the other].
Why did the paid-call cadre virtually disappear?
The paid-call firefighters have essentially disappeared. I haven’t seen any push for more paid-call to increase its numbers. I haven’t seen any active recruiting for them. Several paid-call members became reserves. They’re worth their weight and did a great job. They were well trained and they deserve a pat on the back.
My interest in doing this is to serve the community. I’ve learned quite a lot since beginning and I’m better prepared now. It’s been on-the-job training. I’ve been in firefighting all my life. It’s [the commission] all about what’s best for the community.