Idyllwild Fire Protection District (IFPD) underfunding, added to fees for CAL FIRE protection areas, Brown’s chopping the “Super Tanker” — all these mean something for Idyllwilders. Up here, fire is everything and sometimes the only thing.

Why do I say that? Not because we worry about flames consuming our houses — we do — but that is the disaster after the real disaster. The first disaster is insurance companies losing faith in our fire protection services.

Who do our firefighters protect? You and I? Wrong. They protect the insurance companies.

Who do the insurance companies protect? You and I? Wrong. They protect the banks that loan us the money to buy our properties.

Who do the banks protect? Themselves. When the house of cards collapses, what happens? No policy renewals. No new loans, the old loans called in, and anybody who can’t come up with cash to pay off their now unprotected loan is foreclosed.

Those who have no loans have a property that is at risk of complete loss if a fire happens; and fires do happen.

Figure it out. Pay a few bucks more for protection or a huge amount more for insurance or, if you can’t get insurance, you will end up with poor fire protection services and, finally, nothing.

But, why do we have to pay more? Because the current recession means fewer non-bank-owned properties, properties with lower values, less state funds for counties and firefighting, and less federal funds, etc.

Your new share of the firefighting budget just went up. This is felt in isolated fire-prone areas like ours long before it is felt in cities. (Fewer voters per cost of fire services.)

We need to protect our “fire” credit rating at almost all cost. If that means a few tens of dollars a month more, then we should plug the leak now before it becomes a gusher. Increasing IFPD budgets, extra parcel fees to the state, lobbying Congress to maintain USFS firefighting are very cost-effective ways to keep the insurance companies from charging much higher fees, if they will insure at all.

I’m not trying to scare anybody but the above may be the “good” scenario.

Norman Johnson
Costa Mesa & Idyllwild