Robert Hewitt. Photo by J.P. Crumrine
Editor’s note: Robert Hewitt is the newest member of the County Service Area 38 (Pine Cove) Advisory Committee. Third District Supervisor Jeff Stone recommended his appointment, which the full board approved at its Jan. 24 meeting. Hewitt is a Los Angeles County Fire Department Battalion Chief. He and his wife, Janice Murasko, have a home in Pine Cove. This interview occurred on Friday, Feb. 17.

Chief Hewitt was born and raised in Southern California. Within two weeks of his graduation from Duarte High School in Los Angeles County, near the San Gabriel Mountains, Hewitt was on the Oak Grove Hot Shots team.

That was the first step in his career goal of becoming a firefighter. From the age of 5 or 6, Hewitt knew that is what he wanted to become.

At 12, he wrote the Los Angeles County Fire Chief and asked why civilians were allowed to “ride along” with Sheriff’s deputies, but not permitted to ride in fire engines. By 13, he was a member of the firefighters Explorer group.

From the Forest Service, he joined the Los Angeles County flight team, similar to a Forest Service helitack unit. In the past 30 years he has risen through the ranks to become Battalion Chief in the San Gabriel Valley.

He and his wife Janice, met in Temple City after she called inquiring about finding community service for local high school students. Hewitt recommended the Explorer program, one that had served him well years before.

Why serve on CSA 38?
Hiking, camping and mountaineering have been important parts of the Hewitt’s life. When a coastal road trip had to be canceled because of fires, Hewitt said Janice found Idyllwild from an online search for alternative trips.

After several more trips to the Hill, they decided to purchase a house for their eventual retirement.

“We live in Pine Cove now,” Hewitt said. “I’ve always been part of and involved in my community.” He is anticipating working on local issues and making a contribution based on his experience.

Hewitt made the point that when one has made hundreds of critical decisions that affect human lives, then decisions which afford time to analyze don’t have to be made emotionally.

Hewitt wants to be sure that the CSA Advisory Committee and the community have the appropriate information to guide themselves today and in the future. His professional experience negotiating contracts and involvement in many community and multi-agency projects will be an asset for the committee.

Medical service & cost
Hewitt began by emphasizing that he does not know the best way to go yet. “I want to learn more about the options,” he said. “But it’s good to be competitive in any provision of public service.”

He is looking forward to his initial assignment to work with CSA 38 colleague Marge Muir on upcoming negotiations with Riverside County and Idyllwild Fire Protection District on renewal of the emergency medical service contract. Hewitt said he had a lot of questions about the service and contract. The answers will help him make a recommendation to the community.

Boundary & taxes
The Feb. 8 Advisory meeting was Hewitt’s introduction to this issue. He anticipates the CSA committee will pursue the investigation and find a satisfactory solution. He then added that the committee needs to be comfortable with the data.

Station 23 equipment
Increasing the number of personnel or volunteers at Station 23 is a goal Hewitt would like to see achieved. He feels his experience gives him a unique opportunity to evaluate the quality of equipment for volunteers and their needs.

He’s willing to support buying a fire engine if it’s sufficiently studied.

“The reserve program is very positive for Pine Cove,” he opined. “Maybe more people can be available with less time to report will be better for the public and local firefighters.”