The Idyllwild Fire Commissioners re-elected Jeannine Charles-Stigall as president, Dr. Charles “Chip” Schelly as vice president and Jerry Buchanan as secretary of the commission. Fire Chief Patrick Reitz was appointed to be clerk of the board.

Stigall was initially chosen commission president in January 2010, but she resigned for health reasons the following November. But a year later, November 2011, she was chosen as interim president until the next meeting when the new commissioners were seated. At the December 2011 meeting, she was elected to a full one-year term to lead the fire district.

At the same meeting, Schelly was elected as the commission vice president and Buchanan as commission secretary.

The commission devoted considerable time to discussions of future projects.


As the result of Robert McCullough’s resignation as manager of WNKI, Idyllwild’s emergency radio station (1610 AM), Chief Reitz reported that he and William Tell, president of the Mile High Radio Club, and officers of RACES (Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service), were discussing the station’s future management.

The fire department has been soliciting public comments about when and how the station is used. “Everybody who has called wants WNKI to stay and they want it to serve in emergency conditions. It is not listened to for any other reason,” Reitz reported.

“We’re talking about who is best suited to handle WNKI,” Reitz said. “It is not just the broadcasting, but equipment, too.” Commissioner Pete Capparelli recommended RACES as “an obvious organization to take over management.”

Tell, who attended the meeting, said the communication organization was studying the issue and would discuss it at their January meeting.

Reitz also indicated Caltrans would be contacted about restoring the highway signs advising motorists to use the station during emergencies.

The station’s Federal Communications Commission license is registered to IFPD, Reitz said. Currently, Rick Foster is managing the station for IFPD.

Rapid Rescue

Commissioner Schelly also requested that a future agenda include establishment of a rapid retrieval rescue unit to complement the Riverside Mountain Rescue Unit.

“We have people and equipment who could access injured people just outside our jurisdiction,” he said when suggesting the department consider a pilot project.

Since RMRU is not deployed until the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department dispatches the unit, Schelly felt IFPD could arrive at the scene sooner and make an initial assessment, which would aid the decision to dispatch RMRU.

“It’s something we do quite well — patient care,” he said.

While Schelly was urging the IFPD unit to employ volunteers and reserves, Reitz said the department already has this capability within its career staff. He said the problem of deploying them results because of the lack of backup staff.

“What you’re taking about we can do, but not to the best of our ability because of budget,” he replied. “It’s where we’re taking the department long-term.” He will examine the issue and the commission will discuss it further at a future meeting.

In other business, the commission approved a new contract with Complete Billing and Data Management, the existing contractor, for filing of medical billings. The new rate will be 14 percent of billings.

The second December meeting, which would have been Christmas Day, was canceled and the next commission meeting will be January 8.

The Idyllwild Fire Commission’s 2013 officers are (from left) Vice President Dr. Charles “Chip” Schelly, President Jeannine Charles-Stigall and Secretary Jerry Buchanan. Photo by J.P. Crumrine