I have had an opportunity to read the political ads supporting Cal Fire, the letters regarding the Idyllwild Fire Protection District problems and while I am somewhat out of place here, I felt it important to maybe help with a little different perspective.
First, the California Department of Forestry, or Cal Fire as it is now called, has for at least the 35 years that I have had the pleasure of working with the rank and file, demonstrated that it is one of America’s finest. However, most of the abilities are in fire suppression of wildland and timber.
Idyllwild and the surrounding territory are the responsibility of the U.S. Forest Service. Yes, Cal Fire participates under mutual aid and there is some SRA (state-regulated Area) land, but the lead agency could not and will probably never be Cal Fire.
It is true that Cal Fire personnel are well trained and are just plain good firefighters, but they are not any faster than any others and do not use the “immediate need closest resource” concept except as it applies to themselves.
Cal Fire is an agency of California government which is anything but fiscally responsible. Riverside County in 2012 paid Cal Fire about $135 million for fire protection not including the stations, engines or apparatus. Is there anyone not aware of the $150 new tax per dwelling supposedly for Cal Fire? The state of California using Cal Fire will be able to tax you at will.
Clear and accountable lines between administrations and unions — not true. California is not a right-to-work state. Cal Fire only exists because of the union.
Reduce taxes? It’s a government agency. When have you ever seen this state’s government reduce taxes?
You have local control. If you give that up you will never get it back without incorporation. If you think the county of Riverside will help, you are mistaken. This county government is just as beholden apparently to the union as the legislature is.
And by the way, you can kiss your volunteers goodbye. The Cal Fire union doesn’t want your help. Remember in 2011, this union was able to destroy the entire volunteer firefighter program from Riverside County and the Board of Supervisors went right along with it.
Your community is best served like any community by the people who live there, not the government of California.
Michael J. Machado