The Mountain Emergency Service Committee (MEMSCOMM) met briefly last week to hear progress of the shake-shingle roof replacement project from Pat Boss and Don Patterson, project managers for the Mountain Communities Fire Safe Council.

To date, 14 roofs have had the wooden shingles removed and replaced with fire-safe shingles. Another 47 projects are soon to be started. FSC has an inventory of 122 roofs to work on.

“We’re hoping to get a second grant and expand the number,” Boss said. The funds are from a Federal Emergency Agency grant the state manages. FSC received $870,000 for the program. “Just replacing the roof improves the structure’s safety 50 percent,” said Edwina Scott, FSC executive director.

In response to a question about whether the funds are limited to private residences, Boss said several commercial properties and camps would receive new roofing during the project.

FSC allots $8,400 per project, which normally takes a week to complete. After the work is completed and certified, the owner receives reimbursement for up to 75 percent of the cost, with a maximum of $6,300. For projects such as larger-than-average roofs in excess of $8,400, the owner is responsible for the difference. Some have approached the $10,000 to $12,000 range.

Occasionally, the owner has taken advantage of the roof work to install a skylight, which also increases the cost, Boss said.

In preparing the grant application, which required several years before its final approval this fall, FSC members drove through town identifying shake roofs. They then encouraged the owners to submit an application.

“About 90 percent of them applied,” said FSC President Mike Esnard.

In the absence of Gina Moran-McGough, the emergency services coordinator who normally chairs the meeting, Emergency Services Coordinator Diana Rockot  announced that the memorandum of agreement between Idyllwild Fire Protection District and the Mile High Radio Club for operations of the emergency radio station WNKI will be discussed at the December meeting.

The Federal Communication Commission license belongs to IFPD. Fire Chief Patrick Reitz acknowledged that the department is working with MHRC to “bring in some technical experts.” He also is working with Cal Trans to re-install highway signs that alerted drivers in the San Jacinto mountains that 1610 AM, WNKI, is available during emergencies.

“We used it for the Mountain and Silver fires, or whenever residents seem to get anxious,” Reitz said.