Are the citizens of Idyllwild willing to stay silent while a handful of Pine Cove residents and this newspaper does everything in their power to replace our own Idyllwild Fire Protection District with Cal Fire? I would hope not, but it sure seems that way.

These aforementioned people, for reasons known only to them, are determined to destroy the fire department that has served us since 1946.

One would think that since they are already served by Cal Fire they would be content, but no, they are also served by our ambulances, and, oh my gosh, the service is terrible. They dream up one more bogus problem after another, like saying the IFPD ambulance service has the worst on-time record in the county, when, in fact, it has the best — a 98.2-percent record of responding within the allotted time.

If people get their wish and start being served by American Medical Response instead of IFPD they’ll see what waiting forever for an ambulance while you’re having a heart attack or a stroke is like.

And as for Riverside County Fire Department supplying an ambulance, consider the fact that when asked how much that would cost, RFCD Fire Chief John Hawkins, along with several top level assistants, agreed it would cost about $900,000 per year. That was at a meeting the grand jury asked IFPD to have with RCFD several years ago.

It’s difficult to determine the cost for one RCFD fire engine and three firefighters because RCFD doesn’t have budgets for each of its 23 fire stations. Most of them consist of one RCFD fire engine and three firefighters at an estimated cost of $1,500,000 a year. Compare that to the $1,800,000 IFPD costs us, which includes three ambulances.

Remember that when you hire a RCFD/Cal Fire firefighter, you’re paying for what it costs the department to supply that one firefighter, which includes a small share of the cost for every administrator from the chief on down, all of the support staff, the cost of equipment, etc. plus 11 percent of the total to cover state-level administrative and training costs. An example of how this works is how much it would cost us if we were a city and contracted with the sheriff for law enforcement services — about $65 per hour per deputy.

So, good citizens of Idyllwild, take charge of your future. Don’t leave it to the Pine Cove malcontents.

Ben Killingsworth

Editor’s note: For the record, the Town Crier has never advocated replacing Idyllwild Fire Protection District with Cal Fire.