While the Idyllwild Fire Protection District Commission deferred reviewing its financial position for fiscal 2015-16 at last week’s meeting, financial matters were the crux of the actions taken and discussed during the session.
Fire Chief Patrick Reitz asked the commission to approve a resolution authorizing the district to use funds from a Volunteer Fire Assistance program grant. The State portion of the matching grant is $7,735.
With the grant and district matching funds, handheld radios, fire pagers, and helmets (both for structure and wildland fires) will be purchased before the end of the fiscal year in June. The equipment will benefit all of the department’s firefighters, but primarily the volunteers and reserves.
Reitz also announced that the district’s costs, thus far, from helping with the fires raging in Northern California, have exceeded $250,000. While the reimbursement funding has not been received, he still expects much of it to arrive before the fiscal year ends, next June.
Also the district’s negotiating committee, composed of Commission President Jerry Buchanan, Commissioner Rhonda Andrewson and Chief Reitz, held a session with the career firefighters on Sept. 14 and also discussed strategy in a closed session at the end of the meeting.
“We’re continuing negotiation with the career firefighters and hope to rapidly bring it to fruition,” Buchanan said.
Finally, the commission discussed the possibility of establishing an ad hoc committee to formulate or plan district goals.
“Do we want a committee? Over the years, we have had goals for the chief, but not district goals,” Buchanan asked. “Perhaps we could use a community forum in the process?”
“I’m for it and volunteer,” said Andrewson. She added that the “ideas” should be run through the District’s finance committee, but she sees long-term and short-term goals, especially to raise more revenue.
In response, Buchanan asked her to draft a design or purpose for the committee and what it might do. Expecting a full commission attending the next meeting (Commissioners Nancy Layton and Jeannine Charles-Stigall were absent), he plans to continue discussion the topic in October.
Also there was a discussion of how the district might show its gratitude to the former paid-call firefighters. This unit was abolished several years ago. But over time nearly 80 community residents had been associated with the unit.
“The paid call go back a long way,” said Commissioner Larry Donahoo. “For those with more than 10 years involvement, they received a plaque, a fireman’s ax and thanks for their service.”
There were three to four members, whose service exceeded 75 to 85 years, when the unit was eliminated, according to Donahoo. Chief Reitz stressed that whatever form of recognition is chosen, district funds cannot be used for this purpose.
The commission also announced that “[it] has completed the annual evaluation of Chief Reitz. The evaluation was very positive and the board wishes to thank the chief for his continued service.”
The annual open house during fire prevention week is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 10 at the Idyllwild Fire Station, Reitz announced.