Idyllwild Fire went to 16 mutual aid fires in 2018

Local artist and sculptor Jan Jaspers-Fayer offered an artwork to the Idyllwild Fire Protection District and the Board of Commissioners accepted it.

The piece, a memorial sculpture of 9/11, is his design and made of steel plates. It is the numbers “9 and 11” in Roman numerals, Chief Patrick Reitz told the commission. He indicated that its likely permanent location is the patch of grass to the right of the station, near the intersection of Highway 243 and Maranatha Drive.

Commissioner Henry Sawicki reported that several citizens have approached him and expressed interest in leading the effort to gain approval of a new parcel-fee measure.

While this is preliminary, he said he intended to meet with Rebecca Spencer, the Riverside County registrar of voters. He will seek answers to several questions, such as the number of voter signatures needed for a citizen initiative, and other requirements.

Reitz stressed that if citizens wish to initiate a parcel measure, that is their right, but the district must not be involved in active support of that kind of action. But the district needs to pursue this effort independently unless a citizen group can formally undertake the effort.

The commission did discuss what steps might need money to complete, such as mailings and a voter survey. While no action was taken at this meeting, Commission President Rhonda Andrewson reminded her colleagues that work must proceed faster if a measure is to appear on a ballot in 2019, either in August or November.

In other business, the commission approved a resolution identifying three vehicles as surplus and to be disposed of. These include a pick-up truck, an ambulance and eventually, a utility vehicle.

“[The pick-up] has outlived its useful life and will cost too much to put on the road,” Reitz told the commission. “The same for [the ambulance], which is basically a parts vehicle for ambulance 625.”

The district will retain the utility vehicle, since it is used to plow snow off the station’s parking areas. Once a replacement is acquired, this vehicle will be disposed of too, Reitz added.

The commission reviewed several policies, such as committees, training and minutes of board meetings. The latter was the only one of five policies deferred until the December meeting.

In financial business, after the first four months of fiscal year 2018-19, expenses are still ahead of the actual revenues. This is routine until the IFPD begins to receive its property tax revenue in December and January.

Also, the costs, such as salaries and fuel, to respond to requests for mutual aid on fires outside the district, have to be paid. Currently, IFPD requests reimbursement for them but it can take several months before payment is received.

While the formal financial statements show that the expenses are about $52,000 more than revenue, much of the revenue is simply accruals, such as reimbursement requests or medical-aid costs, which have not yet been paid.

Assistant Chief Mark LaMont provided the commission with a status report on the mutual-aid missions to which IFPD responded this fire season. Since the end of June, IFPD has sent firefighters to 16 incidents.

The total cost is slightly more than half a million dollars, of which only $40,000 has been recouped through November, La Mont reported. The total time at these fires is about 14,500 hours for all of the staff, who have gone.

Besides the local fires — Cranston and Holy —, IFPD firefighters have helped on the Ferguson (97,000 acres), Woolsey (97,000 acres) and Donnell (36,000) fires.