The Idyllwild Fire Protection District (IFPD) board of commissioners meeting was held on June 30. All commissioners were present, either physically or via Zoom.  

Former IFPD Commissioner Larry Donahoo resigned for personal reasons effective at the end of the May board meeting. The IFPD board named Donahoo’s replacement after reviewing resumes from candidates that were received by June 25. However, just one person applied, Dan Messina. The board unanimously approved his appointment. 

Idyllwild Fire Protection District flew Old Glory at Highway 243 and North Circle Drive over the Fourth of July weekend.  Photo by Jenny Kirchner

Messina has lived in Idyllwild for 19 years and owns Messina Construction Co. He also worked as a volunteer firefighter and engineer for Cal Fire/Riverside County Fire Department in Garner Valley from 2003 to 2011. “When the county abolished their volunteer program in 2011, I worked with then-Idyllwild Fire Chief Norm Walker and [then] Fire Capt. Mark LaMont to introduce an opportunity to form what is now known as the Idyllwild Volunteer Fire Company 621. I served as the Idyllwild Volunteer Fire Company president from 2011 to 2016 and due to scheduling and business priorities, I took a leave of absence in 2017.”  

Messina wrote that he is an “advocate of local jurisdictions electing their own governing bodies and setting levels of service that they (we) feel are needed and required. It has been my observation that other ‘one size fits all’ fire and EMS agencies cannot, will not and do not have the desire nor capacity to mold their service models into the best fit for the residents of a given community.” 

Messina began his goals with “My priority in becoming an IFPD Fire Commissioner is to ensure that residents like myself continue to receive professional, effective, efficient and locally controlled fire and EMS services.” 

According to Chief Mark LaMont in his report, the first round of property abatement inspections were completed, with 713 properties failing. The second round of inspections were completed on June 5 resulting in 340 failed properties. The department is finalizing the third inspections this week. Property owners who fail the third round of inspection can expect a $500 citation and a notice of forced abatement. 

During the meeting it was stated that about half of the failed properties usually have to do with address signs. 

After the district received several calls regarding credit card payment processing for ambulance transportation, fines, etc., the district contacted local entities to do some research to potentially offer this as a payment option to customers. The board approved accepting credit card payments and all costs associated will be wrapped into the utilization, so the department does not absorb any costs associated. Payments will be able to be accepted online (in the future) and in the district’s office. 

The emergency siren alert system is moving along. LaMont filled out the final Community Development Block Grant (through the county) application, and has not received final approval, but is being told that the district could receive $10,000. Fern Valley Water District has allocated up to $30,000 in its FY 2020/21 approved budget. IFPD allocated up to $15,000 in its FY 2020/21 approved budget. The Idyllwild Water District will be discussing the siren alert system at its July board meeting.  

LaMont is looking for more companies to bid on the system to get the lowest price possible and admitted that it has been a challenge getting bids due to the small size of the contract, saying only three out of five vendors called him back, and after hearing it was just one siren, he didn’t hear back from the third.