From left, Idyllwild Fire commissioners Christina Reitz, Rhonda Andrewson and Dennis Fogle, Mile High Radio Club President Bill Tell, Idyllwild Fire President Henry Sawicki, MHRC member Tom Pierce, Commissioner Dan Messina, and Chief Mark LaMont at the Idyllwild Fire Protection District commissioners’ meeting Tuesday afternoon, Aug. 24. Tell paid a special tribute to the late Bill Baker, a devoted MHRC member and multiple-times president, and WNKI emergency radio station volunteer. Baker died Nov. 11, 2020. On behalf of his and his late wife Aileen’s daughter and granddaughter, Tell makes a donation for equipment from the Bakers’ family trust. Photo courtesy Idyllwild Fire

The Idyllwild Fire Protection District Board of Commissioners discussed the new ambulance, the siren and possibly more sirens, and heard a tribute to Bill Baker at its Tuesday, Aug. 24, meeting.
President Henry Sawicki and his wife Karen went off the Hill recently to bring back the new ambulance. Chief Mark LaMont was grateful as he said his staff has been busy. The ambulance from Arrow Ambulance cost $171,000.
In the chief’s report he wrote, “Numerous IFPD employees have received both COVID vaccination shots.” When asked about why “numerous” and not “all” because they are in the medical field, he said some people believe it’s their constitutional right to not get vaccinated.
He added that since the federal government and other agencies are looking at requiring vaccinations for employees, IFPD may consider that, too, in the future.
In his report, when the first property abatement in

spection ended May 15, 551 properties failed inspection. Second inspections were completed June 15. Final inspections were finished July 10 with 145 properties out of compliance.
“Citations have been issued for those properties which have not come into full compliance,” LaMont wrote. “We have been working closely with property owners to help them come into compliance.
“We will continue with the forced abatement work on failed properties and anticipate having 6-10 of these completed prior to year-end 2021.”
In the discussion of the emergency-warning siren, LaMont said the test’s length had been 10 seconds but has been increased to a full minute “due to the time the siren takes to reach full potential. An actual emergency will be denoted by three separate blasts of the siren for three (3) minutes each,” he said in his report.
The monthly tests are at 1 p.m. the third Saturday of the month.
LaMont told the board that a chest pain patient in the station prevented IFPD from activating the siren one time.
Commissioners discussed how well the siren can be heard throughout the communities because of the valleys and mountains. Some people cannot hear it at all and some in Pine Cove can hear it.
Sawicki said they need to explore other agencies, including Riverside County, contributing to other sirens throughout the community.
He asked LaMont to explore how much it would cost so they could put it to the community to add the sirens, possibly at Idyllwild Arts, in Fern Valley and/or in Pine Cove.
Commissioner Rhonda Andrewson said the siren is not for Idyllwild Fire’s benefit but for the community’s. Therefore, she felt the community could raise funds for other agencies to install more sirens.
Sawicki, having retired from the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department, felt “law enforcement should be involved.”
LaMont will study the issue. “I think we’re on the right path,” said Sawicki.
Employees assisted with 26 mutual aids in fiscal year 2020-21. Total billing was $1,200,217 with $999,608 thus received.
They assisted with eight mutual fire incidents in this FY and billing is already at $1,029,688.
Total number of incidents IFPD responded to was 91 with 60 being medical and 14 public service. Fires numbered seven. Ambulance transports numbered 35.