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SAFE helps keep fire department ready for emergencies

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SAFE helps keep fire department ready for emergencies

The Manteca Fire Department welcomed its newest SAFE member, Janice Whitfield, at a badge ceremony. Fire Chief Kirk Waters performed the swearing in at the monthly SAFE Meeting. In addition to vo...

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POSTED March 30, 2010 1:54 a.m.
Volunteers are helping stretch the effectiveness of the Manteca Fire Department by doing re-inspection of various businesses where safety concerns and possible fire hazards were previously noted by full-time trained personnel.

Manteca Fire Chief Kirk Waters said it is just one more way that the Seniors Aiding Fire Effort (SAFE) volunteers play a key role in making sure fire prevention and other activities take place in the face of the reorganization to stay within the municipal budget as well as to step in when front-line personnel need to leave a non-emergency task to respond to a fire or a medical call.

“They (the volunteers) make a big difference,” Waters said.

None of the SAFE efforts may be more critical, though, than freeing up engine companies from some of their activities that have to be performed away from the stations where they are headquartered.

The reason for that is simple. Each Manteca station was located to maximize the number of homes and businesses within the critical five-minute response time before fires get out of hand and people with stopped hearts start suffering brain damage or death.

To that end, SAFE volunteers do follow up inspections to the more than 2,000 weed abatement citations issued each year.  It allows engine companies to be more response ready and gives firefighters more to do training.

They have made it possible to take some of the pressure off crews so they don’t cut into critical training time to stay as sharp as possible for emergencies.

Those interested need to be at least 50 years of age and set aside up to 40 hours every three months to volunteer. Applications are available at fire stations or by calling 456-8300.

All the duties are non-hazardous.

One especially effective and critical time-saving effort is simply watching equipment left out during training around the community when an engine has to respond to an emergency. Prior to the SAFE volunteers, firefighters had to throw equipment on engines quickly before they left for the emergency which cut into critical response time.

SAFE volunteers can ride on engines. They can also go to emergencies where they will help direct traffic before police arrive. They change out empty SCBA bottles used by firefighters and supply water to crews.

They pick up medical equipment at hospitals such as department backboards taken with the patient when they are transported by ambulance.

They help with public demos, do office work, pick up engine parts, deliver supplies, and several have become certified CPR trainers.

They will also assist with the fire safety education trailer at schools.

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