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Lathrop-Manteca adds electric cart to its fire fleet

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POSTED August 18, 2017 1:23 a.m.

The Lathrop-Manteca Fire District has plenty of pieces of apparatus to help them respond to any emergency they might come across.
Water tenders, fire engines, a ladder truck, a rescue unit and a swift water boat.
And possibly soon an electric cart.
As a part of the Public Benefits Grant program through the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District the agency has applied for and is in the process of securing a grant that will pay for a fully electric off-road utility vehicle – similar to an all-wheel drive side-by-side referred to as a utility terrain vehicle – that will bolster an already deep list of apparatus to serve a sprawling district that has a distinct layout that includes a major fertilizer plant, dozens of manufacturing warehouses, a major river and a railyard.
According to Battalion Chief Larry Madoski, when the district was running through a needs assessment based on the flood scenario earlier this year, administrators identified a possible use for the vehicle that was available under a public grant program. They began taking a closer look at the ways that it could serve the district’s mission to protect the residents of Lathrop, rural Manteca and the outskirts of both communities.
One way in which the new vehicle, which will have seating for four people and allow responding units to get into places that traditional fire response units cannot access, will provide new opportunities for serving the public, according to Madoski, is when staffing populated events at places like Dell’Osso Farms.
Because of the tight confines and configuration of the grounds, emergency units that need to respond to certain locations within – like the corn maze for example, or in the middle of a large crowd of people during a big event like Baconfest – are limited by the size of the traditional engines that carry crews to the scene.
In addition to having more maneuverability, the new vehicle is also completely electric which eliminates exhaust concerns when around large groups of people and adds a rugged access unit that can reach people in rural places – like on the inside of levees, or down along the banks of the San Joaquin River in certain stretches – that are a struggle for large pieces of equipment.
Earlier this year when fire crews were tasked with patrolling levees amidst flood fears, because of the weight on the engines and the stress they put on the levees themselves alternative arrangements – from smaller vehicles to foot patrols – had to be made.
While the procurement of the vehicle appears to be secure, a preliminary date has not yet been set for when the new unit would be put into service.
“The San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District has been a great partner throughout this process, but pinning down a date on something that has so many moving pieces is extremely difficult at this point,” Madoski said. “We’re hoping to streamline the process, but it is something that takes time.”
The district has already solicited bids from companies capable of providing such a unit, and because the grant is fully funded its arrival won’t affect the district’s operating budget or its financial outlay short of routine maintenance needed for the vehicle itself.
By utilizing funding sources outside of traditional means, and by reserving the money from the City of Lathrop’s one-cent sales tax increase – 40 percent of which goes to the district – for expenses that are absolutely necessary, Madoski said that this undertaking is an example of how the district strives to be good stewards of public money wherever possible.
“We are very in-tune to looking at alternative funding processes that lighten the load for the taxpayer,” Madoski said. “We strive to utilize taxpayer resources for the most efficient way possible, and using the grant process is another example of many things that we have already done.”

To contact reporter Jason Campbell email or call 209.249.3544.

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