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A SAFE way to become involved in the community

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A SAFE way to become involved in the community

Manteca Fire Chief Kirk Waters with four Seniors Aiding Fire Effort (SAFE) volunteers.

Photo contributed/

POSTED January 28, 2012 1:34 a.m.

When Richard Silverman and his wife, Linda, moved to Manteca, he had many years under his belt as a police reserve in Concord where they lived.

But once they settled in Manteca, and as Linda quickly found her niche in the Manteca Garden Club, Richard hemmed and hawed a bit as to where he was going to pledge his time and talent this time.

“I was thinking about the SHARP (Seniors Helping Area Residents and Police) because I’ve heard about them,” Richard said. “But then I saw the article about SAFE (Seniors Assisting Fire Effort) in the Manteca Bulletin. They were just getting started.”

Since he didn’t “have a clue” about the workings of a fire department, Richard thought a SAFE involvement would be one way to learn something about this important service arm of the community.

Plus, he said, “it was something new” for him to do.

Later, he found out that SAFE is also fun.

“I really like working with the firemen. They’re really a good bunch of guys. I enjoy helping them in small ways that we can. (The fire department) is a good organization from the chief (Kirk Waters) down to the firefighters. I think we’re able to help them, and I think they also appreciate what we do,” said Richard who joined the volunteer group in February of 2007. His wife Linda got her foot wet in community volunteerism two years before that when she joined the Manteca Garden Club and later became the group’s president.

Through his involvement in the SAFE volunteer program, Richard learned that the “fire department is different from the police department.” One would probably think that since both deal with safety, they are of the same cloth.

“But they are really two different animals,” he said.

Perhaps the most unique thing about SAFE, Richard said, is that no minimum hours of volunteer work is required.

“You simply sign up what you want to sign up for,” he said.

The subject has been discussed, he said, “but we don’t have one at this point.”

SAFE also accepts both husband and wife even if one of them had not yet reached the age of 50 which is the minimum age requirement. There is one couple signed up at this time.

There are no formal training or classes required for would-be SAFE volunteers either. But, said Richard, “we encourage the members to get their CPR and First Aid training and a ham radio license, but they don’t have to.”

The city provides SAFE volunteers their uniforms; the SAFE program will do the provision, too.

SAFE has two cars at the volunteers’ disposal. The vehicles were donated by a trucking company.

The group is currently made up of about 25 members.

“We’re not firefighters,” Richard qualified. “We don’t do anything hazardous. We stay out of the way. We help (firefighters) out strictly with non-hazardous tasks. That’s our joke: if they ever need us to pull hoses, the city is in trouble.”

Origin of SAFE

The Manteca City Council OKd the formation of the Seniors Assisting Fire Effort on March 20, 2006. It’s classified as “a fire department auxiliary group.”

The city’s web site states that “Manteca’s SAFE program is affiliated with Fire Corps which is a nationwide partner program of the federal program known as Citizen Corps. These programs are designed to provide citizen advocates with a mechanism to support their local governments through a donation of time and talent.”

The web site also qualifies that SAFE is “not a Volunteer Firefighter program.” Activities in which SAFE volunteers can get involved include “accounting, clerical support, construction, engineering, fundraising, mechanical repairs, public affairs, grant writing, dispatch duties, computer support, building maintenance and public safety education.”

Anyone interested in becoming a part of SAFE can pick up an application at any Manteca Fire Station. You can also download an application on the city web site at

— Rose Albano Risso
city editor

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