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Manteca seeks federal help to remodel fire station

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POSTED July 6, 2009 2:37 a.m.
Federal stimulus funds could make it possible for Manteca to reduce response time to 2,500 households in the northwest portion of the city.

Manteca is applying for a piece of the local portion of President Obama’s economic recovery funding to remodel the former Carpenter’s Union Hall at 1180 North Union Road that was purchased 17 months ago for eventual convertion into a fire station.

The location is adjacent to the Union Road/Louise Avenue intersection.

The federal stimulus grant requires a ready-to-go-project in order to qualify for funding.

Drawings have been devised for remodeling and making sure the building is structurally sound enough to be converted into a fire station. California law requires emergency facilities to be able to withstand a major earthquake. The building originally was built as medical offices.

If Manteca proceeds, the plan is to close the existing Louise Avenue fire station in a strategy that is designed to increase coverage while at the same time reduce the cost to taxpayers.

It would bring more than 2,500 homes in northwest Manteca under the targeted five-minute response time without building a station proposed years ago on West Louise Avenue across from the Manteca Unified School District office.

It also would avoid creating an overlap with mutual response from existing Lathrop-Manteca Fire District stations in west Manteca.

It eliminates the need for the foreseeable future for a fire station on North Union Road near Del Webb at Woodbridge.

It also allows the city to build a fourth fire station at Woodward Avenue and Atherton Drive on land that was set aside by a developer.

Shifting the existing Louise Avenue station personnel to the Union Road site eliminates the need to staff a newer station farther to the west on Louise. In doing so, that frees up the half cent sales tax revenue committed to staff another station to man the Woodward Avenue location.

Such a plan would put virtually the entire built-up portions of the city under a five-minute response time and provide coverage for the 850-acre Austin Road Business Park as well.

It would also eliminate the serious concern of railroad traffic delaying response time from the Powers Avenue station to the southeast part of Manteca.

Five minute response time for emergency equipment is a mantra for those who make a living putting out fires and responding to heart attacks for two reasons:

•The chance of surviving a heart attack or major trauma starts dropping off rapidly after five minutes.

•“Flash over” when fires literally erupt occur within five minutes of the first visible flame.

Those are the reasons why five-minute response times were built into the city’s general plan governing the placement of fire stations.

It sounds like a lot of time, but it really isn’t. The first two and a half minutes are consumed by a call being placed, equipment dispatching and the engine actually rolling out of a fire station.

That leaves 180 seconds for firefighters to reach a structure fire or a major medical emergency.

Every turn or delay getting through traffic eats up valuable seconds.

Even with a system that allows the closest unit of a combined Manteca City Fire Department and Lathrop Manteca Fire District respond, there are still areas within Manteca that are outside the targeted five minute response time. They include parts of Chadwick Square and Primavera neighborhoods n northwest Manteca.

Five minute response time was the driving argument in the 1990s to relocate the Center Street fire station to Union Road just north of the Highway 120 Bypass. That brought more than 1,000 homes near Sierra High within the five-minute response umbrella.
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