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Manteca ‘netted’ $30K in 2012 by helping state battle wildfires

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POSTED August 29, 2013 9:54 a.m.

Wildfires are a good thing for the City of Manteca’s bottom line.
Manteca in 2012 “netted” $30,000 after all salaries and expenses related to the dispatch of strike teams to wildfires up and down California are paid.
“Last year wasn’t a big year for fires,” Fire Chief Kirk Waters said. “We’ve earned as much as $100,000 in some years from the state for mutual aid.”
The cost of battling the Rim Fire has soared past $33 million with 4,500 firefighters tracking the inferno that has scorched more than 301 square miles. That’s the equivalent area of the combined cities of San Francisco, San Jose, and Oakland.
Manteca technically doesn’t profit off of the mutual aid.
The state makes sure various departments participating in mutual aid agreements with them are kept whole.
They pay firefighters from outside agencies that work wildfires based on their individual department’s salary schedule including overtime. They also cover the cost of replacement firefighters to provide coverage for participating cities and fire districts. Typically that is figured as overtime but if the assigned crews aren’t on OT the city gets to keep the funds.
Agencies also receive administrative fees to cover their costs for participating plus fees for the use of local fire engines. The city doesn’t receive payment for using the state-issued Office of Emergency Services engine. They do, however, get to utilize the OES engine when it isn’t being dispatched to wildfires for use as a back-up engine.
Waters noted most fire departments typically use the “excess” state reimbursement to go toward capital equipment such as the purchase of new fire engines. In Manteca, the money in excess of salaries for firefighters is put in the city’s general fund to help pay for day-to-day services such as public safety, parks, and streets.
Waters said that Manteca’s fire protection isn’t being harmed by the commitment of eight full-time firefighters to the raging Rim Fire.
The city only sends personnel that it can without jeopardizing municipal fire protection.

To contact Dennis Wyatt, e-mail dwyatt@mantecabulletin.com

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