Manteca is beefing up its fire department with six new recruits this week thanks to a $1.3 million federal SAFER grant that will cover their salaries for the next two years.
John Viss, 34, joins the department after seven years with the state’s Cal-Fire operation that put him on the front lines of forest fires while he was also on the reserve force for Ripon and Manteca departments.
Viss is a two year graduate in Fire Science from the Orange Coast College in Southern California with the other five firefighters having junior college certificates from colleges around the region. Viss said he learned to love the Manteca Fire Department as a reserve and vowed to return as a regular firefighter when he completed his Fire Science education.
Viss said it was mostly the brotherhood he found in the Manteca stations — the camaraderie that is continually felt within the ranks.
“The firefighters are second to none and it just feels like family here in Manteca,” he said.
On Friday they were finishing up their orientation out on the streets under the direction of on-duty firefighters from the laying of hose from a hydrant to the stabilizing of vehicles that had “crashed” in a simulated traffic accident using the city’s old corporation yard for the scene of the collision.
The men said collectively that they are very grateful to the City of Manteca and the fire department for adding them to their ranks.
Chase Keener, 25, of Escalon became a reserve firefighter for departments in Farmington and Ripon for two years.
Jerry Garcia, 28, of Modesto, has been a reserve firefighter for the Stanislaus Consolidated Fire Protection District for the last two years as well.
Daniel Sawyer, 26, of Escalon has worked as a reserve for Cal-Fire for the past seven years with many assignments in the fire plagued hills in the north state
Kenton Shipherd, 21, of Ripon joined the Explorer ranks when he turned 16 in Manteca and joined the department as a reserve when he turned 19.
Brett Jones, 29, of Manteca worked for Manteca District Ambulance for 10 years before becoming a firefighter, working side-by-side when both departments were on medical calls together as a team of first responders.