The loss of three firefighters since July 1 due to budget constraints is forcing the Manteca Fire Department to take an engine company out of service 50 percent of the time.
The three positions were eliminated by simply not filling vacancies when personnel retired during the past six months.
That has forced the department to sideline the 100-foot aerial platform truck for roughly one out of every two 24-hour shifts. Should the platform truck’s capabilities be needed for a major fire, department personnel can retrieve it from the Union Road station where it is housed with another engine company.
“Staffing continues to be real tight,” noted Fore Chief Kirk Waters.
Waters pointed out those emergencies are up 15 percent from last year. That runs the gamut from fires to vehicle accidents and medical emergencies.
“Thankfully we have had more staffing on the days of our biggest fires,” Waters said. “Other than that we are doing the very best we can to serve our citizens with the limited resources we have just as the other city departments are doing. We are all in this together.”
The loss of the firefighters forces taking the aerial platform engine out of front-line response periodically. That leaves Manteca with three engine companies to serve the city - the same number that was in place just 2 ½ years ago. The addition of the fourth engine company was designed to build up staffing for when a fourth station opens on Lathrop Road just south of Del Webb at Woodbridge. Up until earlier this year, it had helped improve the percentage of calls Manteca firefighters arrive at within the targeted five minute response time.
It takes 12 firefighters to man an engine 24/7 with three per shift. Whenever staffing is less than three due to vacation or illness, the remaining firefighter(s) assigned to the aerial truck are dispersed to the three remaining engine companies and the rescue squad.