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Burning issues for Manteca Fire Dept.
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Manteca almost had a new fire chief.

On the same day City Manager Elena Reyes was put on ice while investigations are conducted into personnel issues, she was reportedly ready to make a decision on a permanent replacement for retired Fire Chief Kirk Waters. 

At last Tuesday’s council meeting, Councilman Richard Silverman brought up two fire-related issues: The status of efforts to build the city’s fourth fire station at Atherton Drive and Woodward Avenue that has a price tag of $2.6 million and the impact of having enough firefighters to staff the rescue unit in a bid to reduce response times to southeast Manteca where the station is proposed.

Both questions stem from 1,300 existing homes in southwest Manteca being outside of the critical five-minute response time for firefighters to  reach medical emergencies or fires in order for the most optimum outcome. At the same time the same area has another 1,430 homes being fast-tracked by developers.

Toss in the fact the closest station on Powers Avenue has to deal with possible delays posed by the need to cross railroad tracks and the city’s delay of resolving the issue has the potential of being more serious than anything than the hole in service coverage that existed for the years that it took to get the Lathrop Road station opened in northwest Manteca.

Silverman unsuccessfully tried to convince his fellow council members in June to include $222,000 in the upcoming municipal budget for the fiscal year starting on July 1 to make sure shortfalls in staffing a 2-man rescue quad to serve southeast Manteca — the fastest growing area in the city — can be eliminated.

Arriving on scene within five minutes of a call being dispatched is essential for the best possible survival rate for heart and stroke victims as well as to attack fires before they flashover.

Citywide, Manteca fire engines are now arriving at emergency calls within five minutes 82 percent of the time. But when it comes to the 1,300 homes south of Woodward Avenue and east of Main Street, fire crews arrive on scene within five minutes less than 10 percent of the time.

The $222,000 would have allowed the department to maintain minimum staffing of 14 firefighters — three each at the four fire stations and two assigned to the rescue squad.

The 24/7 staffing of a two-man rescue squad  is an effective way to chip away at response times since roughly 90 percent of all calls handled by Manteca Fire in a typical year are medical emergencies.

It is the same strategy the city used to open the Lathrop Road station by Del Webb at Woodbridge. Last year the city was able to fund the nine firefighters needed o staff a three-man engine 24/7.

The City Council in February approved spending $149,195 to have RPM Design Group provide 30 percent of the design work needed for the new station.

The city already owns the land as it was given to Manteca by Atherton Homes nearly 15 years ago.

The new station will cost $2.6 million and would be a scaled down version of the Lathrop Road station. It will be designed to blend in with residential housing and will have low-water use landscaping.

The city council has yet to identify funding to cover the construction tab.

Reyes’ placement on paid personal leave has also put a halt to the search for a new police chief.


Doing the same

study again

for $12,877

Why does government cost so much?

It doesn’t take too much dogging to find the answer.

The Manteca City Council last week hired Mark Thomas & Company for $12,877 to conduct an Archeological Survey Report and Historical Resources Evaluation for the converged diamond interchange project advancing at Union Road and the 120 Bypass.

This is a state requirement for all road projects Sacramento is involved with. The mandate stems from Section 106 of the national Historic Preservation Act of 1966, Section 4(f) of the California Department of Transportation Act of 1966, and the California Environmental Quality Act of 1970 that references the California Historical Resource Status Codes.

It’s a requirement you can’t get around.

But here’s the rub: Major work was done on the interchange in the mid-1990s when on and off ramps were added at the same time the 120 Bypass was widen to four-lane freeway status. Given the fact that a converging diamond design is within the existing state right of way as opposed to the originally favored cloverleaf design that would have taken out some nearby private property there is no new land being disturbed. Unless, that is, the trees within the interchange’s layout qualify as historical landmarks or points of archaeological interest.

The bottom line is such a study was legally required to be conducted 20 or so years ago on the same land in question today so why do it again?

Of course, if Manteca were to raise the issue it would create delays costing far more than $12,877.


Volunteers sought

for Public Safety

Sales Tax oversight

Serving on the Public Safety Sales Tax Oversight Committee for the City of Manteca doesn’t seem glamorous but consider this: It is the responsibility of the five-member citizens’ panel to make sure the half cent sales tax collected to cover the expense of 15 police officers and 15 firefighters is properly spent.

It is one of the few standing municipal panels that the city has in place.

As a side note, Richard Silverman and Mike Morowit stepped up to the City Council in the 2014 election after serving on the oversight committee.

The city is now looking for applicants to fill a three year-term for the group that meets semi-annually.

The deadline to submit application is Monday, Jan. 9, at 5 p.m.

For details contact City Clerk Lisa Blackmon at either or call 209.456.8017.