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Citizens answer the call to learn about firefighting
Del Webb Director Bill Barnhard is all smiles after coming down from the aerial platform. - photo by HIME ROMERO
Garrett Graham stood steadfast in his Manteca Fire Department-issued turnouts as he awaited the next order.

One of several dozen members of the Citizens Fire Academy, Graham was enthused to be among the very men doing the job he hopes one day to hold.

“They weren’t taking any applications for the Explorer program, so I thought it would give me a good chance to see what the day-to-day activities of being a firefighter is like,” Graham said. “I’ve always wanted to do something that is physical labor, and with this you get the added perk of being able to help people. It’s exactly what I want to do.”

Friday’s one-day seminar – which ran from 8 a.m. until 2 p.m. – allowed citizens the opportunity to take a closer glimpse at what Manteca’s firefighters do when they’re sent out on calls.

Some got the opportunity to ride to the top of department’s new QUINT unit – which boasts a ladder that extends 100 feet high to enable firefighters to hopefully minimize damage on the large warehouse buildings that are being constructed right now.

And others – ranging in age from high school students to interested residents that wanted to know just a little bit more about how their department operated – got the chance to take a quick spin on one when they boarded Engine 243.

The Powers Avenue station where the activities took place served as the headquarters of the Manteca Fire Department until the newer Union Road station took its place.

“We basically just want to give people a glimpse of what it is that we do here on a daily basis, because a lot of people see us driving around and sometimes shopping and they don’t realize what goes into a single shift,” Firefighter Engineer and media contact Sterrie McLeod said. “There’s really a lot that goes into it from the gear to the rigs, and to get people a chance to take a closer look at some of the things we use is really a cool thing.”

After what he had seen – even before the first official lunch break – Graham said that being a firefighter is definitely a road he wants to take.

“Seeing this gives me something to shoot for, and I think I’m going to register at MJC (Modesto Junior College) so I can take the Firefighter Academy and the EMT certification at the same time,” he said. “This showed me what I needed to see.”