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Full Manteca Fire staffing
Additional rescue coverage possible for Woodward area
 FIRE STATION1 7-20-15
Mantecas fourth fire station on Lathrop Road near Del Webb will be fully staffed in the coming months. - photo by HIME ROMERO/The Bulletin

Manteca will soon be able to provide full coverage 24/7 at the fire station on Lathrop Road nestled against the Del Webb community.

At the same time response to medical emergencies in the rapidly growing neighborhoods surrounding Woodward Park in southeast Manteca are expected to become more quicker.

That’s because of a federal grant of $1.27 million that will allow the hiring of six firefighters for two years using Federal Emergency Management Agency funds designed to allow Manteca to reach the National Fire Protection Agency standard for firefighter deployment. That standard is to have 15 firefighters on a first-alarm residential structure fire for a more effective response as well as to enhance firefighter and citizen safety.

Currently Station 4 has full coverage with a 3-man engine company 50 percent of the time. The rest of the time there is a 2-man rescue squad assigned to the station. The strategy allowed the city to open the fire station sooner. It is also based on the fact medical emergency calls outnumber fire calls 16 to 1 in the City of Manteca.

The current Manteca municipal budget as adopted in June by the Manteca City Council also authorizes the hiring of two additional firefighters using Measure M Public Safety Tax receipts. It will bring the number of firefighters funded by the half cent sales tax to 15. There are already 15 police officers funded from the sales tax.

Southeast Manteca now has the longest response times with a number of homes outside the optimum five minute response time.

The city has plans to build a fifth fire station on land at Atherton Drive and Woodward Avenue. A partial design is nearly complete. Construction is contingent on Manteca securing the funding.

In the mean time Fire Chief Kirk Waters plans to base the 2-man rescue squad at either the Powers Avenue or Union Road station in order to serve the Woodward Park area. The rescue squad would also fill-in to cover the four existing fire protection districts that the existing stations serve when the engine is out on a call. The additional staffing will also take pressure off the city’s $1 million aerial fire truck.

Waters also noted the bump in staffing could potentially provide enough staffing to open the fifth fire station using the same combo strategy of partial coverage by a rescue squad that allowed the Lathrop Road station to pen.

Average response times to homes south of Woodward Park that are currently being built are outside the five-minute threshold. The fifth fire station would slash such response times by at least half as well. There are already 1,000 homes in southeast Manteca outside the five-minute response time. It is the fastest growing section of the city.

Manteca Fire handled 5,993 emergency calls in 2014 compared 5,854 emergency calls in 2013. Last year’s calls were up 25 percent compared to 4,712 calls in 2010. There were 1,629 service calls last year as well as 535 calls for other emergencies.

Manteca had 217 fires out of 5,993 calls in 2014. It is significantly below the record year in 2004 when fire crews responded to 336 fires. Losses were up to $3.3 million in 2014 compared to $1.9 million in 2013. Last year topped the previous record year in 2011 for fire losses when $3.23 million in property losses were recorded due to fire. Fire losses are based in current dollars and not constant dollars.

Among cities in the region of roughly the same population Manteca had the lowest firefighters per capita in a survey conducted earlier this year. Manteca’s population in 2014 was 71,948. Manteca was served by 41 firefighters. Turlock with 70,364 residents had 45 firefighters, Lodi with 63,338 residents had 54 firefighters, Folsom with 73,096 residents had 55 firefighters, and West Sacramento with 49,891 residents had 62 firefighters.

The eight additional personnel between the federal grant and Measure M will give Manteca 49 firefighters.