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Todd retires as Manteca firefighter
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Manteca Fire Chief Kirk Waters thanks retiring firefighter Bill Todd for his years of service to the residents of Manteca before presenting him with a commemorative fire ax engraved with his name and his years of service. - photo by GLENN KAHL

Bill Todd has gone from fighting fires to throwing darts.

The retiring Manteca Fire Department firefighter was a member of the U.S. Coast Guard from 1975 to 1980. Todd was an electrician’s mate, first class and stationed at Air station Kodiak, Alaska where he acquired his love for competition in darts in the barracks.

Manteca Battalion Chief Bob Davis credited Todd for always being willing to try something different and not being locked into the thinking that “it’s not the way we’ve always done it.”

After finishing his tour with the Coast Guard he worked as an electrician for the Crane Service Corporation. He then worked at the Rancho Seco nuclear power plant and finally at Heinz in Tracy before dropping his career as an electrician to join the fire service.

He joined the fire department in October of 1990 as a firefighter. He later worked as an engineer for 10 years. Todd was also an acting captain during the hiring freeze. He had first served as a reserve with the Tracy Fire Department from 1985 to 1990, having started there as a volunteer.

In a moment of reflection, he noted that when he joined the department he was No. 33 among the firefighters and upon his retirement he was No. 36. When he joined the fire ranks there were some 10 square miles the city protected and a population of 33,000 people – compared to 77,000 today and 25 square miles.

“I’ve watched the city limits grow on and on,” he added.

He said one incident – a freeway traffic accident – that made it to his scrap book when he was atop a car that hung precariously over the side of the 120 Bypass with him on top. His wife was driving into town on Moffat Boulevard to visit him at the station. She recognized him hanging precariously as she looked upwards from Moffat Boulevard.

Todd’s memories of his service include being on an emergency strike team in San Diego in 2007 and at a delicatessen fire at the old Big Boy Market in the early 1990s.

The professional firefighter began his “Excalibur Darts” business some 20 years ago with electronic games to be found in Manteca, Turlock, Modesto, Tracy, Ripon, and Livermore with many connected to the Internet. The machines allow you to play against anyone in the world who has access to the same type of machine.

There are four electronic dart boards at Chuck’s Place near Home Depot and others at the Starlight Room, the Moose Lodge, and Extreme Sports — all in Manteca. There is also an electronic board at the Fireside Inn in Lathrop.

He boasts having 22 of the newer Internet versions of his dart games and 56 older models.

 “I played darts as a hobby and turned it into a business,” he chuckled.

His wife Judy ran the business while he was working for the fire department. He has taken on the load of expanding the operation and recently bought 10 of the newer versions at a total cost of $6,500. The business was started in February of 1994.

Together they have six sons aged from 20 to 42.

The couple explained that their customers can play dart games in 18 different countries, wherever the games are located within the Dartsline/U.S. network locations. Players watch their competitors shoot their soft-tipped darts on a screen atop the games.

Todd cherishes his 43 dart shooting medals from the Firefighters Olympics in Indianapolis. At the police and fire games he beat out 110 players, he recalled. In the Cricket and 501 dart game competitions he has won two world gold medals.

“In 2011 Judy and I won the Trios event with Zac Boatman in Las Vegas winning $2,250,” he said.

Donoby’s Bar and Grill in Turlock was their sponsor and that is where their world champion plaques can be seen hanging on the wall.