Manteca firefighters in 2015 were given a critical tool to shave precious seconds in determining how to respond to fires and other emergencies — iPads.
The iPads give personnel on front line engines and battalion chiefs responding to all alarms instant information on mapping, pre-incident plans such as where hazardous chemicals may be stored at a business, hydrant locations, and other critical data when they respond to all alarms. The iPads are part of the Mobile Data Terminal program that was fully implemented last year.
It replaced a costly and unreliable laptop program. The new system also allows Manteca Fire personnel to use their personal cell phones for callbacks.
Prior to electronic devices, critical information that firefighters needed for responding to incidents was put on paper and kept in folders in large file boxes in the back end of the battalion chief’s Suburban.
The new iPad system was one of two major initiatives implemented last year outlined in the department’s annual report for 2015 issued this month by Fire Chief Kirk Waters.
The other was the opening of the Emergency Operations Center in the fall in leased space on Cherry Lane across from the Manteca Civic Center. It will allow the city to provide faster and more effective responses for large scale incidents such as a repeat of the 1997 flood or the derailment of a train with numerous chemical cars near Manteca High in 1989. It avoids having to take the time to set up a temporary command center and bringing needed tools together since they are already in one location. It is designed to serve as a recovery center as well after handling an emergency response.
The department responded to a record 6,615 calls in 2015. That represented a jump in call volume of 12 percent over 2014 levels. Emergency calls for the department have swelled by over 40 percent during the past six years.
Of the calls in 2015, there were 3,867 medical emergencies, 1,870 service calls, 607 other emergencies, and 271 fires. Other emergencies encompass vehicle accidents, hazardous material responses, and fire alarms sounding. Service calls include smoke and/or odor investigations and public/police assists.
Fire losses were pegged at $3.1 million last year, down from $3.3 million in 2014. The losses for 2013 were $1.9 million, for 2012 they were $2.2 million, and for 2011 they were $3.2 million.