There wasn’t any delay between when the Lathrop-Manteca Fire District graduated nine new firefighters from its academy, and when they officially were on the line.
After celebrating the accomplishments of the district’s newest members – which will boost its personnel by almost 25 percent when all of the firefighters are incorporated into the schedule – last Friday night, the first firefighter started his shift the next day. Chief Gene Neely said the rest were worked in accordingly.
Currently three firefighters will be assigned to Station 31, three to Station 34, and three will be assigned to staff the district’s new rescue unit – which will give the district more flexibility in responding the myriad of calls they may be asked to respond to.
And while the expansion is a bit of a shock to the independent district, it’s only the beginning of a period where the numbers of sworn personnel will grow significantly as they expand to cover the growing City of Lathrop.
The district’s newest fire station – being constructed in River Islands and able to house seven firefighters for two separate crews – is expected to be completed by the end of the year, and while Neely said it will take some time before the four-man truck crew is added, nine firefighters will be needed to staff the engine crew in three separate shifts.
“Right now we’re trying to get back all of those positons that we never filled from attrition, and now we’re facing growth like we haven’t seen in a while,” Neely said. “And that opens up the ranks for promotions from within the district and gives guys the chance to move up.
“If this continues, we may get to a point where we don’t have the pool of individuals that can fill the higher ranking positons and we’ll have to go outside for lateral transfers, but right now there are some guys who are being promoted.”
All of that transition means planning for Neely, who will ultimately transfer his entire administrative operation over in River Islands to be closer to where the growth inside of the city is taking place.
Once it’s completed, River Islands is expected to be home to nearly 30,000 people and will house two fire stations and potentially four separate companies to cover the massive development.
All of the positions in River Islands are being paid for through fire facility fees that will be used soon to purchase a new engine for the soon-to-be-completed station. That piece of apparatus will take nearly a year to be built by Pierce Manufacturing in Appleton, Wisconsin.
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