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Layoffs mean first-response force is cut by 25%
Budget move sidelines fire engine company
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The loss of six firefighters means Manteca will mothball one engine company starting July 1.

“There will be a reduction in service,” said Manteca Fire Chief Kirk Waters.

The cuts were made Wednesday as part of a city plan to bridge a $4.2 million gap between spending and projected revenue in the upcoming fiscal year.

While exact staffing plans haven’t been hammered out, the impacted engine companies are housed at the South Union Road station. They include one of the city’s three traditional fire engine companies plus the 100-foot aerial platform ladder company. The city acquired the aerial platform truck just over a year ago for $1 million.

The addition of the fourth engine company - the aerial platform truck - was credited with Manteca reducing the fire losses in 2010 by $1.7 million despite a 17 percent increase in fire calls.

Thanks to the fourth engine company the department also was able to improve its percentage of getting an engine on the scene of a call within five minutes to 82 percent of the time in 2010 as opposed to 80 percent of the time in 2009. The national standard is 90 percent of the time to have units arrive within five minutes of a call being received. The five-minute goal is a mantra in fire service as irreversible brain damage begins within five minutes of a sudden cardiac arrest while house fires double in size every 60 seconds and after five minutes contents in a room will often spontaneously combust.

It takes nine firefighters to fully staff an engine company 24/7. That leaves the city with three firefighters to fill in on the remaining three engine companies during vacation, sickness and personnel sidelined due to injuries.