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Former Lathrop/Manteca fire chief passes away

The former fire chief of both the Lathrop Manteca Fire District and the French Camp McKinley Fire District has passed away.

Fred Manding, who served the residents of Lathrop and the rural areas that surround it twice in his career, died last week – prompting a memorial from his former employer on social media that included condolences from past employees and memories of the way that Manding helped them in their careers.

With stints at both Lathrop Manteca and French Camp McKinley as well as the Clements Fire District, Escalon Fire District, and the Stanislaus Consolidated Fire District, Manding spent decades working his way up the ladder to run a variety of agencies and worked with hundreds of firefighters during his career.

While tensions may have ran high at times in the twilight of his career and relationships with the agency he once led were occasionally strained over bureaucratic processes, his impact on the lives of the people he knew, according to Lathrop Manteca Fire Chief Gene Neely, is undeniable.

“He was there when I first walked through the door of the Lathrop Manteca Fire District 25 years ago, and he dedicated his life to the fire service,” Neely said. “He’s going to be missed – his commitment to providing the best service has always been there and it’s our turn honor him by continuing that and carrying the torch forward.”

Neely said that while it is not a line-of-duty death – Manding had retired after an extended period of stress leave from the French Camp McKinley Fire District – his agency will do everything it can to honor the man that once led the district.

“The family has reached out to me and we’re working on all of that right now,” Neely said. “We’re going to have a fire truck there and there will be a procession and all of those details are being worked out.

“He touched a lot of lives, and he will be missed.”

To contact reporter Jason Campbell email or call 209.249.3544.