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It will serve 4,300 homes in fast growing SW Manteca when finished
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Turning the ceremonial first shovels of dirt for Manteca’s newest fire station are, from left, Fire Chief Kyle Shipherd, Councilman Mike Morowit, Councilman Richard Silverman, Mayor Steve DeBrum, Councilwoman Debby Moorhead, Councilman Gary Singh, City Manager Tim Ogden, and Congressman Jeff Denham. - photo by DENNIS WYATT

Things have changed in Manteca — and the world — during the last 95 years.

Back in 1923, Manteca built its first “fire station” that housed the fire department’s one engine as well as a dormitory and club room for firefighters along with space for city hall, the city marshal’s office, city jail, post office, and leased space for the San Joaquin County Health Department for $20,000. The 4,386-square-foot, two-story brick building now houses private sector offices in the 100 block of Sycamore Avenue.  The fire station was located on Sycamore Avenue until a free-standing station was built on Center Street in the 1940s.

The city had less than 1,100 residents and most structure fires involved the burning of wood, glass, and natural fabrics. The city had one fire engine — a 1920 Ford combination pump and chemical engine equipped with 1,000 feet of hoses and ladders. It cost $4,000.

On Tuesday, Manteca broke ground on its fifth fire station at Atherton Drive and Woodward Avenue. The 6,711-square-foot station is costing $4.5 million. The station features a basic “L” design with four dorm rooms, two offices, living area, exercise area, task specific rooms and bays designed to accommodate larger apparatus than the standard fire engine company if need be.

Manteca now has 81,450 residents. The explosion of plastics, home electronics, and other toxic materials now found in a typical household makes firefighting a lot different. That’s why the new station will be the first in Manteca set up where firefighters returning from a fire will go into a decontamination room first to shower and secure their turnouts before entering their living quarters and the rest of the station to eliminate the possible spread of toxics. The city now has a fleet of fire engines including a 100-foot aerial truck that cost $1 million.

The launch of construction for the city’s newest station — targeted for completion in mid-2020 — was marked Tuesday by the ceremonial turning of dirt. Donning fire helmets in lieu of construction hard hats for the task were Mayor Steve DeBrum; council members Debby Moorhead, Mike Morowit, Gary Singh, and Richard Silverman; Fire Chief Kyle Shipherd; Congressman Jeff Denham; and City Manager Tim Ogden.

Administrative Chief Lantz Rey told the gathering he was “given orders to design a station that would last a hundred years” and to do so in a cost-effective manner.  To make sure the station can handle whatever changes in effective fire service may occur, the station was designed with bays that will handle apparatus larger than what will be stationed there when it opens as well as being to accommodate living quarters for a shift of five firefighters instead of three that now man an engine. That means one option the station could ultimately house could be a 24/7 manned engine company and a 24/7 manned rescue unit.

Rey noted the fire department met with neighbors as part of the design process that led to architecture that will blend virtually seamlessly with nearby homes.

He added the decontamination set up is a nod that firefighters thanks to a toxic mixture of gases from various type of fires have a 68 percent higher chance than the general population to be stricken with cancer.

As earthmovers were preparing 160 plus home sites plus doing ground work for the extension of Atherton Drive south of Woodward Avenue, Fire Chief Shipherd noted how the station is being well-situated to serve growth.

The chief noted there are currently 2,600 homes in southeast Manteca outside the targeted five minute response time city leaders have set as a standard to attain. That is the time window in which the optimum results can be attained in most fires as well as medical emergencies where an individual has stopped breathing.

“Now it takes eight, nine or 10 minutes for a fire engine to arrive (to calls in southeast Manteca),” Shipherd said.

Thanks to brisk new home sales by the time the station is completed in 18 months there will be 4,300 living units that will be outside the five minute response target including three large apartment complexes. Not only would the station bring all of those people within the optimum response time, but it is situated to serve 1,600 more homes planned as part of the Griffin Park neighborhoods along south Main Street.

The station, thanks to its location, is expected to be the first responder to the bulk of the accident calls where freeway traffic approaches the 120 Bypass and Highway 99 interchange. Those freeway sections in the past eight years have had 1,700 accidents, 900 injuries and 17 deaths.  

The design of the station now being built will serve as a template for the sixth station being pursued in southwest Manteca in the general area of McKinley Avenue and Woodward Avenue.

“It’s all about planning so we can provide the needs and serve the community,” Mayor DeBrum said.

To contact Dennis Wyatt, email