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Lathrop Manteca Fire looks to buy back up aerial ladder truck
LM fire truck

Last year was a busy one for the Lathrop Manteca Fire District.

In addition to responding to 39 structure fires, 107 grass and vegetation fires, 370 vehicle accidents, 1,137 medical emergencies, the agency that provides fire and emergency service to Lathrop, River Islands, and the rural areas surrounding Lathrop and Manteca added a new fire station and new apparatus to serve the growing communities they serve.

And 2020 is looking like it’ll shape up to be an even bigger year.

According to Lathrop Manteca Fire Chief Gene Neely, who is currently in Kansas looking to possibly purchase a backup ladder truck with a 100-foot aerial ladder, a number of balls are currently in the air that will shape the way that the district operates moving forward – from future locations to medical protocols.

“Right now, we’re looking to purchase land for Station 36 over on McKinley and Yosemite avenues and are hoping to get a shop up and running,” Neely said. “We do all of our own maintenance for all of our vehicles, and we’re hoping to get a place going where we can keep some of our extra equipment.”

With at least one building recently completed with a footprint of more than 1 million square feet and several others on the horizon, the agency’s need for a fire truck that get water and personnel onto the roof of some of the large concrete tilt-up buildings becomes vital, Neely said.

With one truck already available with a 100-foot ladder, having a backup – especially a used one like the one that he is currently out looking at which is available at a substantially reduced price – helps provide an additional level of protection that Neely said he hopes corresponds to an event better Insurance Services Office rating that could correspond to lower insurance rates for residents.

Neely said that the department’s Rescue unit, which was paid for from Measure C funds, has been staffed consistently for some time now and plans are in place to keep that rig operational to show that the enhanced level of service is something that is permanent – something that seemed impossible less than 10 years ago when financial issues stemming from drastically-reduced property tax rates forced the agency to go to voters for a tax hike.

And with Measure C funding providing even more annual income for the agency than initially forecasted, Neely said he expects to be able to fund paramedic school for a number of existing firefighters in order to implement an Advanced Life Support program that they are currently working to develop with the San Joaquin County Office of Emergency Medical Services.

“They’re developing the steps right now that we need to take to achieve that, and we’re hoping to get that going very soon,” Neely said. “There are a lot of things going on right now, and we just want to bring that enhanced level of protection.”

By the end of April, Neely also believes that the district’s new fire truck – which will be housed at Station 31 – should be operational with a full staff to help augment existing firefighting efforts in and around the city and on mutual aid calls.

To contact reporter Jason Campbell email or call 209.249.3544.