It’s not your imagination that you seem to hear more emergency sirens in Manteca.
The Manteca Fire Department calls reached a record high of 7,759 in 2018. That is almost a 17 percent increase beyond the 2015 level when they handled 6,615 calls.
And despite the increased call volume and city traffic, the response time for Code 3 calls that run the gamut from fires to medical calls only took 4 percent longer. They went from an average of four minutes and 23 seconds in 2015 to four minutes and 33 seconds last year for an increase of 10 seconds.
How the department is doing, the services they provide, as well as the increasing workload triggered by growth was shared by Fire Captain Franco Torrice during a meeting earlier this month of the Manteca Soroptimists at Ernie’s Restaurant Rendezvous Room.
Every 15 hours in 2018 Manteca Fire responded to a traffic accident on either the 120 Bypass or Highway 99.
The highest freeway for responses continues to be on the 120 Bypass that is the deadliest and most accident probe stretch of highway in the Northern San Joaquin Valley. Manteca Fire responded to 321 accidents on the 120 Bypass and 257 wrecks on Highway 99 last year. That’s 5.8 percent of the record 10,000 plus calls for service the department received in 2018. More than 150,000 vehicles pass through Manteca on an average day via the two freeways.
The biggest achievement for the department last year is arguably attaining a coveted “Class 2 City” rating from the Insurance Service Office (ISO).
That means the Manteca department is within the top 3 percent of 46,000 fire departments and agencies nationwide. The improved rating from a “Class 3 City” has a positive impact on fire insurance premiums as insurance firms view such a rating as reducing their exposure to risk and losses from fire for those they insure in the community. Historically the conferring of the higher rating results in lower premium or reduces rate increases.
The ISO rates a community’s ability to suppress fires. It covers staffing and equipment, fire communication technology, as well as water supply and pressure.
Medical emergencies accounted for 60 percent of all department calls for service in 2018. Public assist/mutual aid was next at 28 percent, fires at 5 percent, false alarms 5 percent, and hazardous material less than 2 percent.
There were 17 mutual aid incidents in 2018 where Manteca firefighters and equipment were sent to major fires outside the city. That included the Camp Fire in Butte County that killed 85 people and destroyed more than 14,000 homes. Altogether Manteca firefighters last year spent 16,310 hours on mutual aid calls.
Manteca’s fire calls for service have increased 31 percent since 2014 while population increased 13.4 percent going from 71,871 to 81,500 residents.
The average response time to a Code 3 call — life and property possibly in eminent danger requiring red lights and siren response — was four minutes and 33 seconds in 2018. That was, on average, 11 seconds longer than in 2017. It was four minutes and 23 seconds in 2015 and four minutes and 20 seconds in 2016.
There were 69 mutual aid calls — including 17 calls to major wildfire incidents — responded to from other departments. The other 52 mutual aid calls were primarily to Lathrop, Ripon, and Tracy. The Manteca department requested and received mutual aid 75 times during 2018.
In addition Manteca made 160 automatic aid calls and received 60 during 2018. This involves an agreement with the Lathrop Manteca Fire District where the closest engine to an incident is dispatched. That means 60 times a Lathrop Manteca engine was closer to a call within the city limits and 160 times city engines were closer to incidents in rural agencies. Lathrop Manteca maintains two rural stations — one on South Union Road south of Nile Road and one on Lathrop Road at Austin Road.
To contact Dennis Wyatt, email dwyatt@mantecabulletin