Manteca will open its fifth station with a full staff of firefighters in mid-2020 thanks to a $542,203 federal grant.
The City Council Tuesday formally accepted the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant.
Two addition firefighters will be hired by March completing the nine firefighter staffing needed to man a three-man engine 24-7 when the station now under construction at Atherton Drive and Woodward Avenue opens in southeast Manteca.
The grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and Homeland Security will pay 75 percent of the cost of two firefighters for two years with the city required to cover the remaining 25 percent. In the third and final year the grant covers 35 percent of the cost and the city 65 percent.
The city, in accepting the money, cannot reduce staffing levels over the three year period the grant deal is in effect.
By then growth in property tax and sales tax revenue is expected to allow the city to cover 100 percent of the cost of the two positions.
It is the third time the city secured a federal SAFE grant to hire firefighters. The last time was in 2016 when six firefighters were hired. There was also a grant to fund additional firefighters the city obtained in 2002.
The SAFE grant allowing the station to open with nine firefighters is a significant development given it will mark the first time since the 1960s the City of Manteca will open an expansion fire station that will be fully staffed from the first day.
The Louise Avenue station sat vacant for a year after it was completed in the mid-1980s due to fiscal issues that left the city with just over a $1,200 general fund reserve and unable to hire additional firefighters.
When the Union Road station opened in 2002 it was a replacement for the Center Street station allowing firefighting staffing to be shifted.
The Lathrop Road station by Del Webb at Woodbridge opened earlier this decade short staffed. The station operated for close to two years with some shifts having two firefighters. That meant only a rescue unit could respond from the station for some shifts instead of a three-man fire engine.
To illustrate how far the city has come since the mid-1980s when they had a general fund reserve and were unable to keep up with growth that resulted in a fire station being completed that couldn’t be staffed due to a $1,200 general fund reserve, Manteca is set to open its fifth station fully staffed and equipped with the equivalent of 25 percent ($13.3 million) of the $45.4 million general fund in reserve.
The city last month placed an order for a new $600,000 plus fire engine for the station. The engine is being paid for from the public safety endowment fund that was set up by special fees collapsed into the price of more than 1,900 homes built in Del Webb at Woodbridge and Union Ranch in north Manteca.
Due to the length of time to build and equip a new fire engine, Manteca isn’t anticipating taking delivery until several months or so after the station opens. Until then, one of the department’s backup fire engines will be assigned to the station.
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