Looking for ways to make the Manteca Fire Department more nimble responding to emergencies as well as more cost efficient, the city is rolling out a pilot program involving the deployment of a quick attack medium duty response vehicle.
City Manager Tim Ogden has included the $350,000 vehicle as part of a spending plan for the fiscal year starting July 1.
It will be purchased using the public safety endowment fund created from $7,000 a pop paid when building permits were issued for the Del Webb and Union Ranch neighborhoods in north Manteca. The fund also will pay for a $600,000 replacement fire engine, a $58,000 non-emergency fire vehicle, and a $44,000 police motorcycle.
Ogden noted the quick response truck — that would still be manned with three firefighters — costs $250,000 less than a standard fire engine and is less expensive to operate and maintain.
It also would have the equipment found on a standard fire engine but less of it.
The city is currently using an aerial truck with a 100-foot ladder as the primary response as a front-line fire engine dispatched from the Powers Avenue station. It cost $1 million to purchase roughly a decade ago. Piling high mileage on the engine going to calls could hasten the need to replace the aerial truck that is critical in combatting fires at large business park structures. It also would be needed to conduct rescue and possible fire response if an incident ever happened at the four-story, 500-room hotel being built that is part of the Great Wolf indoor waterpark resort. The replacement for the truck at current costs could be in excess of $1.2 million.
A scaled down quick response fire vehicle dovetails into the reality that 58 percent of the department’s emergency calls in 2018 were medical and rescue based. Only 5 percent of the 7,759 calls the department handled in 2018 were actual fires. Also in structure fires, the department dispatches multiple engines.
Although there are no details yet on what station the pilot program would take place at, the logical choice would appear to be the new station being built at Atherton Drive and Woodward Avenue where construction crews are expected to start work on within the month.
The reason it would be the logical choice is since Jan. 1, 2011 California law requires all new single family homes built to have residential fire sprinklers. While they don’t eliminate fires they greatly reduce the chance of them spreading.
Southwest Manteca — the area that station will serve — has the city’s highest concentration of homes built after 2011.
Also the new station when built is expected to get the lion’s share of accident calls that are occurring at the rate of almost one a day on the 120 Bypass primarily eastbound between Main Street and Highway 99.
The city has received criticism from residents about the aerial ladder truck responding to auto accidents on the belief it is too much engine and too expensive of an engine to dispatch.
What prompted the decision to use the aerial truck in such a manner was the lack of funding. The ladder truck was bought with the purpose of protecting large business park structures. The original intent was to house it at the Union Road station with a standard fire engine with the three man crew there using the appropriate engine for fire calls. Ideally, if Manteca had adequate funding, the Union Road station was originally planned to house two crews — one for each truck.
The aerial truck was shifted to Powers Avenue when it was determined it was closer to most structures that it would be essential to combat a fire. Now that Great Wolf is being built and industrial business parks are being built along Airport Way, the Union Road location would seem to be a more central location for the aerial truck.
Manteca firefighters respond to all medical calls to work in concert with Manteca District Ambulance crews. Manteca firefighters are certified in basic life support while the ambulance crews are trained in advance life support.
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