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Higher clearance for grass fires
fire one copy
Mantecas newest fire engine was part of the Fourth of July parade. - photo by HIME ROMERO/The Bulletin

Manteca’s newest fire engine rides higher for a reason.
It has a higher clearance making it more effective to tackle grass fires as well as  rural mutual aid calls south of the 120 Bypass.
The $500,000 replacement engine is being housed at the Union Road station to address those needs.
The longstanding partnership with Lathrop Manteca Fire District has improved emergency response times for both the City of Manteca and the district that protects Lathrop and the rural areas surrounding Manteca.
The new engine replaces a 1989 open cab engine that had become problematic due to its age and mounting repair needs. The engine it replaced had been in back-up service to the initial engine assigned to the station. Typically fire departments strive to replace engines every 20 years due to wear and tear with engines serving in a front-line role for 10 years and then as a back-up and/or secondary response engine for 10 years. Manteca still has another 1989 engine that is now in its 27th year of responding to emergencies. The addition of the new engine will be able to put the oldest front-line engine among the four city fire stations into secondary service.
The new engine has the same capabilities of the city’s other engines. It can carry 750 gallons of water as well as ladders, hose, and other equipment. It has the ability to pump 1,500 gallons of water per minute.
And just like the other engines it is equipped with “jaws of life” and other hydraulic equipment to deal with persons trapped in smaller vehicles such as autos. The rescue squad carries heavier duty versions of the same equipment to deal with trapped individuals in larger vehicles and such as trucks and buses. It also carries other specialized rescue equipment such as hydraulic rams and other heavy duty stabilization tools.
Fire Chief Kirk Waters noted having the rescue squad staffed thanks to six firefighters being hired using a federal grant has significantly improved targeted five-minute response times.
“For example 4 times (Thursday) the rescue moved and covered for an engine already at an emergency and was able to respond to a second emergency in that same district,” Waters noted.
The rescue squad is now at the Union Road station. It will also be placed at the Powers Avenue station. The switch off is to determine the best response time for most calls to southeast Manteca homes.
Manteca within two to three years could have a fifth fire station built at  Atherton Drive at Woodward Avenue.
With current staffing levels, the department could staff the station if it were open today 30 percent of the time with a three-man engine company and the rest of the time with a two-man rescue squad.
That is how the city approached staffing the fourth fire station that opened on Lathrop Road several years ago adjacent to Del Webb at Woodbridge until such time they were able to fund nine firefighters  to staff the engine 24/7 at a cost of roughly $1 million a year.
The two-man rescue squad goes a long way to plugging service gaps. That’s because of Manteca’s 6,615 calls for service in 2015, 3,867 were for medical emergencies, 1,870 were service calls, 607 were other emergencies, and 271 were fire calls.
Currently 1,250 existing homes are outside of the department’s targeted 5 minute emergency response time in southwest Manteca where the fifth station is planned. There are also another 1,430 homes being fast-tracked by developers near the proposed fire station site.
Arriving on scene within five minutes of a call being dispatched is essential for the best possible survival rate for heart and stroke victims as well as to attack fires before they flashover.
Citywide, Manteca fire engines in 2015 were arriving at emergency calls within five minutes 82 percent of the time. But when it comes to the 1,250 homes south of Woodward Avenue and east of Main Street, fire crews arrived on scene within five minutes less than 10 percent of the time. The rescue squad is increasing the percentage of calls that get a response of five minutes or less in the area as well as throughout Manteca when it is moved into a back-up position when a station’s engine is responding to a call.
The City Council in February approved spending $149,195 to have RPM Design Group provide 30 percent of the design work needed for a new station at Atherton Drive and Woodward Avenue in southeast Manteca.
The city already owns the land at Atherton Drive and Woodward Avenue as it was given to Manteca by Atherton Homes nearly 15 years ago.
The new station will cost $2.6 million and would be a scaled down version of the Lathrop Road station. It will be designed to blend in with residential housing and will have low-water use landscaping.
The city council has yet to identify funding to cover the construction tab.
To contact Dennis Wyatt, email