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New Manteca fire station blends in with neighbors
Fire Marshal Lantz Rey who took the lead on the construction of Mantecas newest fire station shows the new doors that will replace the traditional aluminum roll-ups. By opening to the side, the heavy steel panels will prevent engines that are rushing out on an emergency call from accidentally clipping the top. - photo by JASON CAMPBELL

Manteca’s newest fire station passes the style test.

Traditional white tile flooring has been replaced with a sleek black concrete finish. The countertops and appliances in the kitchen have a stainless steel appearance. And the workout room has the same interlocking floor mats that you’d find at your local gym.

Yes, Manteca’s firefighters are going to be living large when not out on calls or handling the standard day-to-day tasks that comes with the job.

But the new facility – which is set to formally open on Sept. 11 – also boasts a level of practicality that you aren’t going to find at the other three facilities that house Manteca’s bravest.

For one, drains in the floors throughout the building will make it easier for those who staff the complex to keep it clean. Places like the kitchen and the area where the trucks will be parks can literally be hosed out – the concrete interior will prevent soot and other materials that come from fires or accident scenes from staining the floor.

The heavy steel and glass doors that give passers-by the chance to see the fire engines and other apparatus parked inside, according to Fire Marshal Lantz Rey, also serve a dual-purpose by opening to the side rather than rolling up like traditional doors. Several times in the past engines that were leaving on emergency calls clipped the top of the roll-up door because it wasn’t completely up. This new innovation will completely prevent that.

And then there’s the outward appearance. When Rey and Fire Chief Kirk Waters were working closely with the Superintendent of the project to figure out how to blend it in with the local neighborhood, they literally point at a house in nearby Del Webb and said “that one.”

“Anytime we build something we want to be good neighbors, and blending into the community is something that was important with this project,” Rey said. “I think that the residents are happy with the way things turned out, and the community is too.”

A new facility also means new equipment.

The new station will be the first in the city to have a special turnout washing station that will remove the soot and the chemicals that come as a result of house fires and emergency calls and a ventilation station that will dry them – removing the possibility that anything harmful will come into the living quarters.

Four bunk areas will be able to serve the three three-man crews that will be scheduled to serve the area – the only one in Manteca that falls outside of the crucial five-minute response window.

Waters, however, will have to get creative in order to make sure that the residents in that section of town, which continues to grow, are constantly covered.

He says that it’s remarkable that Manteca is even able to construct a new fire station in a day and age when cities are shuttering them across the country because of budget cuts. His own budget likely won’t allow for three full-time shifts of firefighters, so periodic brownouts where a two-man rescue team will replace an engine company is going to have to do.

“This is going to bring 3,000 homes into that window and serve a large amount of families and senior citizens,” Waters said. “It’s something that we’ve talked about before, but we’re excited about the future and what this means for the department and the residents.

“Our guys have what they call shift-bidding where they compete with one another to see who gets assigned where. I have a feeling this is going to be one of the places that gets a lot of bids.”