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Nine new firefighters will start working within next few weeks
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The nine firefighters hired by the Lathrop-Manteca Fire District that are being funded through a federal grant are just weeks away from being on the job.
According to Fire Chief Gene Neely, the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response grant, known as SAFER, helped the district in recruiting and hiring nine firefighters that will be used to staff a rescue unit that was paid for with Measure C funds and fire facility fee revenues.
Those nine firefighters, plus two replacements for personnel that no longer work for the district, are currently going through a three-week full-time firefighter academy that will bring them up to speed on everything they need to know about how things within the district operate. Once that is completed – graduation is set for 6 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 16 at Lathrop City Hall – they’ll be brought on to reinforce existing posts and to staff the new rescue unit – which provides additional resources for everything from water rescue to large vehicle extrications, and carries tools that aren’t commonly found on engines or trucks.
“Most of the people that we hire have some experience with Cal Fire or from a different agency, so this allows us to show them how we do things here and what they’re going to be expected to do,” said Neely, who noted the three-week crash course has been around since he was hired by the district. “We’re excited about having these personnel available to staff that new unit that we’ll send out to every structure fire and high-speed vehicle accident – water rescues or when Tracy calls and needs mutual aid on something that’s specialized that the unit can assist with.”
Given the district’s unique layout and configuration – which includes a railyard, a fertilizer plant, several large industrial companies, massive warehouses, fast-moving rivers and both an Interstate Highway and a freeway interchange – the flexibility of having a rescue unit that can provide additional resources at a moment’s notice, Neely said, is a huge boost for the district and those who live within it.
And just having it could end up saving the residents of Lathrop and the surrounding county areas that are protected by the district money.
Neely said that during the district’s last insurance adjustment, they were less than a point away from being a Class 2 city – a decision that was made before the new fire truck and the rescue unit were purchased. Within months, Neely said, both will be on-line full-time and when the district has its annual ISO evaluation, will likely move up a spot which could very well save homeowners money on their insurance bills every year.
Neely said that the staffing assignments for the remaining nine firefighters are still being ironed out – noting that not all of them will be assigned to the rescue unit. The new truck team and an under-construction fire station in River Islands gives the district the need for additional personnel.

To contact reporter Jason Campbell email or call 209.249.3544.