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Practice, practice, practice
Target is 2 hours a day of training
Manteca Fire Battalion Chief Bob Davis helps get things in order during a mock structure fire drill Sunday at the old Economy Muffler building at the corner of South Main and Wetmore streets. - photo by HIME ROMERO

There is no such thing as a typical fire.

Not only do various types of construction and building design have different issues but things such as rescue, chemicals, and materials capable of exploding expand the variables.

It is why Manteca Fire Department crews in 2010 spent an average of 3.5 hours every 24-hour shift they worked training. That is up from 2.55 hours in 2008 and 3.04 hours in 2009. The department’s goal is a minimum average of two hours per firefighter per shift.

“Firefighters face a lot of different situations from hazardous spills and car accidents to fires and medical emergencies,” noted Fire Chief Kirk Waters.

Waters noted the daily training not only keeps skills sharp and helps firefighters deal with new situations but it develops stronger team work that is essential to saving seconds when time is of an essence.

As a full service fire department Manteca responds to medical emergencies, structure fires, traffic accidents, grass fires, hazardous material spills, trapped individuals such as in trenches, fire inspections and education for everything from helping prevent fires to teaching life savings techniques to the general public.

Manteca firefighters in 2010 handled between 360 to 439 emergency calls a month. Of the roughly 5,000 calls, 143 were actual fires. Everything else was a repertoire of emergency responses including every medical service call imaginable to extricating victims out of crumpled cars.

Waters noted by constantly practicing with the department’s Jaws of Life - a hydraulic tool that pulls apart twisted metal - firefighters can more effectively extract victims in a timely manner and do so in the safest way possible.

The need to do the right thing and do so quickly is driven by statistics that show irreversible brain death begins within five minutes for victims of sudden cardiac arrest. As for fires, studies show they are capable of doubling in size every 60 seconds if left unchecked.