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4 fire agencies drill at 2-story senior complex
Ripon Fire Departments aerial ladder truck took part in a drill Monday afternoon at the Prestige Senior Living two-story apartment complex 1130 Empire Avenue at Louise Avenue that houses as many as 130 residents. - photo by GLENN KAHL

It was a drill – only a drill.

Firefighters from four agencies grouped together in a simulated “mutual-aid” attack focused on rescuing as many as 75 residents from what was initially a smoke-filled portion of the Prestige Senior Living two-story complex at 1130 Empire Avenue near East Louise Avenue.

Manteca Battalion Chief Kyle Shipherd was the officer in charge of the drill that brought half a dozen engines, including 100-foot aerial ladders to the living complex shortly after the noon hour on Monday.

The exercise involved fire in an occupant’s room that created a smoke inhalation problem in the building.  Twelve residents were rescued by firefighters – victims’ roles were acted out by members of the CERT team and other volunteers.

Shipherd said there are four residential structures in Manteca that could require a similar mutual-aid response in an effort to save lives in the case of a structure fire that threatened so many lives at the same time.

Firefighters from Manteca City Fire Department, Ripon Consolidated Fire Department, Lathrop-Manteca Fire Department and the Sharpe Depot Defense Logistics Department were all on the scene working together in a dress rehearsal that would save lives should a fire break out in the future.

Chief Shipherd said the training brought the 34 men of the four agencies together as one attack force. They were learning to know each other and to become familiar with the larger complexes in the community.

“The biggest challenge is that you have a lot of people who aren’t ambulatory within that type of residence – it is very manpower intensive,” the chief said.

Shipherd conducted an orientation before the actual training exercise got underway at 1 p.m.   It was held in the small second floor theater upstairs in the Prestige facility with firefighters watching a video of the layout of the building, the hallways, the rooms and the sources of water hookups in the building.

Hoses were laid from standpipes inside four stairwells in the building.

“Every stairwell in the complex has a standpipe that we can hook our hoses up to with the fire department connection where the stairwells draw their water,” Shipherd said. 

A debriefing of the fire personnel was held out in front of the Prestige complex following the training exercise.  Today, Tuesday, another shift of firefighters will be involved in the same drill, Shipherd.  A third shift will be going through another drill on Wednesday afternoon.