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The big save: $6.9 million
Manteca fires up in 2010; property losses down
One of the 143 fires Manteca Fire Department responded to during 2010. - photo by Photo by Ronald Ramos Jr.

The number of fires in Manteca increased by 17 percent in 2010 while overall losses were down $1.7 million from the previous year.

That’s just one snippet addressing the quality of fire service in Manteca that’s contained in the just completed annual report for 2010 issued by Fire Chief Kirk Waters.

The drop in property losses despite an increase of fires in 2010 could be attributed to the fact it was the first full year Manteca had four engine companies in service with the new 100-foot aerial platform truck housed at the South Union Road station. The bulk of the $1 million tab for the aerial platform truck was paid by fees collected on growth.

The 143 fires in 2010 caused $1.2 million in losses with firefighters being able to save property valued at $6.9 million. It was the most fires in the past five years. In 2009, there were 129 fires with $2.9 million in losses and $27.1 million in property saved.

The department has saved property valued at a combined $125 million in the last five years while losses were pegged at $10.5 million from 612 fires.

The vast majority of calls for service the fire department receives, though, are not for fires. Actual fire calls accounted for just 143 of nearly 5,000 emergencies with the largest chunk being medical related.

Manteca continues to have one of the lowest ratios of firefighters per 10,000 residents on Northern California. Manteca has six per 10,000 residents while comparable-sized cities such as Turlock and Davis have seven, Folsom has eight, and Lodi as well as Milpitas have nine.

Manteca overall in terms of mutual aid calls that include fires, vehicle accidents, hazardous material incidents, and emergency medical service with Lathrop-Manteca Fire District, Tracy Fire and Ripon Fire has given mutual aid 53 percent of the time and received mutual aid 47 percent of the time during 2010.

The department was able to improve its percentage of getting an engine on the scene of a call within five minutes to 82 percent of the time in 2010 as opposed to 80 percent of the time in 2009. The national standard is 90 percent of the time to have units arrive within five minutes of a call being received. The five-minute goal is a mantra in fire service as irreversible brain damage begins within five minutes of a sudden cardiac arrest while house fires double in size every 60 seconds and after five minutes contents in a room will often spontaneously combust.

In terms of having an effective response force on the scene within nine minutes of the initial fire call, Manteca reached that goal 50 percent of the time in 2010 as opposed to 32 percent in 2009.

Both improvements can be attributed to the fourth engine company being in service last year and not in 2009.