Randy May knows just how valuable Manteca Fire Department’s Seniors Aiding Fire Effort (SAFE) volunteers are when it comes to helping keep city residents safe.
May, who retired as a Manteca Fire battalion chief after 30 years of fire service, commands the 18-member SAFE unit founded in 2006.
“When they do things like the daily mail run, it helps keep fire engine crews in their service territories,” May noted.
The “mail runs” between city hall and the four fire stations can take as long as two hours a day.
May noted that by having SAFE volunteers handle it instead of firefighters, it keeps engine companies in position to allow the quickest possible response to medical emergencies, vehicle accidents, and fires.
The SAFE volunteers also:
perform business re-inspections.
man department informational booths at community events.
assist with the fire awareness in the schools effort.
conduct the second inspections for weed abatement citations that numbered 800 last year.
assist with office filing.
handle fireworks booth inspections during the seven days non-profits are allowed to sell them in Manteca.
plus other support activities.
The SAFE volunteers do not assisting with actual firefighting or rescue efforts. They do, however, assist with necessary support during two-alarm fires.
That is when Bob Pfirmann — who has overseen a major volunteer fire department in New York State before retiring and who has been with the fire service in various capacities for 67 years — will respond by going to the station and collecting water, towels, and ice to assist in keeping firefighters cool.
Volunteers will tow the fire safety trailer that gives students a realistic experience of what to do in a house fire and other emergencies.
They are versed in all aspects of the fire education program so if a call comes in that pulls away firefighters conducting the program they can step right in and continue teaching students.
The SAFE command structure consists of volunteers Lois Page, Bob Pfirmann, Mel Picanco, and Bob Scharmann.
May said SAFE is always looking for more volunteers.
Volunteers must be 50 years or older. They are required to go on two ride-a-longs a year with firefighters to get a better understanding of what firefighters deal with on a day-to-day basis.
Applications are available at any fire stations or can be downloaded from the City of Manteca’s website under the fire department pull down.