The Lathrop-Manteca Fire District will soon be adding nine firefighters to its ranks to staff a rescue unit that will help provide services to the sprawling district.
And initially it will end up costing them virtually nothing.
For the second time in the last 10 years, the district has been named the recipient of the staffing for adequate fire and emergency response – or SAFER – grant that will provide $2.1 million worth of personnel funding to help the district transition into full-time staffing for the River Islands fire station now under construction.
Until then, according to Battalion Chief Larry Madoski, the new hires will manage Rescue 30 — a piece of apparatus paid for with Measure C proceeds that will augment the district’s existing inventory by carrying specially-designed items unique for the sorts of scenarios that a district like Lathrop-Manteca needs to be able to manage.
From hazardous materials moving through the community on rail and by truck on a daily basis and the vehicles required to transport them increasing in number on and across roadways, specialized equipment necessary for extrication and management are required and are not carried on traditional fire engines or trucks because of space issues. With an increasing number of manufacturing facilities and more on the horizon, Madoski said that the rescue unit will provide firefighters with the tools necessary to handle just about anything that they come across while in the field – cutting down on the amount of time necessary to call for them in the event of a large-vehicle extrication or industrial accident.
“Lathrop has become a hub for the movement of goods and we’re seeing exponential growth in that category and have identified a need to be able to service those specialized types of scenarios,” Madoski said. “We receive the types of calls where people are victims before they are patients – people who are trapped by or beneath industrial equipment and machines – and we need to be able to respond to those types of calls with the tools that will allow us to extricate those people and render aid as quickly and efficiently as possible.
“We’re at a crossroads right now where we’re seeing a lot more of these types of accidents, and moving forward this is something that will provide an additional layer to the services that the district can provide its residents and those who reside within its boundaries.”
Until earlier this summer crews responding from Lathrop-Manteca fire houses to River Islands – where the majority of the residential growth with Lathrop’s city limits is taking place – had to drive all the way out to the main entrance of the housing development. That changed with the opening of the Bradshaw’s Crossing bridge, and Madoski said that response times will improve even more once the new location – which has received the necessary building permits – is constructed and staffed.
But the grant isn’t completely free of strings. The district will have to match some of the funding for the three-year grant, and is responsible for the salaries and benefits of the employees hired once that period of time has passed – something could require additional Measure C funds or other funding mechanisms to balance within the budget.
Madoski said that the combination of the staffed rescue unit and having available firefighters to staff full-time what will be named Station 35 helps fulfill the district’s commitment to providing the highest level of safety and protection possible for anybody who lives or works within its boundaries.
“Every citizen that lives or comes into Lathrop deserve to have the best service that we can provide while maintaining responsibility for the public buck,” he said. “We believe that this grant is a financially responsible move that will enhance our service while at the same time being cognizant of the fact that we’re operating with the public’s money.”
The nine firefighter positions are scheduled to be filled in January of 2018.
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