Nine new fire­fight­ers will start work­ing within next few weeks

Manteca Bulletin - - Front Page - By JA­SON CAMP­BELL

The nine fire­fight­ers hired by the Lathrop-Man­teca Fire Dis­trict that are be­ing funded through a fed­eral grant are just weeks away from be­ing on the job.

Ac­cord­ing to Fire Chief Gene Neely, the Staffing for Ad­e­quate Fire and Emer­gency Re­sponse grant, known as SAFER, helped the dis­trict in re­cruit­ing and hir­ing nine fire­fight­ers that will be used to staff a res­cue unit that was paid for with Mea­sure C funds and fire fa­cil­ity fee rev­enues.

Those nine fire­fight­ers, plus two re­place­ments for per­son­nel that no longer work for the dis­trict, are cur­rently go­ing through a three-week full-time fire­fighter academy that will bring them up to speed on every­thing they need to know about how things within the dis­trict op­er­ate. Once that is com­pleted – grad­u­a­tion is set for 6 p.m. on Fri­day, Feb. 16 at Lathrop City Hall – they’ll be brought on to re­in­force ex­ist­ing posts and to staff the new res­cue unit – which pro­vides ad­di­tional re­sources for every­thing from wa­ter res­cue to large ve­hi­cle ex­tri­ca­tions, and car­ries tools that aren’t com­monly found on en­gines or trucks.

“Most of the peo­ple that we hire have some ex­pe­ri­ence with Cal Fire or from a dif­fer­ent agency, so this al­lows us to show them how we do things here and what they’re go­ing to be ex­pected to do,” said Neely, who noted the three-week crash course has been around since he was hired by the dis­trict. “We’re ex­cited about hav­ing these per­son­nel avail­able to staff that new unit that we’ll send out to ev­ery struc­ture fire and high-speed ve­hi­cle ac­ci­dent – wa­ter res­cues or when Tracy calls and needs mu­tual aid on some­thing that’s spe­cial­ized that the unit can as­sist with.”

Given the dis­trict’s unique lay­out and con­fig­u­ra­tion – which in­cludes a rai­l­yard, a fer­til­izer plant, sev­eral large in­dus­trial com­pa­nies, mas­sive ware­houses, fast-mov­ing rivers and both an In­ter­state High­way and a free­way in­ter­change – the flex­i­bil­ity of hav­ing a res­cue unit that can pro­vide ad­di­tional re­sources at a mo­ment’s no­tice, Neely said, is a huge boost for the dis­trict and those who live within it.

And just hav­ing it could end up sav­ing the res­i­dents of Lathrop and the sur­round­ing county ar­eas that are pro­tected by the dis­trict money.

Neely said that dur­ing the dis­trict’s last in­sur­ance ad­just­ment, they were less than a point away from be­ing a Class 2 city – a de­ci­sion that was made be­fore the new fire truck and the res­cue unit were pur­chased. Within months, Neely said, both will be on-line full-time and when the dis­trict has its an­nual ISO eval­u­a­tion, will likely move up a spot which could very well save home­own­ers money on their in­sur­ance bills ev­ery year.

Neely said that the staffing as­sign­ments for the re­main­ing nine fire­fight­ers are still be­ing ironed out – not­ing that not all of them will be as­signed to the res­cue unit. The new truck team and an un­der-con­struc­tion fire sta­tion in River Is­lands gives the dis­trict the need for ad­di­tional per­son­nel.

“Most of the peo­ple that we hire have some ex­pe­ri­ence with Cal Fire or from a dif­fer­ent agency, so this al­lows us to show them how we do things here and what they’re go­ing to be ex­pected to do,” — Gene Neely

To con­tact re­porter Ja­son Camp­bell email jcamp­bell@ man­te­cab­ul­letin. com or call 209.249.3544.

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