The annual Turlock Fire Department report to the Turlock City Council on Tuesday highlighted the benefits of “regionalizing” the department, but also how firefighters are responding to a rising number of calls with a continued staffing shortage.
It’s been almost two years since the City of Turlock decided to take a “regional” approach to its fire service administration and enter into a contract with the Modesto Fire Department.
In January 2022 City of Turlock approved a five-year contract for administrative services with the Modesto Fire Department. At the time, Modesto Fire was also providing services for Oakdale and Ceres. Near the same time that Turlock entered into an agreement with Modesto Fire, so did the Stanislaus Consolidated Fire Service.
“Some of the value of regionalization is…to provide high-quality fire protection services within the communities that we serve, to increase efficiencies and reduce duplication of services. Along with that is to balance the values and traditions of the community with looking at this agency as a whole,” said Turlock Fire Chief Andrew Hunter to the City Council.
Within Turlock, there are four fire stations staffed with an engine company that includes three personnel. There is also one battalion chief for each shift.
“There are times when there’s a need for additional resources and that’s where the power of regionalization comes in,” said Hunter, who explained that when one city’s entire fire service is involved in a big incident, there are other engines from nearby areas available to respond to calls.
Hunter highlighted a number of challenges the Turlock Fire Department is tackling, including: Aging fire stations and fire apparatus; staffing shortages; and an increase in calls for service.
The chief said the fire department is currently working on getting new fire apparatus to replace aging equipment and staffing is “always a challenge.” There is one firefighter opening and a fire academy is starting up Nov. 7.
There has been a 27% increase in fire calls over the past five years, with Turlock fire calls going from 6,832 calls in 2018 to 8,675 in 2022. According to Hunter, the increase is similar to what other areas of the county are experiencing.
PINK IS BACK
It’s been three years since the Turlock Firefighters Local 2434 were able to sell their signature pink t-shirts in October to support breast cancer awareness and services in the local area. But the firefighters are once again sporting their pink and selling the shirts. They can be purchased for $20 at the Public Safety Facility on S. Broadway, Crivelli’s Shirts & More at 310 E. Main St., at the Turlock Certified Farmers Market from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays on Main Street and at the Turlock Fire Open House from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Oct. 14 at Fire Station #31, 540 E. Marshall St.
They have raised approximately $180,000 over the past several years.