All three of the positions will be shared and jointly funded by the city of Patterson and West Stanislaus, which protects the city of Newman and the unincorporated areas between the two cities, including Crows Landing and Westley.
Patterson Fire Department hired its first full-time firefighters in 2005 and now employs 12 regular firefighters.
The fire departments have handled a growing number of calls as the city expanded by more than 10,000 residents during the past 20 years, Fire Chief Steve Hall said. Hall serves as chief of both fire departments.
“The workload has increased dramatically,” Hall said this week.
To cope with the extra work, the departments will add a fire prevention officer and a fire training officer, who will also serve as a captain. The search for the training officer will begin with employees of the department. Officials are looking outside the department for the fire prevention officer.
According to Hall, both officers are expected to begin their duties by Jan. 1.
Beth Lawwill, a 21-year employee of the fire departments, has been promoted to administrative manager. In that role, she is responsible for accounting and organizing, planning and executing the departments’ budgets, Hall said.
The Patterson City Council approved the three positions with a 3-0 vote during a regular meeting Sept. 4. Mayor Luis Molina and Councilwoman Deborah Novelli and were attending the League of Cities conference in San Diego.
The fire training and fire prevention officers will handle duties such as state and local training mandates, performance standards, emergency medical service requirements, hydrant maintenance, community outreach, public education and CPR courses.
Until officers are hired, division chiefs Jeff Breasher and Jeff Gregory are handling many of those duties, in addition to running and maintaining Patterson’s two stations and West Stanislaus’ five stations.
Breasher also handles daily operations of both departments, while Gregory manages maintenance of equipment and stations.
The fire departments have added additional command staff and increased volunteer and career firefighters. As duties and responsibilities have changed within the department, so has the need for an administrative manager, Hall wrote in a report to the City Council.
The fire training officer’s pay ranges from about $56,000 to almost $69,000, of which the city will pay 60 percent and West Stanislaus will pay 40 percent. The fire prevention officer’s pay ranges from $48,000 to $59,000 and will also be split 60-40. The administrative manager’s pay starts at $53,000, with the city paying 55 percent and West Stanislaus, 45 percent.