Last Tuesday, Jan. 21, Niagara-on-the-Lake Fire Department had two calls, just 15 minutes apart, to structure fires.
Fire Chief Nick Ruller says the situation of overlapping calls might occur about a dozen times a year, but to have two structure fires at the same time is rare.
Fortunately, neither were serious, he says.
The first call came in as an alarm at the Pillar and Post, and shortly after, that was determined to be a fire in the kitchen. Given the location of the fire at a hotel restaurant, firefighters responded with trucks from the Old Town, Virgil, St. Davids and Queenston, says Ruller.
But once the kitchen’s fire suppression system activated, the blaze was quickly extinguished, he says. While some firefighters stayed to clear the smoke and reset alarms, some resources were quickly redirected to a firelane, where the second structure fire was reported. It turned out to be a storage box for firewood that had been lit by an ember, and was also quickly extinguished.
Resources from Glendale, Virgil, St. Davids and Queenston had attended, Ruller says, given the location, where access could be challenging.
About 60 to 65 firefighters were out that day, and all trucks, he says.
“Both had the potential to be catastrophic events,” he added — one in a hotel that’s an old building, and one in a geographically challenging location.
If the department finds itself in need of additional resources, “we would request mutual aid from neighbouring departments to assist,” Ruller says.
“Mutual aid is common throughout the Niagara region, and many resources can be shared as needed.”
It is more common for NOTL to call for an additional tanker truck for rural water operations, he says, and Thorold is the closest with a tanker that could come to NOTL’s assistance.