When it rains it pours: Extreme weather inundates Smiths Falls fire department with hundreds of calls for service

The Smiths Falls Fire Department has experienced an “extremely” busy first half of June following storm, and structure fires. Photo credit: Laurie Weir.
Posted on: June 18, 2024

Last week’s storm, heavy winds and rain event caused 187 calls to the Smiths Falls Fire Department on June 14 and another 227 the following day?

Chief Rick Chesebrough shared with council during a verbal report on June 17 that they dispatched 15 calls. 

He said those 15 calls may not sound like it was a busy day or evening for the 15 departments they dispatch for, “but what it generated was 1,093 radio transmissions.”

Chesebrough said it was “relentless throughout the course of the evening.”

That same day, the department responded to a “major gas leak” on Eric Hutchinson Road, south of Smiths Falls, which kept crews busy for two to three hours, “waiting for the gas company to come out and isolate the situation.”

On June 14, it was a follow up to the storm from the night before, with another 15 calls for service, “but there were 227 calls into dispatch during the day and 1,059 transmissions,” the chief said. These calls were for hydro lines down, trees down and roads blocked. 

“On top of that we were also dispatched for a structure fire in Lanark Highlands,” Chesbrough said. 

“Even though the call volume looks like it’s small, the actual activity in the dispatch centre – it far outweighs the volume of calls,” he said. 

During the weather event, the chief said Algonquin Highlands radio tower went down, “so it was non-functional.

“We had to resort to mapping and the Who’s Responding app just to be able to get the calls out for that general area and they had the lion’s share of the calls.”

In Smiths Falls, as of June 17, the department had responded to 29 calls in the first 17 days of the month.

“It’s been extremely busy for our staff,” he said. “We had two structure fires we responded to; one on the Saturday (June 15), then on Sunday morning which resulted brining in the Office of the Fire Marshall for the investigation. It is deemed suspicious.”

As the chief said that file has been turned over to outside investigators, the property has been secured against unauthorized entry. He advised council that the property owner has been instructed to clean up the area following the conclusion of the investigation.

Hometown News
Author: Hometown News