Neighbouring fire departments rally after Rideau Lakes Fire Hall in Portland destroyed by fire

Rideau Lakes Fire Hall Station 2 was consumed by fire on the afternoon of Tuesday, Dec. 21, 2021. Photo by Matthew Tofflemire.

On the afternoon of Tuesday, Dec. 21, 2021, a fire broke out at the Rideau Lakes Fire Hall #2 in Portland, Ontario. Substantial damage was reported including the loss of trucks and equipment, and the cause, origin and circumstances of the fire are currently under investigation.

According to a statement from the Office of the Fire Marshal (OFM), it is confirmed that they have been called in to assist in the investigation. “Our Field and Advisory Services team will also be working with local fire officials to assess what’s needed by the fire service,” the office stated, noting they will not speculate on the cause or origin of the blaze.

Rideau Lakes Fire & Rescue took to Facebook early yesterday morning to thank emergency service partners and the Rideau Lakes Township community for their support. “Stn 2 in Portland will be operational by this morning,” the post reads. “Huge thank you to our neighbouring departments, Brockville fire dispatch, as well as our allied agencies who provided assist! There is no delay in fire response in the station 2 coverage area and Rideau Lakes fire is operating as usual.”

South Frontenac Fire & Rescue also offered support. “The fire station is home,” they said in a social media post. “It’s where we learn, grow and reflect on the situations and experiences that you can only get as a firefighter. Words cannot express our condolences to our neighbours in Rideau Lakes over the loss of Station No. 2 yesterday afternoon in Portland, ON.”

“However, in the true spirit of the fire service, little time has been wasted in getting organized to begin the journey of facilitating spare apparatus, PPE and other equipment from across the region to ensure Rideau Lakes Fire & Rescue continues to deliver exceptional fire protection to their community ??,” the post continues. “You can’t keep a good crew down, good luck RL Station No. 2 on this next chapter in continuing to build a bigger and better FD.”

When asked if Kingston Fire and Rescue (KFR) is assisting with spare equipment or in any other way, they provided the following statement:

“Kingston Fire and Rescue would be more than happy to provide help and support to our fellow firefighters at the Rideau Lake Fire Station. We also know they are being well supported by their local fire service teams who are able to provide them with the immediate resources they need.”

The exact dollar cost of the damage is not yet known, but given the extent of the destruction, it is likely to be several hundred thousand dollars. Matthew Tofflemire, an Ottawa firefighter who was off-duty at the time of the fire and was on scene, has since set up a GoFundMe to also help the recovery efforts.

“As a firefighter myself I understand how large of a loss this is to the department and the community,” he wrote on the GoFundMe page. “This is a small rural town and I want to help raise some money to ensure their community gets back on their feet and gets the equipment needed for life safety.”

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