On The Job - Ontario: Barrie Arson Fire Destroys Row of Historic Buildings

Jay K. Bradish reports on a suspected arson fire destroyed five buildings in the historic Five Points area of downtown Barrie, Ontario.


On Dec. 6, 2007, a suspected arson fire destroyed five buildings in the historic Five Points area of downtown Barrie, Ontario. One hundred firefighters operated numerous pieces of apparatus as eight hydrants, along with a nine-hour drafting operation from a nearby bay, supplied the five million...


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At 11:48, Mitchell requested a third alarm at 11:48. Ladder 3, a 75-foot TeleSqurt with a 1,050-gpm pump, responded with a callback crew of one captain and three firefighters. Ladder 3 was set up on Dunlop Street and placed its aerial master stream into operation. This ladder was supplied by a 300-foot, four-inch line from a hydrant on Maple Street.

Shortly after midnight, Deputy Fire Chief Rick Monkman requested mutual aid. The New Tecumseth Fire Department responded with Pump 25 and Aerial 17, a 100-foot aerial platform with a 1,050-gpm pump, and seven firefighters under the command of Fire Chief Dan Heydon. The Innisfil Fire Department responded with Pump 3 and a crew of four. The Essa Fire Department responded with Pump 1 and a crew of four under the command of Fire Chief Paul MacDonald. The Springwater Fire Department responded with Pump 21 and the 1,000-gallon Tanker 25 with seven firefighters under the command of Fire Chief Tony Van Dam. The Oro-Medonte Fire Department responded with Pump 1 and four firefighters under the command of Fire Chief Scott Cowden.

New Tecumseth Aerial 17 was positioned at the northwest corner of the involved buildings and set up for aerial operations. Essa Pump 4 hooked onto a hydrant at the corner of Ross and Mary streets and fed a 600-foot, four-inch line to Springwater Pump 21, which in turn pumped a 500-foot, four-inch line to Aerial 17. New Tedumseth Pump 25 staged at Barrie Fire and Emergency Service Station 1, Innisfil Pump 3 was staged to provide coverage to the south end of Barrie and Essa Pump 1 was also staged for coverage.

Providing an adequate water supply to the fireground was becoming a challenge with eight hydrants in operation. At 1 A.M., command decided to draft water from Kempenfelt Bay, 800 feet away, to ensure that the volume could be supplied. Oro-Medonte Pump 1 laid an 800-foot, four-inch line from the scene to the bay and drafted to supply Barrie Tower 1. When Oro-Medonte Pump 1 experienced mechanical problems, Springwater Tanker 1 replaced it. Drafting operations continued for nine hours.

Platoon Chief Don Hargreaves declared the fire under control at 11:30 A.M., Dec. 7. Mutual aid units were released at 3 P.M. The last Barrie unit left the scene at 8 A.M. on Dec. 10. Weather conditions at the time of the fire were snowy with 20-degree temperatures and 10- to 15-mph winds. Damage was estimated at $2.5 million to the buildings and $1.5 million to the contents. One firefighter was injured. Forty-three residents were displaced from apartments.

A one-week on-scene investigation was conducted by Barrie Fire and Emergency Service, Ontario Fire Marshal, Technical Safety and Standards Association, Enbridge Gas and Barrie Police Services. Two individuals were charged with arson and obstruction.

JAY K. BRADISH/IFPA, Firehouse® news editor, is a former captain in the Bradford Township, PA, Fire Department. He has been a volunteer firefighter and fire photographer for more than 25 years.