By Mike Williscraft, NewsNow
If anyone tried to get across Grimsby or even downtown for lunch or shopping last Friday, chances are it would have taken at the better part of an hour.
The whole event, which spanned 10 hours for Grimsby Fire Department’s crew, led to a closure of the QEW Niagara bound with many motorists attempting to get to the Canada-USA outdoor hockey game which was part of the 2-18 World Junior Hockey Championship in Buffalo.
“Because of the traffic clog, we had a crew located at the station. Getting to the station to get out on a call usually takes about five minutes, so we do that when traffic is backed up to cut down on any possible response times,” said Deputy Chief Bill Thomson.
As well, with manpower fully obligated both on the call and at the station, Grimsby enlisted Lincoln Fire Department as well to help with an additional pumper and they located a crew at Bartlett and Main to help cut any response times if a call in the east end came in.
As fate would have it, there were three additional traffic accidents – one at Bartlett and Main, one at Ridge and Mountain Street and at the South Service Road.
None involved serious injury, but all fuelled the traffic snarl.
“The accident at Main and Bartlett, the Lincoln crew was right there, so there response was immediate. The one at Ontario Street, the guys in the station heard it
so they were out there quickly.”
Thomson said the fire started in the engine area of the transport and conditions at the time did firefighters no favours.
“The wind was blowing west, so it took the fire right back to the trailer,” said Thomson.
The trailer had 9,000 lbs of plastic bottles in it headed for recycling.
“We appreciate the patience of motorists and residents as health and safety for our staff, the OPP and everyone had to come first with the highway closure: with water on the burning plastics MOE was notified, with water on the highway MTO was notified,” said Thomson.
“We know what a business the QEW is and we want traffic flowing. It was a skating rink out there and we all had to be cognizant of that.”
Just last month, Thomson and Fire Chief Mike Cain were at Grimsby town council outlining limitations of the MTO payment plan for fire departments making calls for QEW related incidents.
It was noted the funds paid out by the province cover roughly 60 per cent of the true cost to the department.
The Friday accident racked up about 200 man hours for firefighters plus additional costs for foam and absorbent.
“We will send out invoices for all that,” said Thomson.
“We would like to thank all the residents for their understanding. It was a long day. As well, we would also like to thank Lincoln Fire as part of our reciprocal service agreement. The use of their tanker shuttle made a huge difference and having them at Bartlett and Main cut down response time there, too.”