Volunteers praised by Orléans resident


June 26, 2016

Orléans resident praises volunteers after fire


Ron Ratcliffe was enjoying some music in his basement on Melette Crescent in Orléans on June 18 when he heard glass shattering, followed by a man shouting for him to get out of his house.

“We got out and started looking around and I thought, ‘Holy s–t — this place is burning,’ ” Ratcliffe recalled.

Three units just a few doors down from Ratcliffe’s were engulfed in flames that afternoon. While Ottawa Fire Services made quick work of the fire, Ratcliffe said it was the help from volunteers that stood out for him that day.“

(The Salvation Army) had a truck parked outside and the guy came around and said, ‘Do you live here? Would you like a hamburger? Would you like a drink? Do you need a blanket? Do you need to go lie down?’“I couldn’t believe how they looked after us,” Ratcliffe said.

The Salvation Army’s canteen services truck is manned by retired Ottawa firefighters who are on call 24-7 from the Ottawa Police Services and OFS whenever a disaster situation arises, said Craig Dunbar, emergency disaster services co-ordinator for the charity.
Ron Ratcliffe, Melette Crescent resident whose home was affected by the fire that engulfed three other units in the same row house.

Ron Ratcliffe, a Melette Crescent resident whose home was affected by the fire that engulfed three other units in the same row house on June 18, says he couldn’t believe how volunteers looked after those forced out of their homes that day.

“We have a commercial coffee maker on it. It’s always stocked and ready to go to serve hot meals on very short notice,” said Dunbar, who was in Orléans that day helping out Ratcliffe and his neighbours.

Other appliances include two stove burners, a grill, a microwave and a freezer chest and cupboards that are filled with plastic foam cups, plates and plastic cutlery.

Another Salvation Army vehicle that was deployed to the Orléans fire was the victims' services truck, which is a refitted ambulance donated by the City of Ottawa.

“We carry clothing, teddy bears for kids, hygiene products, diapers, footwear and in the winter time we carry coats,” he said.

The truck is also equipped with a television and DVD player to let children watch movies to get their minds off of traumatic events they might have experienced, he said.

The scene after the fire in Orléans on Saturday, June 18, 2016.The scene after the fire in Orléans on Saturday, June 18, 2016. AIDAN COX 

Ratcliffe’s home was damaged by the smoke and he was not able to return home that evening, but the Red Cross set him up for a few nights at the Lord Elgin Hotel.

“(The Red Cross) made all the arrangements for us to go to a hotel. They even took us to the hotel. It’s amazing,” he said.

Ottawa Fire Services has maintained a strong and lengthy relationship with volunteer organizations, said Danielle Cardinal, information officer for the city’s emergency and protective services.

“(The volunteers) provide a large support role because our firefighters can then focus on the fire operations and know that these persons are being taken care of.”

“And the canteen is very helpful for our crews who are on-scene for extended periods of time. In the winter months, they appreciate a warm beverage and somewhere to warm up, and in the summer months they appreciate a cold beverage and somewhere to recover and refuel,” Cardinal said.

Reflecting on the day of the fire, Ratcliffe said that he thinks the volunteers deserve a bit more recognition.

“People should know that these people give their time to help out people that are in distress. I work part-time at Home Depot because I’m semi-retired and I’m even thinking of donating my time to them,” said Ratcliffe, who will be staying with a friend for the next six weeks.

Cox, A. (2016, June 26). Orleans resident extends praise to volunteers after fire. The Ottawa Citizen. Retrieved from http://www.ottawacitizen.com