'It will always feel like an eternity': The Halton Hills firefighters' response to the raging fire that destroyed a Georgetown home

A fire can double in size in only a minute.

By the time the first bystander had called 911, it would take only three minutes before the entire garage of 72 Forsyth Cres. was engulfed in flames.

“When the emergency is happening to you, we can’t get there quick enough,” said Harry Olivieri, fire chief of the Halton Hills fire department. “If we get there in a minute and a half, to that person it will always feel like an eternity.”

The National Fire Protection Agency benchmark for response time is 10 minutes 24 seconds. On Sept. 10, the first truck arrived in seven minutes 45 seconds.

"If it weren't for efficient and effective guarding of exposure, the damage could have been much worse," Olivieri said during a Sept. 16 community and corporate affairs committee meeting for the Town of Halton Hills. "I certainly wish there was a different outcome, but our crews did what they had to do and dealt with the challenges."

From a numbers standpoint, the Halton Hills fire department has 38 full-time staff, with a capacity for 96 part-time members. On the scene on Sept. 10, 25 members arrived in 10 vehicles. The average age among members is 41. The Fire Prevention Act requires firefighters to retire from the service at the age of 60.

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