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More Details About the McKenzie Clearwater Fire Department

The McKenzie Clearwater Fire Department operates out of three halls; one truck is run out of the Keewatin fire hall a Pumper, three trucks, one mini pumper, one 1500 gallon tanker, and one rescue are run out of the Clearwater hall. Our first fire boat is run out of the Clearwater Bay boathouse with the second run out of the Marina at Rouault Bay serving McKenzie Portage area.


Approximately one third of our residences are lake only access. We cover a territory west from the Kenora to the Manitoba Border, the CNR tracks to the north with the exception of Ingolf, and all roads south of the CNR tracks with the exception of Reserve land. Our territory is the Largest LSB in Ontario at approximately 875 square KM. We cover all islands in Rush bay, Echo bay and North of a line down the centre Ptarmigan bay and the Islands outside of the Kenora city limits.


We average 70 to 90 calls a year with many of them motor vehicle collisions on highway 17 and the side roads. Fifteen years ago we added Jaws of Life to one of our pumpers to increase our rescue capabilities. We average 15 ambulance assists a year for things like heart attacks where the ambulance will not be dispatched due to water access or in a reasonable time.


Currently we have 10 first responders on staff. We are also a contractor for the MNR and attend all bush fires in our area and take control of the scene until MNR can get a crew to our area. In many cases we handle the whole incident and bill MNR. We average 2 house fires a year and 3 or 4 fires on private property. We run ice rescue, water rescue equipment and we received a snowmobile and rescue sled through a donation, to get to cottages on islands in the winter. Our Mutual aide department is Pellett on the Minaki highway and Kenora runs mutual aid on all calls on Highway 17 where there is extrication required.


Our McKenzie Fire Department started 40 years ago with a Fire Marshal truck stored in the Keewatin fire hall. The Clearwater Bay department started 30 years ago after several major cottage fires that no one attended. A group of local residences lead by Keith Routley approached the Fire Marshal to start the Clearwater fire Department and were given a portable pump package. On the May long weekend of 1991 15 people spent 3 days getting trained in basic firefighting practices with the portable pump package by the Ontario Fire Marshal instructors. In 1993 we built the fire hall at Clearwater Bay and then built the boat house in 1998. In around 1998 the two departments merged to become the McKenzie Clearwater fire Department and progressed to where we are today on an entirely volunteer fund raising basis up to 2012.  After that date our New Local Services Board was enacted to fund our firefighting operations.  The board of the McKenzie Clearwater fire Protection Corporation, a nonprofit corporation, still fund highway rescue, first response, forest fires, ice rescue, water rescue and snowmobile rescue on a fund raising basis.   

We are dispatched by the Kenora Ambulance service that dispatches all fire departments in the area with all of our fire fighters carrying either radios or pagers. We are contacted by our emergency number 1-807-547-2400 as we have no 911 service in our area. We are in the process of mapping all of our approximately 2,500 properties with volunteer donations and then will go to the next step of signage as funds become available.


For more information contact the writer at or 204-981-4031.

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