A rat infestation at the Riverside South fire station over the weekend forced the redeployment of firefighters to neighbouring stations.
Fire department officials were alerted Friday night that rats were seen at the property located at 910 Earl Armstrong Rd., east of the Vimy Memorial Bridge.
Saturday morning it was escalated when the number of rats outside looked like there was an infestation, said fire department Deputy Chief Kim Ayotte, adding that the departments joint occupational health and safety committee was sent to the site to assess the problem.
Some of the earlier reports were that there were as many as 30 rats in the area outside, he said. None of the rats were in the building except there is a vestibule in the front of the building and those are the walls that the rats may have gotten in.
The smell of urine coming from the small vestibule entryway on the administration side of the building also indicated that there was a problem within the building. Department officials later confirmed rodents had built nests on the outside of the building and burrowed into the vestible.
Crews were temporarily relocated Friday night to fire stations in Barrhaven and Leitrim to err on the side of caution while an exterminator came in on Saturday to assess the problem. City staff were also called in.
The stations vestibule was sealed off and work began to completely disinfect the station. Following that, firefighters were scheduled to return to Station 37 on Monday, April 3 at 5 p.m. Until then, the on-duty crew rotated throughout Riverside South conducting training and spot checks to provide coverage of the area and ensure public safety wasnt affected, Ayotte said.
The extermination will continue for the next few days, he said Monday, adding that steps needed to be taken to control the rat population outside. They need to deal with that issue first and then theyll deal with the vestibule, Ayotte said.
It will also be determined if any walls need to be torn down, Ayotte said.
Thats all part of the investigation process, he noted. And thatll take place over the next day or two.
Department officials also said next steps include monitoring the air quality inside the station and an environmental engineer will determine when the building will be operational.
While Ayotte did not immediately know what caused the infestation, a longtime Ottawa extermination expert who is not handling the Riverside South situation said the rat influx is not surprising given construction of a residential community near the station.
They could be nesting in the area and when the area has been disturbed the rats will obviously move, said Kelly Finlan, branch manager of Abell Pest Control in Nepean.
Hes seen this happen before, specifically in downtown Ottawa with the construction of light-rail tunnels.
Theres just been an amazing spike in the amount of rats downtown, said Finlan, who has worked in the extermination industry for 14 years.
Rats leave urine trails which attract fellow rodents to follow, he said, adding theyre also very good at getting into properties no matter how well they are built.
They can go through cement, he said.
Erin McCracken is a reporter/photographer with Metroland Medias Ottawa South News. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.
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