Thread: Water Removal

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    Question Water Removal

    Were struggling with our 9-1-1 center wanting to enter water removal into CAD and sending an Engine or Truck to assist the public with a broken water pipe in residential and commercial buildings even thopugh weve been doing it for years; they think its the job of a plumber. We carry the tools to shutoff water, and assist with salvage and water removal. How many of you still do this and have an SOG that can be shared?

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    We do emergency water shut offs, and have done so for years. Usually send an engine, but the officer can request the ladder or resuce if needed.

    Why on earth is the dispatch center setting fire department responses?
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    While it is good Public Relations it is not our job. That is why you have a water department / public works. If you are responding to a flooded basement and get a real emergency what do you do? By us if a rig is on a call it is out of service until the officer makes the call that the hazard is mitigated, pt transfered to EMS, etc.
    We will always get dispatched to these non emergency assist the citizen but I sure as heck wouldn't encourage it.
    We will attempt to stop the water then we are gone. If you clean up their home they'll call again when it happens again. Be helpful but no too helpful.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ADSNWFLD View Post
    While it is good Public Relations it is not our job. That is why you have a water department / public works. If you are responding to a flooded basement and get a real emergency what do you do? By us if a rig is on a call it is out of service until the officer makes the call that the hazard is mitigated, pt transfered to EMS, etc.
    We will always get dispatched to these non emergency assist the citizen but I sure as heck wouldn't encourage it.
    We will attempt to stop the water then we are gone. If you clean up their home they'll call again when it happens again. Be helpful but no too helpful.
    Would a flooded basement with a gas-fired heating unit and submerged hot electrical outlets not be a hazardous condition? I guess that "Property Conservation" thing is kinda out of here nowadays. How long does it take to shut-off the gas, turn off the electric and water to the house?

    Don't know about your water deparment but our's responsibility stops at the street side of the meter.

    We don't pump basements here, but we'll make sure any of our taxpayers property is taken care of (stopping the loss.) It might just be good public relations to you, to me it is taking care of the person that bought the Big Red Truck and puts food on my table. Good public relations don't make the evening news or the paper. Bad public relations...

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    We run "Flooded Basement" calls all the time, THAT'S WHAT WE ARE HERE FOR, TO HELP THE CITIZENS OF OUR AREA. I would no more think of telling someone to "call a plumber" than I would tell them to "go to hell". We just plain don't treat people like that. Why? Because we want the support of our Community when we need help with something. Our job is not just putting out Fires anymore, even though we do have our share. We do anything and everything (except Knives and Guns) to help our neighbors when they need help. In turn, when we need them, they're out there for us. A major D.C. Area daily newspaper did a survey, in which they asked the taxpayers "which agency of local government does the best job?" 82% said the FD/VFDs.
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    Depends on the situation. In my area, lots of utilities (water heater/furnace/breaker boxes) are not in the basement/cellar. In those cases, we don't respond to a flooded cellar as there is no hazard (other than a wet floor and possible loss of possessions due to water damage). The water department goes on those calls and shuts of the water supply.

    In the few cases where the utils are in the basement/cellar, we are dispatched. We shut them down, attempt to stop the water flow, and wait for the water department (if not there already) while they shutoff the water to the building. Most times, we are done at that point although sometimes we have removed some of the water to give us easier access at shutting things down.

    and our community loves us too.
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    We used to pump basements for anyone who asked. That stopped when people would call us before a predicted major rainfall and ask to be put on the list, just in case.

    My FD always responds to water calls. We secure the water flow if it is from the water system, shut off utilities, and will assist the property owner in removing water. People who have ground water problems are told they need to install a sump pump.

    We throw salvage covers and make chutes if needed. A lot of damage can occur from a broken washing machine hose in a 3rd floor apartment. It is great customer service, we have the tools and skills.

    If we are responding to a flooded basement or water leak and get a "real emergency" we still respond to the first call, assess it, do immediate actions (shut off water), and clear the scene.
    Last edited by KenNFD1219; 01-25-2007 at 10:11 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by captmike130 View Post
    Were struggling with our 9-1-1 center wanting to enter water removal into CAD and sending an Engine or Truck to assist the public with a broken water pipe in residential and commercial buildings even thopugh weve been doing it for years; they think its the job of a plumber. We carry the tools to shutoff water, and assist with salvage and water removal. How many of you still do this and have an SOG that can be shared?
    We just shut off the water to avoid any safety issues. Salvage used to be conducted by the Fire Patrol...now people must call their insurance co and private contractors since the FP was disbanded.

    People usualy want us to fix the problem...but as you said we aren't plumbers. We just stop it from getting worse.

    FTM-PTB

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    The term is "Water Emergency" They can be either broken pipes, or weather related.

    One of the core missions of the fire service is to protect property.

    How is water damaging a building any different from fire doing so? Within reason, secure the utilities for them. Maybe throw some salvage covers in extreme situations.

    Unless there's a report of arcing & sparking, or water coming through an electrical fixture, we normally send one officer POV to assess the situation. Sometimes there's nothing we can do, sometimes we tell them "when the water gets this high, call us." Sometimes we loan a sump pump, and sometimes I've helped them out by cleaning the leaves away from their basement drain's outlet

    Fortunately, we don't have any "regular customers" -- it's usually people who didn't think to do some maintenance (leaves), had a sump pump fail in the middle of the night, or never had the problem before. Ok, we do have one regular customer -- a commercial property at that -- who will call us when his six sump pumps can no longer keep up...and even at that the problem is related to a long standing battle with the State DOT over drainage from a highway.

    During the day, I also have no problem directing people to the local hardware store or rental place to get their own sump pump. But those options are limited in my area at 2100 hours!

    ====================
    Ok, and our most extreme...most of our town has well water.

    House was vacant, for sale. Neighbor noticed something was up...pipes had froze.

    A/C went on scene, and saw water trickling out a casement window.

    That's pretty perplexing since 99.9% of our town, you'd expect the electrical panel and electric well pump or at least it's controls to be in the basement.

    We stood by for the utility company to arrive to shutdown the power from the pole, and called the realtor to let them know they'd have to get a clean up contractor out there to assess the situation. At that point, no sense in us pumping it out since the damage was done...and it should be evaluated to determine if the water was contaminated with heating oil.
    Last edited by Dalmatian190; 01-25-2007 at 12:15 PM.

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    Our entire district is well water so there is no city water or public works or anything. Generally the water calls we get are people who's pipes froze and it is like Noah's Arc in the house. It is a simple fact that not everyone knows how to stop the water and what to do about it. We do not do post-flood cleanup, rebuild the house, fix the pipes, etc. However, we will shut off the water and pump out the basement if it is deep enough to do so.

    All but one of the flooded basements I've been to in 8 years was only about 1-3" deep. We have a portable pump with a low profile strainer and we'll use squeegee brooms to keep pushing the water towards the pump as it gets low.

    One last years was leaking for a long time. I'm not sure how I got volunteered for it but somehow I was the one taking my gear off, rolling up my jeans, and wading through the water that was up over my knees to shut off the well pump and circuit breakers. Oh my god that was COLD!
    Even the burger-flippers at McDonald's probably have some McWackers.

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    We normally just shut off the water, assess any safety issues and then we also have been known to help squigee the floors or use the wet dry vac to clean up a little. After that it is time for the homeowner or landlord to call a plumber. We normally send the rescue over which carries the water key and wet vac. It gets dispatched as a request for service or flooded house depending on the dispatcher who put it in.

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    On my old volunteer department,we'd send the utility truck no matter what half of the district the call came from.We'd turn off the water and help squeegee as much out as possible,barring any higher priority calls and let the resident or business call the water company.
    If someone called wanting their pool filled,I'd always refer them to the city fire department because it was a misunderstanding from a school visit where someone would say"We can fill a swimming pool with this engine..."meaning that the pump's capacity could do it,not that we provide that service.

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    Regarding tying up apparatus....

    Having dedicated equipment for water removal that can be removed from the rig and left behind is the answer.

    Basements: Portable pump, with hose no longer rated for suppression and pulled from active service. If you get another job, shut off the pump and go. Come back to finish and get your stuff later. Enter liability for people screwing with the stuff while you're gone, though.

    Swimming Pools: Good training opportunity for some agencies that don't go out much, and also a respectable source of a little donation income. Also brings the intangibles of good PR (at my last outfit while filling pools we answered fire safety questions, give out smoke detectors, showed the kids the rigs to recruit them for later years, etc). Not for everyone, but there is a place for it.

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    Swimming pools: In my town, when you put in a new pool and go to fill it, you get a special water meter. You then get charged a special rate based on the gallons used. If you do it from your normal water supply, your household meter will show the big increase and you will end up paying more for it than getting the special meter.

    For those that offer pool filling to the public (for a donation) who pays for the water used to fill the pool or is that a freebee for the pool owner?
    "This thread is being closed as it is off-topic and not related to the fire industry." - Isn't that what the Off Duty forum was for?

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    Quote Originally Posted by captmike130 View Post
    Were struggling with our 9-1-1 center wanting to enter water removal into CAD and sending an Engine or Truck to assist the public with a broken water pipe in residential and commercial buildings even thopugh weve been doing it for years; they think its the job of a plumber. We carry the tools to shutoff water, and assist with salvage and water removal. How many of you still do this and have an SOG that can be shared?
    If we get dispatched, we'll go to shut off water, though I can't recall that ever happening at my department (Not flooded basements, but more like broken sprinkler heads are more common here). I have no problem with shutting off the water and making sure things are safe. But I don't advocate cleaning up the water for the people. We may do a little salvage to protect things that are still saveable, but I hate to take business away from private businesses who specialize in water removal and restoration.

    If we are responding to a flooded basement or water leak and get a "real emergency" we still respond to the first call, assess it, do immediate actions (shut off water), and clear the scene.
    If this happens, I think it's best to go to the "real emergency" and have dispatch send another company to the water leak. This way the citizen still gets taken care of, but the responses are prioritized.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bones42 View Post
    For those that offer pool filling to the public (for a donation) who pays for the water used to fill the pool or is that a freebee for the pool owner?
    Good question, Bones. At my old outfit we were required to keep track of water used on all FD business, suppression, training, etc. Not too hard to do this, all you have to do is count the number of tender/tanker dumps plus initial booster tanks.

    Since we were technically not part of the local government but an independent organization, the township charged us a symbolic but essentially negligible fee for water used in suppression, and something like 1/4 the normal rate for training and miscellaneous stuff (pool fills fell into that category).

    So we passed along this fee to the customer plus a $200 service charge for showing up. It was much cheaper than filling off their tap or burning up their well pump. Township was fully aware, gave us their blessing and considered it part of our training program.

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    Although the excuse isn't as good with plastic tanks and mostly filling from hydrants...

    In the days of rusty steel tanks and always drafting to re-fill the trucks...

    Trust us, you don't want us to fill your pool. When the water clears up after a couple weeks of filtering...the liner will still be stained.

    God that water was nasty...

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    Thumbs up Many Thanks

    Thanks for all the valuable input! Sounds like our S.O.P's are in line with the rest of the nation. We need to review with our 9-1-1 dispatch center on what "customer service" is. The public is our customer and we are the customer of our county's 9-1-1 center.

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    We got sent to water comming through the ceiling at an appartment building yesterday. We identified the problem (broken baseboard radiator line) shut down the water and the boiler, notified the city (no heat) and dispatch put the call into building management. Oh we did move a couch over about 2 feet.
    The people thanked us and we left. I could have ordered a bunch of tarps be thrown or the wet vac brought out, but it is not our job. The residents were happy we stopped the water and they are ****ed at the building owners. A perfect call to me.

    I'm not for blowing off the public but I don't think it is our job to clean someones home.

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    I don't think it is our job to clean someones home.

    At the risk of a threadjack, that's certainly one thing I've seen change over the last 20 years.

    I was trained at the tail-end of the "bare floor" overhaul era where you got all the wet stuff, etc out of the building except in the area you believed was the origin.

    We still do basic salvage as manpower allows -- which means not always.

    But overhaul today is strictly a fire control overhaul and nothing more. I'm sure it would be a stumper for most of our members with less then 15 years to recognize a Smoke Deodorizer if you dug it out of the basement.

    While I'm sure it's at least partly resource driven in other areas (low staffing or the demise of the Fire Patrol), in our area it's driven by the Fire Marshals not wanting any more disturbance then necessary -- initial "origin" isn't always the end of the story as they keep looking.

    So now we do our thing, Fire Marshals do their thing, then ServiceMaster does their thing.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dalmatian190 View Post
    Although the excuse isn't as good with plastic tanks and mostly filling from hydrants...

    In the days of rusty steel tanks and always drafting to re-fill the trucks...

    Trust us, you don't want us to fill your pool. When the water clears up after a couple weeks of filtering...the liner will still be stained.

    God that water was nasty...
    not too many people ask us to fill there pool's for them we leave that to the professional water haulers, besides I don't think they want our water since usually sewer water look's and smells better than the first loads we usually dump at a scene since it come's from lakes here as we have no hydrants around!

    as for pumping out basement's we usually don't have to do it as I believe all the house's or a good majority of them all have sump pump's in there basements around here to take care of the water in the basement's, but if it's too much water as in a case of a flood then we will help them out and get as much water out as we can with portable pumps.

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    Default Perfect Storm

    During the 1991 Halloween Nor’easter, also known as the Perfect Storm. We turned off utilites & pumped basements for two days. We set up a command post at our firehouse & handled all pump out calls from there to leave 911 for “real calls’. The water depth had to be a minimum of 6 inches before we would respond. I still chuckle when I think about one of our officers trying to explain this policy to a caller who insists we come out. He just kept repeating, “ I need six inches” over & over.

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    We assist with water leaks. We get quite a few from sprinklers in hi-rises. We dont have basements, but have pumped out elevator pits in the past.

    As for pools, we do not fill them for people. I dont know about other places, but here water costs $$$. Im all about good PR, but why should someone get 15000+ worth of free water from a hydrant?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave1983 View Post
    As for pools, we do not fill them for people. I dont know about other places, but here water costs $$$. Im all about good PR, but why should someone get 15000+ worth of free water from a hydrant?

    Ditto........ We used to, but we got our baseballs smacked by the Water Department. Someone does have to pay for that water and all of the treatment it goes through....... If they need hose, we may give them a couple lengths of the old stuff to hook to the meter that they get from the water department..........
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    Question Who you gonna call?

    Call the NY Fire Patrol...oh, that's right, they were disbanned. All kidding aside, I was a former patrolman. If you don't have a dedicated co. or apparatus setup or assigned for those duties, I think the water dept. should be handing the situation unless the water "condition" is causing other problems ie. structural collapse, getting into electical panels/vaults etc. We actually fill sand bags during bigger storms and take them personally to the scene to assist the public and prevent further water damage. To me, that's going too far. We'll help you with the initial problem, but once an emergency is not longer apparent or the need for emergency responses, call the water dept., Serv-Pro or whomever. Geez, do I sound like an ex Fire patrolman or one who use to dance with the water god (not the devil, well, not that often) on a regular basis? I should think not. Just kidding brothers. I wish I could help you with an SOP. I think water problem SOP's are in short order and should be taken more seriously. To think career salvage dept's were setup during the last century, you'd think they'd place a bigger emphasis on this type of call...

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