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  • Flooded Basement

    I recently learned that FD's respond to and pump out flooded basements.
    Is this a general practice for most departments? Do you use the pumper to pump the water out? It looks like a way to mess up the truck.
    What other services do you provide? Cats in trees?

  • #2
    Some do, some don't. It's common in the smaller volunteer departments because they're more community oriented and we look for any opportunity to go play with the BRT's. I've done many a basement pump out. Let me tell you, being nominated to wade / swim in water up to your chest in a basement in January is very refreshing.

    More urban departments often do not because they don't have the time or resources to handle it.

    No we do not use the apparatus to do it. We use portable gas powered pumps. I've only seen apparatus used to pump a basement once. But thats because it was a hospital, the water was up to the ceiling, and flowing at 1000gpm out a busted 5" main. If it got higher, it would have reached the switchgear room and been REALLY bad.
    Even the burger-flippers at McDonald's probably have some McWackers.

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    • #3
      My department does not do flooded basements, however I know many that do. We will do other misc. things, as the BC feels is appropiate, on a case by case basis. We are not an extremely busy set of companies, so as long as there is nothing more pressing going on at the moment, we try to help out as much as we can.


      And, yes, we have done cats in trees. Unfortunately I have not been on any of them.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by treeguy View Post
        I recently learned that FD's respond to and pump out flooded basements.
        Is this a general practice for most departments? Do you use the pumper to pump the water out? It looks like a way to mess up the truck.
        What other services do you provide? Cats in trees?
        Our department does lots of basement pump outs. We use a portable pump with 2.5" hard suction, we just ordered special basement strainers because the calls are increasing.

        We also clear fallen trees on the roadways. Pretty much, if something happens and no one knows who to call, they call for the FD.

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        • #5
          We do basements - in the rare occasions as basements are not common here.

          Basically if it can't be shot, taken to the hospital, or arrested they call us.

          Cat in a tree.... Never having seen a cat skeleton in a tree I would be hard pressed to deal with it in any way other than a straight stream.

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          • #6
            We do the basement thign quite a bit. Portable pump as long it can stay up, on rare occasions we will back the draft/brush truck up to the house and use it along with the portable pump. Clear trees if blocking the roadway, respond to wires down, we have had the cat in the tree call more than once. Distract the owner and use a BB gun to scare them out usually works, the more sane owners can understand the never seen skeleton statement. As a small rural department, anything we can do that helps the public, helps our budget and image.

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            • #7
              We do a lot of cellar pumping as well, usually during spring thaw. We bought two "trash" pumps for that very purpose. We rarely used our portable pumps for firefighting, and the trash pumps will move an appreciable amount of water should we need them for pumping from a remote water source.

              Some folks express concern about power and electrified water - and it's a valid concern. In my experience folks are concerned about water getting to their furnace (lots of oil burners around here) and will call when it is threatened, well before the electrical boxes are a factor.

              We built a very nice low level suction from a disk brake rotor. It's heavy, serves as something of a strainer (less of a concern with the trash pumps), and will get the water down to less than an inch deep.

              If you build one, be sure to put a handle on top...
              Opinions my own. Standard disclaimers apply.

              Everyone goes home. Safety begins with you.

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              • #8
                We get a few flooded basement calls every spring when the first heavy rains come before the ground is thawed enough to allow gravity drains to work.
                We have a couple of gas powered sucker pumps with 2 1/2 in suction & 1 1/2 discharge that will do big volume nicely.
                We also have a couple of high capacity electric sewerage ejector type pumps which is the preferred method. They move 150 gal minute and will suck down to about 2 inches off the floor. We don't run the BRT for those calls, we load them in a POV and deal with it that way.

                Most of those calls come with a thank you letter and a check, $$$$
                Good public exposure and gratitude.

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                • #9
                  We don't run the BRT either, usually just a utility or the light rescue.

                  And yes, there is usually a grateful "thank you" and a check in the mail...
                  Opinions my own. Standard disclaimers apply.

                  Everyone goes home. Safety begins with you.

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                  • #10
                    Tree, I'd be interested to see a pic of your strainer. Sounds like a great idea.

                    Also, anyone have an SOP that they're using for cellar pumping details? We've done them for years but don't have anything in the form of an SOP.

                    [email protected] if you have any available.

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                    • #11
                      Like most of the previous replies, we pump basements. We have a policy (2 times) and the owner is advised to have a plumber install a sump pump. We will pump basements if the owner has made a reasonable effort to control the problem on thier own. Maybe the power went off and the sump quit working. We have never really charged for this service, but we put a little pressure on the regular offenders, and this keeps the call volume down. The original poster made reference to the possiblilty of using a fire engine to pump basements. NEVER! NEVER! pump anything that has visible mud or debris with the pump on a fire engine. The clearance between the impeller hub and the clearance rings is in the order of 0.004" and mud / sand particles can easily exceed 0.010" Sandpaper grit under water pressure flowing through the gap will rapidly cut the brass impeller hubs and the wear rings. This will result in an inability to meet the UL tests and requires a pump rebuild. One way to remove water from a large basement is to use your jet syphon or place a 1/2" or 3/4" nozzle inside a hard sleeve and jet the water out of the cellar. It requires running hydrant water into the engine (clean) and pumping into the jet syphon. A well designed jet can effectly educt 4 to 9 times the input volume. A 1" tip should remove between 1200 and 2,000 gpm from the basement.

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                      • #12
                        We do not tie up apparatus or manpower to do basement pumps- we do however have two electric trash pumps and rubber 1.5" discharge hose that we will leave with the property owner (they have to sign a liability waiver) if we cannot remain on location. It's up to them to provide a generator (we don't have any portable generators and we dont stay on location if we are needed elsewhere.) As for cats in trees, we will not tie up apparatus or manpower for that, either.

                        PS- Someone mentioned a home-made strainer...We just drop the pump inside a 5-gallon (drywall) pail with 3/4" holes drilled into the sides, and a hole in the top for the discharge hose.
                        "Loyalty Above all Else. Except Honor."

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                        • #13
                          Will run pump-out calls as well. Never use the apparatus pump to remove the water. We have a submersible pump and 2-3 water vacs.

                          Usually mark up available on scene while we're working. If it's a lot of water we'll set up and we (or the BC) will come by later to pick up the pump.
                          So you call this your free country
                          Tell me why it costs so much to live
                          -3dd

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                          • #14
                            I missed the "CAT" remark the first time through. By way of explaination, I've been a D.O. for 30+ years, but in my younger days of service the D.C. called and asked if I could bring an engine to a certain address. The C-A-T was in a maple tree about 20 feet up, and he thought the 24 ft extension would reach nicely. When I arrived, he directed me to park in the driveway under the tree that contained the C-A-T. The branches of the tree extended from near the residence and the opposite side extended out over the street. We placed the ladder and the D.C. climbed up, but couldn't coax the cat to crawl back in the limb. Whereupon I volunteered to use the booster and squirt a little water into the end of the branch where the C-A-T was crouching. Somewhat distrustful of the engine running directly beneath her perch. I applied the water, the C-A-T ran in the limb, jumped on the D.C.'s head, and continued to race at top speed out the oppsite limb. When she reached the end, there was no stopping, so splat.... right in the middle of the street. It gathered itself up and crawled under a nearby furniture store crawl space. The D.C. was very apologetic to the lady who had witnessed the awful deed. Needless to say the D.C. was gunshy about anything to do with C-A-T-S in the future.
                            Comes Christmas Eve and a call from the Episcopal Vicar... We have a C-A-T in the tree in front of the church.... No, we don't need to come. It will come down on its own. Temperature drops to - 20 overnight. C-A-T is frozen stiff as we remove it Christmas Morning while the congregation watches the process. Just cant trust C-A-T-S because their last name is MURPHY.
                            Last edited by KuhShise; 04-01-2011, 02:27 PM.

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                            • #15
                              Here is a picture of the Kochek strainer we just bought. These can get the water down to under 1" and I think we paid about $110 for it.

                              http://www.fireprogramsestore.com/di..._detail&p=1488

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