Firefighters spent more than two hours working to help salvage personal property and clean-up after a broken water pipe flooded several apartments Sunday afternoon.
A fire alarm was received by the Cape Coral 911 Communications Center shortly before 12:30 p.m. A first alarm assignment of Engine1, Engine 3 and Ladder 6 responded to the condominiums at 4235 S.E. 20th Place. Upon investigation, Lt. Greg LaCoste and his crew from Engine 1 discovered a significant water leak coming from the ceiling of a fourth floor apartment. Firefighters spent the next two hours using salvage covers, squeegees and tools to help remove the water from the fourth floor.
Unfortunately, the water flow could not be stopped before the water began leaking down through the third and second floors. A number of apartments were damaged by the water leak but much of the personal belongings were saved by firefighters who moved furniture out of the wet areas and worked to remove the water from inside the building.
Cape Coral Fire Department
No damage estimate was immediately available but at least three apartments received damage. Additional apartments were also affected due to having to shut off the electricity to the area. A damage restoration company arrived around 2:30 p.m. to take over the efforts of the firefighters. The Red Cross was called but not needed as residents directly impacted by the water damage had other locations to go and stay.
Firefighters perform salvage work at virtually every fire or service call. Whether it is removing smoke from a home due to burnt food, helping clean up from a water leak, or even helping a resident secure the home after a storm, Cape Coral firefighters take the effort to serve very seriously, officials said.
"Our firefighters, like any other firefighter anywhere, protect life and property," said Michael Heeder of the Cape Coral Fire Department. "Whether it is from fire or water, once we know there is no life safety concerns, we turn our attention to saving the structure and its contents."
Whether caused by a burst pipe, a broken water heater or a flood, Cape Coral firefighters offer these suggestions on what you can do immediately to salvage belongings and limit damage:
If water is coming from inside your home, from a burst pipe or water heater malfunction, shut off the main water valve immediately. It's a good idea to make sure everyone in your home knows where the shutoff valve is located.
In a serious water event, turning off the power or natural gas might be necessary to ensure the safety of yourself and your family. In the case of a minor water leak or drip, there probably isn't a need to shut off the utilities, but know how to isolate the power to a particular area from the breaker box.
Do not use any electrical appliances if your carpet or flooring is wet. Use a wet vacuum to remove water, but check the manufacturer's instructions before starting.
Encourage drying by strategically placing fans to effectively circulate air. This is especially important in the first 24-48 hours after an indoor flood.
Move wet belongings and furniture to a dry area. Put furniture on blocks or slide a square of aluminum foil under furniture legs to prevent the wood stain from bleeding into carpeting.
Don't pull up soaked carpet that is tacked down. Carpets can shrink after they've become wet and left to dry out. If you remove the tacks from wet wall-to-wall carpet, it will probably shrink after it dries out and no longer be wall-to-wall carpet. Consult a carpet specialist for help.
Clean your clothing, linens and other washables that have been soaked as soon as possible.
Open drawers and cabinet doors for faster drying. Spread out books to speed drying and prevent further damage.
The sooner you file a claim to report damage, the sooner a company like Safeco can help you get your home and life back to normal.
Don't throw out damaged belongings, especially expensive ones. A claims adjuster may need to inspect them. Also, make a thorough list of stuff that was water damaged as soon as you can. This will help us process your claim faster. It helps to document damage with photos and video.
Save all receipts for any rental equipment, temporary repairs or payments to professional services.
Salvage is one of many topics that firefighters train on during the days in the Fire Academy for new recruits, but it is something that our personnel take to heart.
"Customer service is our priority," said Heeder. "When we promote our department by saying 'We Do It All', we mean it. We know that major damage to someone's home is their own personal disaster, and we will do what we can to help during their time of crisis, whether it is a fire or not."
Source: Cape Coral Fire Department