We had a little to-do at our house last night, one that serves as a salutary counterpoint to the irritation that I and many other Seattleites have about how our City government works—or doesn’t (remember the big snow last winter?) Last night, my wife and I discovered that water was flowing into our finished basement from what turned out to be a break in the main water line between our house and the meter. Unfortunately, I and my neighbors were unable to turn off the water at the street with the tools at hand.
So my wife called a plumber, and he said he’d be there in an hour. As you might expect in a case like this, the water was cascading into the basement and running away from the drain. So my wife and I started taking turns using a mop to slosh the water in the direction of the drain. After an hour of this, however, the water was clearly gaining on us and we were more than a bit done in. So when the plumber called to report that he’d be another half hour, I decided that the problem could not wait. I called the Fire Department.
I felt sheepish about doing so, since I was sure they had more pressing situations—real emergencies—to deal with. However, when the SFD dispatcher heard my story he was far from dismissive. He told me to hang tight, they had the solution and they’d be on their way.
As I sat on my front steps listening to the sirens coming closer and closer, I felt chagrined and a bit foolish. When they arrived, my embarrassment was so palpable (I think I started apologizing before most of them were out of the truck) that one of them turned to me and said “Don’t worry about it. This is what you pay your tax dollars for.”
The fire crew immediately took charge, assessing the situation and getting the water stopped. They brought in mop-up gear, vacuumed up the standing water and cleaned up the room. My wife was pretty impressed with how smart, articulate, organized—and attractive—the team was. When she told them we’d been bailing for an hour, one of the crew said “Next time, don’t wait. Call us immediately. You’d be surprised at what crazy things people call and expect us to take care of. Water breaks are not in that category. This is what we do. When it’s a case of your property being at risk, do not hesitate.”
Thanks guys, now we know.
[Above, the brand new (last week) engine of Fire Station 34 arrives.]