Recently, we got a call at midnight for water damage at an executive suite office complex. The main fire suppression line in their entryway below the slab had broken and erupted, flooding the whole lower floor. Damage was pretty extensive, and they had three inches of water flooding their entire lower floor.

Tell us about the water damage and how you controlled it.

As soon as we got the call, we dispatched crews and had equipment heading that direction, and we had people on-site within 45 minutes. They had already gotten the fire department to shut the water off by the time we got there. So the water had minimized down just to maybe an inch of standing water, but that’s still an inch of muddy water throughout the entire building. 

It took some time to assess the extent of the damage because there were a lot of office complexes and tenants in the building. So we had to wait for the maintenance crew to unlock those buildings in order for us to go through and check them out.

The customer had been dealing with this for several hours at this point. So we had him sign the necessary paperwork so that we could be on the property, and then sent him home while we dealt with getting everything cleaned up.

We aimed to get the environment under control—extracting the water, drying things out, getting everything sanitized—and buy ourselves some time until the next day, when everybody would be on site to assess what needed to be done at that point. 

The complex was about 15,000 square feet, and with 18-20 people on site it took us about 7-8 hours to complete that initial step.

What are the next steps in the water damage mitigation process?

In general, we have three main pieces of focus on a job like this: the owner’s needs, the building engineer’s needs, and the tenants’ needs. We try to make sure that we have all the information we need to take care of their needs as quickly as possible.

In this case specifically, we met with the owner the next day to review the extent of the damage from what we could see. He was undertaking tenant-related improvements inside, so he had taken a lot of repairs upon himself. So our main goal was to get the project dry for them to continue with their construction. 

Then, it’s all about communication. The building maintenance team are usually the most important people on the project. They provide us access to the building and we strive to communicate with them daily and let them know about the extent of the damage and what we are finding out.

We try to get in touch as quickly as possible with the client’s vendors such as elevator companies or fire suppression people or any others. So we get that information from them, see if they want us to use their people or if they want us to use our staff. The quicker we get that information, the quicker we can move along.

In this instance, the customer wanted us to use our electrician. So we had to have our electrician come in the middle of the night and set power distribution because there was a lot of equipment on the site. 

As a full-service restoration company, we offer all those services for rebuilds and repairs as well as getting the structures dry and any emergency services performed. But since this particular client was already in the process of of doing improvements and repairs, we just got the structure dry for them and then they took it from there. 

What happens to technology in situations like this?

When you have water intrusion, especially on the ground level, the first thing you should do is to ensure your electrical components are safe. In most office complexes, almost everybody has a power strip on the floor under the desk that everything is plugged into. That’s one of the first things we check once we get the water out, making sure we get everything unplugged so that when electricity comes back on you don’t have an immediate short, potential fire, or damage.

We do try to leave it to customers and security companies to get their computers and those sorts of things out of harm’s way. That is why we recommend they have their people on the site as soon as possible. We don’t want to unhook something that shouldn’t be unhooked, or hook it back up wrong. We want the IT professionals to take care of that.

Every facility is different. The power grid is different, the technologies are different, their servers are set up differently as well, so we go in and assess. If their desktop units are sitting on the floors, we let them know they need to get those off the floors.

And if they have a server room that is heavily damaged from any emergency service that needs to be done, we do have a vendor who can come in and take care of all their electronics and technologies if need be. A lot of establishments have their own IT people, but this is a service we offer if they don’t.

The great thing about our side of this deal is that when we have a situation where the customer can’t get in touch with somebody, we work with people that understand the nature of our business, that it’s an emergency. So when we call them, they respond within a reasonable time to help out the customer.

What damage will water cause if it’s not cleaned up quickly?

In a case like this, especially one that involves a high pressure 8- or 10-inch fire suppression line, you have to be aware of what water does to the underground before it breaks the slab. It voids the ground and the slab breaks to release the pressure. The water will wash out so much beneath the slabs. That’s one of the biggest things we’ve got to look out for on a job with high pressure underground.

Just don’t go in there with heavy equipment thinking that everything is okay and concrete will be there. You never know where you’ve got a washout or void or something like that. Be mindful of what you’re doing and how you’re doing it and make sure you’ve done your due diligence.

Round the Clock Emergency Water Flooding Services Tailored for you

At Burggraf Disaster Restoration, we are your one-stop-shop for 24/7 emergency water damage services in Tulsa, Oklahoma and the surrounding regions. Call us at (918) 584-3737 and we’ll be on your premises in no time.