It’s almost paradoxical that Oak Bay Fire Department attends house calls where the issue out of control is water as opposed to fire.
Such is the life of a firefighter when about 50 mm of rain falls in less than 48 hours like it did last Friday and Saturday.
“We attended approximately 20 incidents involving water issues over 18 hours, beginning around 2 a.m. on Saturday morning,” said Oak Bay Fire Chief Darren Hughes.
The OBFD has submersible electric pumps, known as sump pumps, that it keeps in case of municipal emergencies. It was able to lend some of those out to residents during the weekend flooding.
“We work cooperatively with the Oak Bay Public Works Department to assist our residents during these extraordinary events,” Hughes said.
However, those sump pumps are also prioritized for municipal buildings and/or burst pipes and drains. That’s because it’s homeowners who are ultimately responsible for ensuring their drainage is clear and the house is not otherwise compromised.
Sumps are at the ready in case Oak Bay’s sub-infrastructure itself causes flooding which collects in residential homes.
“The fire department’s primary concerns are always life safety, property conservation and environmental protection,” Hughes said. “In the event of flooding, our efforts are generally focused around assessing the impacts on electrical and gas infrastructure and the safety concerns that arise.”
From there, OBFD will focus on assisting with the protection of property and, if applicable, any environmental issues.
In two terms as councillor and now as a first-term Oak Bay Mayor, Kevin Murdoch has seen the issue of water gathering in basement suites as often as the flooded parking lot at Cadboro-Gyro Park.
“One of the problems with several days of rainfall is the ground itself was already quite saturated before Friday’s big [dump],” Murdoch said.
“The biggest takeaway from this is to get your perimeter drains inspected,” Murdoch said. “Most issues are from root intrusion and broken pipes that is unknown until heavy rains arrive. That tends to be the cause of house flooding.”
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