Sewer backup forces fire station to close


A Seymour fire station is closed for possibly the next three weeks after running into a foul situation late last month.

On Sept. 27, a pump at a sewer lift station failed, causing sewage to back up into Fire Station 3 on Meadowbrook Drive behind The Home Depot.

The station was closed immediately to protect the firefighters, said Fire Chief Brad Lucas.

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“We’re downhill from the lift station, and we all know what runs downhill, and it did,” Lucas said of the sewage. “It came through every floor drain in the building.”

He said a cost estimate for the repairs is not available at this time, but the city’s insurance will cover the cost.

The backup caused extensive damage to the interior of the station and has temporarily displaced the firefighters and trucks housed there.

Station 3 has two firetrucks, including Ladder 3, and a reserve fire engine.

“We moved Ladder 3 to headquarters and moved Engine 1 to Station 2, and both our reserve engines are out at DPW (Department of Public Works) right now,” Lucas said. “The guys are filling in. We’ve got pretty crowded stations right now, but we’re making it work.”

The situation also slows response time to calls on the east side of the city, he said.

“I know we’re going to have a little bit more response time to the east side of town,” he said. “But that’s where we were 14 years ago before we had the station. We’re doing the best we can, and we’ll get through it.”

Restoration Express, a remediation company out of Indianapolis, came down the evening of Sept. 27 and started to disinfect the building, Lucas said.

“The next day, they came in and started cutting drywall off 2 feet from the floor,” he said.

It wasn’t until Oct. 4 that the city’s insurance adjuster came down and approved all of the work that needed to be done, Lucas said.

Besides the drywall, all of the flooring will have to be replaced along with cabinets in the kitchen and laundry room.

“We had this sewage everywhere in the building,” he said. “The bedroom was the only room that didn’t have any in it.”

Lucas said the next step in the cleanup, which was supposed to take place Tuesday, is to use 160-degree, high-pressure water mixed with detergent to clean all of the floors.

“That will kill all the bad things it needs to kill,” he said.

Once it’s dry, they will start rebuilding.

Lucas said his goal is to get the firetrucks moved back in first because the engine bay side of the building is easier to clean than the living quarters.

“Hopefully by about Thursday this week, we’ll move the trucks back in,” he said. “That will be isolated from the other part where they’re doing the other work.”

He’s confident in the plan but knows it will take some time to get things back the way they were.

“They’re thinking maybe three weeks we’ll be back in,” Lucas said. “I hope that’s the case.”

Work to install a sewage backflow preventer has already been scheduled, he said.

Mayor Craig Luedeman said he plans to have talks with The Home Depot and the holding company that owns the property to talk about the future of the lift station.

“That’s part of the problem,” he said. “Technically, it’s a private lift station that we dump into, and as a city, we can’t go in and fix it.”

Lucas said the lift station hasn’t been fixed yet because the owner is still waiting on a pump, but the city’s wastewater treatment employees have been pumping it out twice a day to make sure another backup doesn’t happen.

Luedeman said he would like to see the city accept the lift station so it can maintain it.

“That’s the process we’re going to start now,” he said.

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