Winnipeg firefighters are asking those who are able to drive to fire halls to pick up their own water do so, so they can concentrate on delivering to seniors, shut-ins and others who can’t.
"We are absolutely getting swamped with water delivery requests," said Alex Forrest, president of the United Fire Fighters of Winnipeg.
With more than 800 Winnipeg homes and businesses with frozen pipes and no running water, the city has offered the services of the Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service to deliver potable water to them in 20-litre jugs.
"We are proud to help out in times of crisis but we have so many seniors, shut-ins and others who need our assistance it will help us out if able-body people can drive to the fire hall and pick up their own water," Forrest said in an email to the Free Press."That way it will allow us to get to the people who need it the most."
For those who have already contacted the city to report frozen pipes, city staff is phoning them to inquire if potable water is required at their home or business. For those who require potable water, arrangements will be made with the Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service to have water jugs delivered to them.
When the water is delivered, a paramedic will determine if the loss of water is causing any public health issues, the city said in a news release Saturday. If there is a health concern, the resident will be referred for further follow-up. The city said there had been 162 water deliveries already and another 199 planned for Saturday.
"We have some people we are delivering water to who have not had water in days and cannot get water themselves," said Forrest.
The city said this weekend 3,240 properties have been identified as being at risk of frozen water pipes. City workers are contacting property owners by telephone, and uniformed members from the Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service will be hand-delivering notices to the at-risk property owners.
Those who receive a notice are being asked by the city to start leaving one cold water tap running at a trickle all the time. Those water pipes at risk of freezing will remain vulnerable over the next few months.
If property owners do not receive a notice, it is important that they do not run their water to prevent problems with the city’s water and sewer systems, like sewer backup, basement flooding and sewage treatment plant upset, the city said.