Arrow-right Camera
News >  Features >  Washington Voices

Blocked toilet among fire calls

Spokane Valley firefighters say a woman drinking red wine straight from the bottle called them to the Broadway Apartments last Saturday and yelled at them to clean up the mess from a toilet that overflowed.

They had been told to expect an overflowing bathtub when they were called to the apartments at 11910 E. Broadway Ave., about 12:40 a.m., but a dispatcher said the woman was hard to understand.

Deputy Fire Marshal Bill Clifford said the toilet had stopped overflowing when firefighters arrived, and the woman was “given options” on how to deal with the mess.

“They instructed her that this was not the responsibility of the Fire Department, and she became more upset,” Clifford said.

At that point, she was told firefighters would bring police with them if she called again. Police don’t clean up toilet messes, either.

However, firefighters do handle water emergencies. If someone can’t close a valve and stop a leak, “absolutely then give us a call and we’ll come out,” Clifford said.

In another of the 179 calls in the reporting week that ended Wednesday night, firefighters closed a valve to stop a leak in a toilet supply hose.

A crew also responded to a report last Saturday afternoon that a fire hydrant at 11700 E. Grace Ave., was spraying water, but found no leak when they arrived.

One of six structure fires caused an estimated $50,000 shortly before 6 a.m. April 9 to the exterior and attic of a home at 2309 S. Herald Road. Clifford said a resident had been smoking outside the house, and a discarded cigarette ignited some debris. No one was injured.

Five other structure fires were minor.

Firefighters extinguished a vehicle fire and a small grass fire on Interstate 90 in the Liberty Lake area about 12:45 p.m. April 9.

Among eight reports of brush fires, five turned out to be illegal trash fires. Clifford urged residents to check burning regulations by visiting the department’s Web site,, or calling the department at (509) 928-1700.

In other calls, firefighters responded to 147 medical emergencies, nine false or minor automatic alarms and six vehicle accidents that sent two people to hospitals with minor injuries.

John Craig may be contacted at