Emergency Plumbing Response Team

How would you outline your role?

I am an emergency plumbing and drainage response engineer and I unblock drains, repair leaks and fix damaged plumbing and drainage systems. These may be domestic systems, such as those in individual houses or gardens, or commercial systems, including those in factories, offices or shops. Problems in drainage systems vary from rainwater ducts overflowing due to an accumulation of leaves or mud, to seriously blocked sewage systems that cause a potential health hazard.

What are your main responsibilities?

We begin with a weekly office meeting to discuss known practical problems, stock levels and equipment requirements. We then respond to emergency call-outs as required. These involve loading up the transport with all the equipment we are likely to need for each call. These may be packs that fit into the rear of a transit-type van, or larger units with tanks and high pressure water jetting machines on board. We may also use CCTV cameras for surveys of pipes before and during cleaning. The jet pumps operate at very high pressure and can cause a lot of damage if not used properly.

What hours do you work?

I work from 8.00am to 5.30pm, Monday to Friday, and I am on call every third week. When on call I have to be available 24 hours a day but, fortunately, unsociable call-outs are rare.

What is your working environment like?

My usual working environment is my van and the customer’s property. We also have rest and changing facilities back at the office.

Who do you work with?

I work with three other engineers and three office staff.

What skills or qualities do you need?

I have to be practically minded, and have good customer service skills. The technical aspects of the work require good problem-solving and engineering skills.

Why did you choose this type of work?

I wanted a hands-on practical trade when I left school. I was encouraged by my father who worked in the water industry.

What training have you done?

Apart from my NVQ Levels 2 and 3 in Plumbing, I completed in-house training with my employer. Since joining the company I have completed courses in water jetting safety awareness, confined spaces access, no-dig drain rehabilitation techniques, and CCTV drain analysis and reporting.

Do you use any special tools or equipment?

We use high pressure water jets, a CCTV drain camera and electro-mechanical drain cleaning machines.

What do you like/dislike about your job?

I enjoy the variety of working with many people on different jobs, and solving a variety of problems. Being on call is associated with any 24-hour emergency response business, but the rewards can be excellent.

What are the main challenges?

The main challenges are to locate and identify the problems and find the quickest, safest and most economical solutions.

How do you see your future?

Eventually, I would like to move into more office-based work, such as operational management, or work as an expert trainer teaching newcomers to the industry.

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