an unusual task for Madisons ServPro
out water saturated
building took nearly a week
(August 2009) In the days and weeks after the Jefferson
County Courthouse fire, Duane and Nina Schmidt spent much of their time
managing a staff of 11 employees in the massive cleanup effort. The
couple, who own the Madison franchise of ServPro, are used to such messes
caused by water, smoke and fire. But the Courthouse job had special
meaning, considering they are natives of Madison.
ServPro was hired a day after the May 20 fire and immediately went to
work, They hired the Detroit-based Electronic Restoration Services Inc.
to remove, transport and freeze four semi-truck loads and several box
trucks of paper documents and computer hard drives. They got their generators
in place on the Jefferson Street sidewalk on the west side of the Courthouse
and positioned 200 fans throughout the building by 3 p.m. that same
The Schmidts spent the better part of the next month at the Courthouse
removing, sorting and disposing of the buildings contents, and
drying the halls of the historic structure. They did this as firefighters
continued to douse hot spots through Sunday afternoon, four days after
the fire started.
by Don Ward
employee Liz Hill (above)
prepares one of 200 fans for transport
after they had been used to dry
out the halls and rooms of the
Jefferson County Courthouse
following the May 20 fire. (Below)
Left, Madison ServPro franchise
owners Duane and Nina Schmidt pose
front of the Courthouse in June.
Its a big job, but we are used to taking on
such projects, said Duane Schmidt, 51, a Rose Hulman Institute
of Technology-educated engineer who retired early from his previous
job in Evansville and purchased the Madison ServPro franchise six years
ago. They already owned a home in Madison and commuted for a while,
finally moving there to operate the business.
ServPro is a 40-year-old national company headquartered in Gallatin,
Tenn., that specializes in fire and water cleanup and restoration.
The computer hard drives were sent to Indianapolis, where they were
restored and returned within a week. The paper documents have been freeze-dried
in a storage warehouse in Livonia, Mich. In late June a bus load of
county employees traveled there to sort out those documents deemed important
enough to salvage. The rest will be disposed.
Meantime, the Schmidts and their employees hauled out desks, chairs,
tables, filing cabinets and all sorts of office items from all three
floors and the basement, where water stood at times as deep as four
inches, Nina said. The work required ServPro to hire more than a dozen
people from Manpower, while ERS used about 25 people for its job to
remove and haul the documents.
This is probably the biggest job weve done as far as a fire,
Duane said. He cited a block containing five buildings in Lawrenceburg,
Ind., that burned in 2008 that rivaled the job in scope. The Schmidts
also worked on the Madison Elks Lodge and Old City Hall, both of which
burned in August 2006.
Ironically, the Schmidts had already worked on the Courthouse not long
ago when they were hired to remove pigeon dung from inside the cupola.
The Schmidts say they have seen a lot of strange things in their line
of work. On one job they came across a six-week-old dead bull. Yes,
as in cattle. Asked about the strangest thing found during the Courthouse
cleanup, they said they came across a live snake on the second floor.
They joked that Superior Court Judge Alison Frazier must have kept the
pet snake in her second floor office to keep away troublemakers.
Whether its bulls or snakes or other vermin, the Schmidts certainly
have a job like no other. Every job is different, Nina
says. It just makes our life interesting.
Back to August 2009 Articles.