When a Fort Lauderdale hazmat crew was out training over the weekend, the firefighters weren’t thinking about an actual rescue.
But they soon were pressed into duty with a vacuum cleaner to save a desperate mother’s nine fuzzy children.
A firefighter noticed the ducks in distress on Sunday at 2700 NW 62nd St. in Fort Lauderdale as a flustered mother duck walked around a drainpipe.
A look down the four-inch plumbing drain revealed her source of anguish.
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A number of ducklings, chirping and pleading for help, were stuck in the tight, four-foot deep drain.
“They could hear them and see one,” Deputy Fire Chief Timothy Heiser said Wednesday in revealing the duck drama. “But you can’t get your arm in there.”
The nature of the pipe, which took a sharp, right-angle turn at the bottom, made it impossible for the firefighters to use conventional rescue methods, Heiser said.
“Usually when they’re stuck, you can just pull the sewer up, flush them out with water or pull them out with a net,” Heiser said.
After some brainstorming, the crew retrieved a “shop vacuum” from the hazmat truck and proceeded to suck the ducks back into freedom, one by one.
“I’ve never heard of the guys using a shop vac,” Heiser said. “So that’s unusual. It was pretty ingenious. It was clever.”
After about 20 minutes of “sucking,” and sometimes retrieving the ducklings from the inside of the vacuum cleaner, all nine were reunited with a happy mother duck.
While the method was unusual, rescuing animals is nothing new for the department, Heiser said.
“It happens all the time,” Heiser said. “Ducks especially. They get stuck in anything from drains to holes.
“The guys were just in the right place at the right time.”