The fire is out. Now what?

You may have asked yourself that question a few weeks back. The following is CROPP’s answer, step-by-step, based on an interview with three generous leaders of Servicemaster Clean, the disaster clean-up company that took the first big steps toward getting us all back into the milking parlor, as it were. The Servicemaster Clean personnel interviewed were: Dave Bell, vice president; Eric Larson, production supervisor; and Greg Elmer, general manager.

Step One

As a CROPP executive on May 15, 2013, you stand, drop-jawed, in the CROPP HQ parking lot staring blankly at the crumpled, smoking heap that just yesterday morning was a significant portion of your headquarters building. (This step lasts approximately 30 seconds or less.)

Step Two

Call the pros.

From left, Greg Elmer, Eric Larson and Dave Bell

From left, Greg Elmer, Eric Larson and Dave Bell


Servicemaster Clean, Disaster Restoration Services, based in Maple Grove, Minnesota (with offices in Madison, Wisconsin), is your go-to on this one. With international scope—having cleaned up gargantuan messes from New Jersey (Sandy) to New Orleans (Katrina) to Thailand (2011 floods) and all sooty, soggy messes in-between—these folks have the know-how and the can-do, not to mention some pretty cool machines.


After the fire, CROPP's weather vane points to "S" for Servicemaster Clean

After the fire, CROPP’s weather vane points to “S” for Servicemaster Clean


But it’s really the people on the ground who make it happen.

Step Three

Turn things over to Servicemaster Clean and a third-party insurance adjuster. Let them walk through the building together to hash-out the details of what can be saved and what can’t.

Out of this little confab flows the SCOPE OF WORK. Now Servicemaster Clean knows what it has to do.




Step Four

Servicemaster Clean sets its primary objective: Do whatever it takes, as quickly as you can do it, to Get CROPPies back into operation!

This means cleaning up the habitable portion of the headquarters building: the east wing. Remove all smoky, sooty nastiness. And that means…

Step Five

Bring in people to work their butts off. Call 70 experienced general laborers from various points in the Midwest to join 30 Servicemaster Clean employees to work ‘round the clock, beginning Friday morning, May 17, in two twelve-hour shifts cleaning out everything from ductwork to carpets to walls, so CROPPies can move back in and take care of crucial business from the HQ no later than Monday morning. Check.

The fire licked at the Gambrel timbers but didn't consume this HQ showpiece

The fire licked at the Gambrel timbers but didn’t consume this HQ showpiece


Be sure to marvel at the unprecedented hospitality and generosity provided by CROPP’s kitchen staff, who go so far as to cater meals at midnight for the night shift. (Consider yourself extra lucky if you enjoyed some of the morels rescued from the cancelled Earth Dinner.)

Step Six

This is largely concurrent with Step Five, but, hey, it’s a different part of the building.

Construct vapor barriers between old and new building sections and install giant fans blowing into plastic tubes (desiccants) to keep all air moving westward. Begin the process of removing EVERYTHING from the middle section of the building floor-to-ceiling, all three floors from the Gambrel to the addition, down to floorboards below and floor joists above to wall studs, in the reverse order of how they were originally installed.


All three floors of the HQ's center section look clean as the day they were framed up

All three floors of the HQ’s center section look clean as the day they were framed up


Recycle what can be recycled—keep CROPP personnel apprised. (Due to pre-determined maximum thresholds for acceptable levels of smoke and water contamination, most everything is either recycled or destroyed. Sorry, it’s a rule.)

Continue to monitor moisture levels in all the building’s remaining materials, using probes and various instruments, until achieving pre-determined standards of dryness for each.

Step Seven

Repeat step six until Wednesday, May 29, when you’ve accomplished the bulk of removal and can downsize to only a 12-hour per day shift. Attend CROPP’s Wednesday evening party in the park. Marvel again at this amazing cooperative. Converse with everyone from the CEIEIO to the volunteer firefighters. Drink one beer. Maybe more. Dance.


The Mily Way Cafe floor survived, in spite of the four inches of water that covered it after the fire

The Mily Way Cafe floor survived, in spite of the four inches of water that covered it after the fire


Step Eight

Complete all clean-out work by Friday morning May 31, and finish construction of “positive chambers,” floor-to ceiling walls of studs wrapped in plastic to serve as a balloon-like vapor barrier to keep the building’s air pressure flowing west, away from the inhabited portion.

Think about your time with the people of CROPP in La Farge. Elmer says, “The biggest thing about making this project run so smooth is that everybody here has been realistic and let us do our job.”

Bell concurs, especially pointing to the collaboration with CROPPie Mark Pfeiffer, facilities services manager. “That guy is solid as they come—from the outset he’s been large and in charge. A real asset to this organization.”

Step Nine

Go home. You’re finished with this phase of the operation. Feel the love and gratitude of all CROPPies as you turn the site back over to the Co-op for the coming reconstruction. (Be sure to drag away one of your co-workers who has, over the course of the past several days, fallen in love with this place and is now frequently referring to himself as a Kickapoogian.)