Hydro-excavation Of A Landmark For Greenfire Management Services, Llc

Greenfire Management Services, LLC is a Native-American owned construction company based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

With decades of experience in preconstruction and construction management, Greenfire acts as an extension of their clients’ teams from early project conceptual planning through project completion.

Project Background

In October 2018, Greenfire reached out to Great Lakes Power Vac for specialty excavating services. The job consisted of performing hydro-excavation on an elevator shaft in the basement of a 150-year old Milwaukee landmark church undergoing renovations to be converted into a wedding and event venue.

The process of repurposing the former St. James Episcopal Church involved adding a basement kitchen/catering space, a first-floor chapel, and a third-floor banquet area.

In order to meet current ADA standards, access to the banquet facility necessitated the addition of an elevator. The mechanical equipment for the elevator also had to be installed below grade – hence the use of specialized excavation equipment.


The hydro-excavation truck, itself, had to be stationed outside in a small parking area alongside the historic church. This lot could only be accessed from a narrow city alley that ran behind the building.

Getting the truck into position proved to be both challenging and time consuming. It required expert maneuvering skills to place the vehicle in the correct spot.

Another major obstacle was dealing with hard packed “type A” soil (very hard clay material) that slowed the excavation down considerably and required working closely with the customer to negotiate a change order for management of the added labor hours needed to complete the scope of work.

The project also required excavation to a depth of 6 feet in the area of the elevator shaft, meaning we needed to be absolutely certain that safe practices were adhered to throughout all phases of work.

Great Lakes Power Vac’s Solution

To overcome these challenges, Great Lakes Power Vac assigned our most experienced hydro-excavation crew to ensure all demands and remote excavation requirements were met.

Our skilled industrial cleaners utilized a combination of flexible hose and PVC pipes to reach from the truck boom, through a basement window, and across the basement floor to the excavation site.

With over 20 years of experience, our driver was able to safely position the vehicle in the tight space allotted each day and swing the truck boom into place without damaging the historic landmark or surrounding property.

We also worked closely with the customer engineer and site superintendent to successfully excavate the hardened and compacted clay to proper depth requirements without incident or undue delays.

In order to keep personnel safe at all times throughout the process and meet OSHA trenching guidelines, the Great Lakes Power Vac team employed a benching technique to ensure that workers could enter the excavation site, install forms, and pour concrete without the fear of trench collapse.

It’s always tricky working on old buildings – especially those with historic value – but our excellent crews at Great Lakes Power Vac operated efficiently to ensure a very successful outcome.

Daniel Grams, Project Engineer for Greenfire expressed his satisfaction saying, “We were very pleased with GLPV’s planning and execution from the initial quote to driving off site. They demonstrated commitment to quality work and people, safety, and timely communication during what was a rather complicated excavation”.

Need Powerful Hydro-Excavation Support?

At Great Lakes Power Vac, we offer high-performing hydro-excavation and underground services to safely excavate around utilities and other sensitive underground structures.

This method is non-destructive and has the advantage of being effective even with frozen ground. If your company is in need of powerful hydro-excavation support, be sure to contact us online today or give us a call at 800.822.4887.


Contact us today to learn more about our services or to find out how we can help your organization.