Winnipeg's acting fire chief has identified four neighbourhoods of greatest concern for freezing pipes.

They are:

  • Earl Grey
  • River Heights
  • Fort Rouge
  • North End-St. Johns area.

Bill Clark said about 20 support staff delivered notices of the potential for frozen pipes to just over 3,000 residences in those areas.

Staff members met homeowners face-to-face to tell them how to prevent or minimize major problems.

"In terms of getting in front of the tsunami, rather than being under it, is we took action to be able to ensure that we notified the residents and the properties at risk," he said.

Meanwhile, city councillors will gather at a special meeting Monday to get the latest information on the pipe situation.

Coun. Brian Mayes, chair of the protection and community services committee, said councillors will hear directly from the water and waste department. He's been hearing from residents in his St. Vital ward all weekend.

"We're doing the best we can with the resources we've got and people are going around the clock, so we've got to keep, my preference would be to avoid calling in the army and avoid putting people in hotels and just try to get the service restored and get the water to people in their homes," Mayes said.

The city says there are now 868 properties on the list with pipes that need to be thawed, and close to 5,000 more properties are at risk.

The average wait time to have pipes thawed is 17 days.

Randy Hull, the city's emergency preparedness coordinator, said the challenge is trying to find more of the large electric thawing machines, so crews can get to people's homes faster.

“Saskatchewan, Alberta, the Yukon, Northwest Territories, Ontario — they have come up with no machines that are available," he said.

"There is a few staff that can come from different jurisdictions but, we don't need the staff, we need machines.”

Right now, three of the large electric thawing machines are being used in Winnipeg.