When you’ve been involved in a fire, it’s overwhelming. Not only are you dealing with a seemingly insurmountable loss, but there are restoration companies and public adjusters that have scanners in their offices to capture fire leads and swarm around you like vultures. For the record, it’s illegal in the state of Florida for anyone to approach you during this time until the fire marshal has cleared the area.
Once that’s done, it’s important that anything remaining inside that wasn’t consumed by fire is protected. This could include boarding up of windows and/or tarping the roof if the fire left any openings. Windows would be covered by pieces of plywood and attached to the exterior of the house to prevent theft and further damage from inclement weather. Any open areas of the roof would be covered by tarps and secured using sandbags to prevent further damage from inclement weather.
This is often one of the more difficult aspects of dealing with a fire. A crew would come in and remove any building materials that are loose or have fallen, as well as personal belongings that are not able to be salvaged. Anything that was ruined by the fire needs to be documented with photographs before being disposed of that include the manufacturer information if possible.
People often don’t think about the fact that much of the property and your personal belongings will also be ruined by the water used by fire crews to put out the fire. A lot of the damage caused to personal items is actually a result of water damage and not the fire itself. These items should be documented with photographs as well before disposal.
Items damaged by smoke but still salvageable can be cleaned by a content specialist company. There are numerous dry cleaners and specialty cleaners that can often help save certain items if cleaned properly. This often requires special chemicals and equipment.
Walls, ceilings and other building or finishing materials, such as cabinets, vanities, etc that have not been burnt by fire will need to be cleaned and dried thoroughly. Again, special chemical compounds designed to remove soot are required to prevent staining after the space has been repainted. When done incorrectly, stains and odors are likely to reappear after a short period of time.
Getting rid of the smell after a fire is one of the more difficult tasks when it comes to fire damage restoration. There are many factors that contribute to the smells such as size and duration of the fire, size of the space and the items that are actually burning. When any sort of chemicals are involved, it adds a whole other element in the difficulty of permanently removing the odor after a fire.
When it comes to removing the smoke smell from personal items, it can be done by anyone with the right combination of chemicals such as detergent and white vinegar that are easily obtainable. The key is that items may need to be washed several times before the smell is completely gone. That’s why most people choose to have any clothing they wish to save be washed by a professional drycleaner. But if you are going to go the route of washing them yourself, be sure you do not dry anything until all of the odor is gone. Once it’s dry, the odor particles are locked into the fabric of your clothing and will not come out.
All other hard and soft surfaces need to be thoroughly cleaned as well. If any surface that was touched by smoke isn’t cleaned, the smell will linger for weeks, if not months to come. This includes the HVAC system and duct work. Filters will need to be replaced, as well as the register, coils and interior of the ducts cleaned.
First and foremost, we are not fire chasers. We feel that it’s unethical to find work by scavenging on someone whose entire world seems to be upside down. The only fire jobs we take are when we’re contacted directly by the owner or referred to the owner by a trusted source. Because we are selective about the fire jobs we take on, we have the ability to treat each job as if it was our property.
When we do respond, we provide most of the services outlined above and the ones we don’t do in-house, we have a reliable network of specialists to assist us. This usually means cleaners that specialize in art restoration, furniture, oriental rugs and volume dry cleaning.
We’ll walk through the entirety of the process, from filing your insurance claim all the way through making sure you have the right people to rebuild the areas that require it. We even have on-site storage pods in our secure warehouse behind our main office.