What to Do Immediately After a Fire
In the immediate aftermath of a fire, the property will display signs of ruin caused by the flames, smoke, heat and water. Items not initially damaged by the rage of flames will undergo ruin by the stealthy spread of smoke and the water used to extinguish the fire.
Firefighters who put out the flames may have resorted to demolishing parts of the home. Broken windows and holes cut in the walls and roof are likely to have been actions the firefighters took to reduce the avalanche of dark smoke and squash the flames hidden behind the walls.
What’s left behind is an unsightly mess of soot and smoke. The soot particles and dirty water might contain harsh components that could lead to sickness in humans or pets. Plus, soot particles can permanently damage goods if not promptly removed.
Confronting the destruction caused by a property fire is no easy task. However, property owners are advised to take immediate steps to call for fire damage restoration once the fire is extinguished. Swift actions help to restore the home quickly and return to life as it was before the catastrophic event.
1. Contact the insurance agent
Property owners may be at a loss when it comes to knowing what to do after a fire. Contacting your insurance representative is the first and most beneficial step when recovering from the destruction. Request a written cost estimate for repairs and cleaning.
For those without insurance, local and national organizations can lend a helping hand. Organizations that may offer assistance include the American Red Cross and Salvation Army. Public agencies, like the public health department and the state emergency services office, may also assist.
2. Hire a restoration service
An insurance agent will provide a list of reliable fire damage restoration companies. Since insurance agencies frequently deal with fire damage, they will recommend a few reputable restoration companies that also partner with local engineers, architects and contractors.
3. Find alternative shelter
Depending on how badly the fire ravaged the property, temporary housing may be necessary. Homeowners’ policies often pay for “like kind and quality” shelter, food and clothing while the home is undergoing restoration. Get plenty of rest, since fire restoration is a major task.
4. Comfort pets
After a fire of any extent, house pets may display signs of fear, such as biting and scratching. Comfort the animals. Handle pets with care, and leave them with a friend, relative or the veterinarian until the home is cleaned and restored.
5. Secure the home
Never enter a fire damaged property until the fire departments says it is safe to do so. Firefighters will check utility services, like water, gas and electricity, to make sure they are safe to use. If not, the fire department will turn them off. Avoid turning them on without clearance.
Since windows and doors may have been broken during the fire or extinguishing process, board them up. Place tarp over holes in the roof. Protective measures like these prevent intruders and wild animals from entering. Inform local police that the home will be temporarily vacant.
6. Document the damage
In order for claims to be processed, the insurance company will require evidence of the fire damage. Once it is safe to enter the property, inspect the loss and create a detailed inventory list of damaged goods. Simplify the process by separating damaged from undamaged possessions.
Gather evidence by taking ample photos, videos and detailed notes about the damage. Include the purchase price and date, serial number, brand and a brief description of each damaged item in the inventory list. Remove irreplaceable goods and heirlooms prior to leaving the home.
7. Replace documents
A home fire is likely to have destroyed valuable documents and records, like passports, auto registrations, titles and deeds, wills, insurance policies, birth certificates, marriage certificates, income tax records, citizenship papers and medical records. Begin the process of replacing these important documents.
If money has been partially burnt, replace the paper currency at the regional Federal Reserve Bank or send it to the Treasury. Burnt money should be handled as little as possible. Preserve the damaged bills by placing them in plastic wrap. Mutilated US savings bonds can also be replaced.
8. Get counseling
Losing a home by fire is a traumatic event. Common emotions include shock, anger, and hopelessness. Evacuation, relocation and rebuilding are major challenges. Recover emotionally from the bitterness, disbelief and sadness of the event by scheduling counseling sessions, if needed.
9. Prepare for disaster in advance
Property owners are advised to take practical, preparatory actions before an unanticipated disaster hits. Rather than face being underinsured, review the homeowner’s insurance policy to ensure sufficient coverage is in place, such as loss of use coverage and replacement cost coverage.
Prior to filing a claim, show the insurance company the lifestyle led via videos of the home. Store receipts for valuables in a metal fireproof box. Or, save receipts to online storage sites, like the cloud. Check the smoke alarm batteries, and know how to use fire extinguishers.
Fire Damage Restoration
When searching for a reliable fire damage restoration team, look no further than ServiceMaster EMT. We offer comprehensive fire damage cleanup services that will return your property to its pre-loss condition. Our restoration process is designed to tackle all elements of rebuilding the home.
ServiceMaster EMT contractors start by protecting what’s left of the property. We board up and tarp damaged areas. Skilled technicians also restore water damage that results from the fire hoses. Content cleaning is done offsite at our facility.
Our fire damage restoration processes include carpet and upholstery cleaning and chemical dry sponge cleaning. We use thermal foggers and ozone units to deodorize. Our experienced technicians also provide structural repairs that meet industry standards. A final inspection completes the restoration.
Residential communities in the surrounding areas of Southern California and Nevada rely on ServiceMaster EMT for all fire damage restoration tasks.