Archived Fire Damage Blog Posts
Fire And Smoke Damage Do's And Don'ts
SERVPRO of Marysville/Arlington is your stop for Fire & Smoke damage cleanup and restoration. We have been operating for over 40 years and have extensive knowledge and expertise in the Fire & Smoke damage cleanup industry.
Limit movement in the home to prevent soot particles from being embedded into upholstery and carpet.
Keep hands clean. Soot on hands can further soil upholstery, walls and woodwork.
Place dry, colorfast towels or old linens on rugs, upholstery and carpet traffic areas.
Do not attempt to wash any walls or painted surfaces with our fist contacting your SERVPRO of Marysville/Arlington Professional.
Do not attempt to clean any electrical appliances, TV sets, radios, etc. that have been close to fire, heat or water with out first consulting an authorized repair service person.
Do not consume any canned or packaged food, beverages or medications that may have been stored close to fire, heat or water. (They may be contaminated)
If you're home suffers a fire or smoke damage be sure to call SERVPRO of Marysville/Arlington and as always is "Here to Help."
Understanding The Behavior Of Smoke
There are two different types of smoke--wet and dry. As a result, there are different types of soot residue after a fire. SERVPRO technicians are trained in fire cleanup and restoration, and know the different types of smoke and its behavior patterns. Knowing this information is vital to proper restoration. Before restoration begins, the technicians will survey the loss to determine the extent of impact from fire, smoke, heat, and moisture on the building materials and contents. The soot will then be tested to determine which type of smoke damage occurred. Pretesting determines the proper cleaning method and allows us to focus on your precious items.
Smoke can penetrate various cavities within the structure, causing hidden damage and odor. Our knowledge of building systems helps us to investigate how far smoke damage may have spread. The following are additional facts you may not know about smoke.
- Hot smoke migrates to cooler areas and upper levels of a structure.
- Smoke flows around plumbing systems, seeping through the holes used by pipes to go from floor to floor.
- The type of smoke may greatly affect the restoration process.
Different Types of Smoke
Wet Smoke (Plastic and Rubber) Low heat, smoldering, pungent odor, sticky, smeary. Smoke webs are more difficult to clean.
Dry Smoke (Paper and Wood) Fast burning, high temperatures, heat rises therefore smoke dries.
Protein Fire Residue (Produced by evaporation of material rather than from a fire) Virtually invisible, discolors paints and varnishes, extreme pungent odor.
Fuel Oil Soot (Furnace Puff Backs) While "puff backs" can create havoc for homeowners, SERVPRO technicians can, in most cases restore the contents and structure quickly.
Other Types (Tear gas, fingerprint powder, and fire extinguisher residue) Special loss situations require special care.
Our technicians are trained to handle even the toughest losses. And make any smoke disaster "Like it never even happened."
Fire Escape Planning For Your Business
An emergency escape plan is not required for all businesses, however, OSHA recommends building an emergency action plan to protect yourself, your employees, and your business during an emergency. OSHA suggests the following steps when developing a plan.
Organize an Emergency Preparedness Procedures review with employees to review your company's emergency plans. You may wish to select an individual or team of individuals to lead and coordinate your emergency plan.
Once a plan is developed, post evacuation procedures, including routes and exits, where they are easily accessible to all employees. Ensure all exits and routes are clearly marked, and will lit, wide enough to accommodate the number of evacuating personnel, and unobstructed and clear of debris at all times.
Conduct office evacuation exercises and drills. Designate a safe spot outside of the facility where employees can regroup, recover and conduct a head count. Once completed, evaluate how well the plan worked and if additional training or exercises are needed.
Fire Damage Emergency Tips
After any fire damage situation, your primary focus should be safety:
- Is it safe to stay in the house?
- Electrical and "slip and fall" hazards are some of the most prevalent concerns.
- Only do activities that are safe for you to perform.
- Wet materials can be VERY heavy. Be careful!
Have A Fire or Smoke Damage Emergency?
What To Do After A Fire
- Limit movement in the home to prevent soot particles from being embedded into upholstery and carpets.
- Keep hands clean so as not to further soil upholstery, walls and woodwork.
- Place clean towels or old linens on rugs, upholstery and carpet traffic areas.
- If electricity is off, empty freezer and refrigerator and prop doors open.
- Clean and protect chrome with light coating of petroleum jelly or oil.
- Wash houseplants on both sides of leaves.
- Change HVAC filter.
- Tape double layers of cheesecloth over air registers.
What NOT To Do After A Fire
- Don't attempt to wash any walls or painted surfaces or shampoo carpet or upholstery without contacting your SERVPRO Franchise Professional.
- Don't attempt to clean any electrical appliances that may have been close to fire, heat or water without consulting an authorized repair service.
- Don't use any canned or packaged food or beverages that may have been stored near the fire, heat or water.
- Don't turn on ceiling fixtures if ceiling is wet. The wiring may be damaged.
- Don't send garments to an ordinary dry cleaner. Improper cleaning may set smoke odor.
Fire Damage And Restoration
Fires can be especially devastating to your home or business. After the fire trucks leave, your property will likely suffer from not only fire and smoke damage, but also widespread water damage and flooding from firefighting efforts. SERVPRO Franchise Professionals have specialized fire and water damage restoration training and experience to quickly clean up and restore your home to pre-fire condition. They also can remove the pervasive smoke odor and deep-clean soot from upholstery and carpet.
Please refer to our Fire Damage Tips - Until Help Arrives Guide and follow these tips to protect yourself and your property.
SERVPRO Franchise Professionals
Fire, Smoke, or Soot Damage? Call Today 1-800-SERVPRO
Why Choose SERVPRO Franchise Professionals?
They’re Faster to Any Size Disaster
SERVPRO Franchise Professionals are dedicated to responding immediately when you need help with a fire or water damage event. A fast response lessens the damage, limits further damage, and reduces cost.
They’re Fire and Water Damage Specialists
They specialize in fire and water damage restoration, the cornerstone of our business. SERVPRO Franchise Professionals have extensive training and equipment to get your property back to pre-fire condition.
- Fire & Smoke Restoration Technician
- Odor Control Technician
- Upholstery & Fabric Cleaning Technician
- Water Damage Restoration Technician
They Have a Restore vs. Replace Mentality
SERVPRO Franchise Professionals clean and restore your property using specialized equipment and cleaning techniques. Their “restore first” mentality reduces interruption and gets you back to your life.
The Fire Damage Restoration Process
SERVPRO Franchise Professionals know just how devastating a fire can be. Fire and water damage can leave your house unsafe and unlivable. They’re trained to clean and restore your home with as little disruption as possible. Learn more about the fire damage restoration process.
Step1: Emergency Contact
Step 2: Inspection and Fire Damage Assessment
Step 3: Immediate Board-Up and Roof Tarp Service (if needed)
Step 4: Water Removal and Drying (if water damage is present)
Step 5: Removal of Smoke and Soot from All Surfaces
Step 6: Cleaning and Repair
Step 7: Restoration
Why Professionals Should Clean Smoke Damage From A Fire
When the firefighters leave, it may seem like the danger has passed and the home is safe from further destruction, but without professionals to help clean the smoke damage, the building will never return to normal. While the principles behind fire restoration are fairly simple, it requires a lot of experience and manpower to perform adequately, and this means that it shouldn’t be attempted by a homeowner on his or her own.
While fire is always the immediate danger, once it is gone, what it leaves behind will continue to affect the house. Ash and smoke, if left unhindered, will cause extensive corrosion, etching and discoloration, not to mention lingering powerful odors. Professionals that clean fire and smoke damage can stop this before it becomes a major problem, assuming they are contacted soon enough. There are many companies out there that advertise their ability to restore areas affected by fire, but only those with proper training and certification should be considered. The Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC) is the main oversight agency in this industry. The IICRC requires its registrants to take extensive coursework before earning their certification. This is a symbol of excellence, and those that uphold the standards that have been set can be contacted through the IICRC.
These professionals can clean smoke damage and restore items affected by a fire, but they must be brought to the site as soon as possible to halt the ongoing issues that ash residue can cause. The first thing that ash does to the home is discolor most surfaces. Anything that is made of plastic or was close to the fire will start discoloring within minutes, and within several hours, fiberglass and finishes on appliances will begin to yellow. Metals may also tarnish. After a few days pass, the ash will cause walls to discolor permanently, along with clothing and upholstery. Wood and vinyl will need to be refinished or replaced, and metal will start corroding.
If a professional isn’t hired to clean smoke and fire damage, the costs for restoration will skyrocket after a few weeks. Metals may need to be replaced, carpet will permanently discolor and glass may be severely etched, which will necessitate replacement. It will also become apparent that the odors caused by the disaster may still be present and intense enough to be distracting. Because ash is acidic, the longer it takes to hire experts, the more destruction it will cause.
The first thing a trained, certified, professional company will do when on site is to identify all affected materials and the source of any odors. The only way to properly clean smoke and fire damage is to be extremely thorough. Ash residue is easily disturbed and can spread through the building with ease, causing nearly everything to need restoration. The experts will identify what can and cannot be salvaged, and will remove any built-up ash residue that is coating surfaces. Over time, ash builds up in layers, and may eventually form into a lacquer-like consistency. Once this is done, the restorers will locate the source of the odor, and treat it with specialized detergents that are formulated for neutralizing this kind of odor. Once materials are treated, they may be sealed off to prevent any further odor from permeating the air in the future.
This entire process is very detailed, and hiring a professional that can be trusted to do the job right is imperative
What To Do After Smoke Damage Has Happened?
Fire and smoke damage can be devastating to personal property and structures. Quick action is the only way to minimize the destruction. The Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification, IICRC, is a globally recognized organization whose mission is to establish higher industry standards. As a referral source for consumers, IICRC certified firms are more likely to provide a faster, better service than non-certified competitors.
Restoration costs increase and damages escalate when the cleaning process is extended. By hastening the hiring process and using an IICRC certified technician, owners will be rewarded by having the damage stopped so repairs can begin.
What happens only minutes after the disaster?
Immediately after a fire, soot residue settles onto the property. Discoloration of porous materials is permanent, but other surfaces may be properly cleaned to remove the discoloration. Acidic soot begins staining other surfaces if not treated quickly.
Within hours all surfaces begin to suffer from fire and smoke damage. Wooden furniture may require refinishing. Metal begins to rust, pit and corrode. Painted walls begin to yellow. Clothing can become permanently stained. And finally, flooring may require refinishing or replacement.
If left untreated, within weeks the restoration process will take longer and cost more. Prolonged soot exposure permanently harms all surfaces and embeds in fibers. Replacement of property may be the best option at this point. The structure may continue deteriorating if not properly restored.
IICRC suggests the following steps after the incident:
- Remember safety comes first. Do not enter the property without proper work gloves and appropriate respiratory protection. Exposure to soot residue causes respiratory distress and other medical emergencies.
- Bring along a few box fans. Upon entering the property open the windows and place the box fans in the windows to force out the contaminated air and dust. Proper ventilation helps to prevent further smoke damage and reduces potential injury to people.
- Remove loose smoke contamination with a professional dry cleaning soot sponge.
- Clean every surface with soap and water. Begin at the top and work down to the floor. Be sure to get inside cabinets and cupboards.
- Using a high efficiency vacuum cleaner with a HEPA (High-Efficiency Particulate Air) Filter, vacuum upholstery and carpet. A good filtration system on a high efficiency vacuum prevents the soot from being blown back into the cleaned space. Clean or change the filter regularly.
- Launder bedding, clothes, curtains, and other washable materials. An alkaline cleaner neutralizes the acid found in the soot. Fine materials should be professionally dry-cleaned by a dry-cleaner who is experienced in smoke damaged articles.
- Clean the exterior walls and eaves using a water hose attached to the proper cleaner. Agitate and loosen stuck-on soot. The smoke damage to the outside of the property will continue until the soot is removed.
Though heavy residues require the assistance of professional restoration technicians, a certified technician may be contacted for any amount of smoke damage. Improper processes can further harm the property or belongings.