Fire Damage Restoration
The Complete Guide
A fire can be a devastating experience, and the thought of restoring fire damaged property can seem overwhelming.
According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), a fire department located somewhere in the United States responds to a fire every 24 seconds.
Furthermore, it’s estimated that fires each year account for more than $25.5 billion in direct property damage costs.
Yet, after the fire department has extinguished the blaze...
...it’s restoration professionals who are largely tasked with returning homes and businesses affected to a pre-loss condition.
Let's take a closer look at fire damage restoration and how RestoreMasters can help you in the cleanup and recovery process.
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Table of Contents
What is Fire Damage Restoration?
Fire damage restoration is the process of returning a fire and smoke damaged property to pre-loss condition.
Fire cleanup and restoration jobs can take weeks or months due to the destructive nature of the disaster.
Whereas water damage restoration involves mitigating water and drying out the property — a task that can often be completed in days...
Fire restoration may involve things like of property board up, demolition and reconstruction on top of tasks such as debris, odor and soot removal, contents cleaning and working to remove any disturbed hazards such as lead and asbestos.
Finally, it’s also worth noting that fire damage and water damage often occur concurrently.
First, the property is doused with water while the fire department works to contain and extinguish the blaze.
And sometimes, its pipes burst or melt during the fire, which leaks water into the structure. While you may have tremendous damage caused by the fire...
...likewise, water damage can make a structure unsalvageable.
With that, the first task upon securing the property is water removal to remove remaining water before it can cause more damage.
Let's take a closer look at the fire damage restoration process.
Steps to Restore Fire Damage
Before your fire damage restoration contractor can even enter the property to assess the extent of fire damage, they must first receive the official go ahead from a licensed authority.
Otherwise, a contractor could be entering an unsafe situation and risk injury.
After they've been granted access to the property, here's a typical look at how the fire damage restoration process is carried out from there:
1. Assessment of Damage
After first confirming the property is safe to enter, the first thing a fire damage contractor must do is perform an assessment of the damage sustained in the fire and ensuing water intrusion. This typically involves assessing how far the flames and smoke have penetrated into the structure and how extensive any clean up is likely to be. This step also involves assessment of the contents inside of the property to determine what should be discarded and what can be packed out and restored. At the end of a thorough assessment, the restoration company will have a better idea of the scope of the work, how long it will take and can begin formulating a cost estimate.
2. Security of Property & Debris Removal
After the assessment has been performed, the next step is securing the property. This includes installing fencing around the property, removing debris around the perimeter, and boarding up openings in the structure, as well as tarping or sealing off parts of the roof to protect what's left of the property from the weather. If certain areas of the property were not impacted by the fire, then it's important for restoration professionals to ensure that this area is sealed off from the area that was impacted to minimize any cross contamination.
3. Demolition, Water Removal & Dry Out
The goal during this stage is to prevent further damage due to mold or corrosion by removing water and drying out the property. Personal property will be removed from the interior of the structure. Damaged drywall, flooring and other materials will be removed down to the studs as necessary. Water extraction crews will work with commercial equipment to dry out the structure. Roof tarps will be maintained during this stage to prevent further intrusion of water.
4. Clean Up & Smoke Removal
This is the most intensive part of a fire damage restoration job: clean up. This step typically involves a lot of manual labor to properly clean smoke and soot from interior and exterior surfaces. In many cases, every inch of the affected area will need to be cleaned. Following proper clean up, deodorizing agents are used to fully remove any lingering smoke odors. If water damage restoration has also been performed, it may be necessary to sanitize or apply antimicrobial chemicals to halt any subsequent mold growth. Off site, any contents that have been packed out are also likely being restored to pre-loss condition. Clean up also involves duct cleaning to remove any soot, smoke or debris that may have settled in ducts.
5. Construction & Restoration
The final step in returning the property to pre-loss condition is performing any necessary fire damage repairs or to rebuild fire-damaged areas. In the case of a fire, parts of the structure may be completely unsalvageable during the initial assessment, and therefore have to be removed and replaced. This may include: rebuilding and replacing the roof, replacing electrical, replacing and painting drywall, replacing flooring materials, replacing interior counters, fixtures, etc. to bring the property back to pre-loss condition.
What a Fire Damage Restoration Company Does
A fire damage restoration company, like RestoreMasters, is here to respond — 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year — to fire damage emergencies.
Good, credible fire damage restoration companies are always on call.
Ready to respond same day to a property disaster to assess damage, secure the property, and begin water removal services.
Fire damage repair companies will also work hand-in-hand your insurance company to help with the claims process.
A true project partner.
They will stay in constant communication with you to keep you up to date on progress.
The best restoration professionals are qualified to go beyond restoring fire damage.
RestoreMasters, for instance, helps you every step of the way with cleanup, water removal, mold remediation, smoke and fire damage restoration services, roofing, interior and exterior construction.
Are there standard practices that restorers follow related to fire damage?
Yes, the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC) has developed standards known as S740 Standard for Professional Restoration of Fire and Smoke Damaged Personal Items. This IICRC standard is the most widely used guideline for restoring fire and smoke damaged property to pre-loss condition.
Can you live in your home while fire damage restoration is ongoing?
This question cannot be answered until the full scope of fire damage is properly assessed. In some fire damage situations, if only a portion of the property was affected, homeowners may be able to live in areas of the home that were not impacted. However, if there's widespread damage or the home is a total loss, then residents would not be able to return until the property is safe to occupy once again.
Can you help restore my belongings with contents restoration?
Yes. We can help with things like rugs, furniture, electronics, machinery, etc. If it has just endured smoke or water damage, then there's a chance that it can be restored to pre-loss condition. This is largely thanks to the advances in contents cleaning technologies today, as ultrasonic equipment, specialty dry cleaning, hand cleaning and electronics cleaning tools offer great potential to restore hard and soft goods alike. However, if an item has been engulfed in flames, then it will almost always need to be discarded during the contents packout.
What are some common tools restoration contractors use on fire jobs?
Fire damage restoration jobs involve a lot of hand cleaning, as every inch of affected surface needs to be properly cleaned. While much of this is done with cleaning chemicals and sponges or rags, there is some equipment that can help get the job done too. This equipment may include deodorizers, air cleaners, HEPA vacuums, fans, air movers and dehumidifers. Carpet extractors, moisture meters and thermal imaging cameras may also be utilized if water damage is involved in the loss.
What if my fire damaged property contains asbestos or some other hazard?
While it is common for fire and water damage to occur simultaneously, there are a number of otherwise hidden hazards that may come to light in the event of a fire damage situation. For example, asbestos-containing building materials, when disturbed, could break and release hazardous asbestos fibers into the indoor environment. If asbestos is detected on the property, it too will need to be remediated before the property can be restored to pre-loss condition. Other hazards that restoration contractors may encounter include mold growth from water damage or lead exposure from lead-based paints.
How to Select a Fire Damage Restoration Contractor
Selecting a restoration contractor to clean up and restore your property after a disaster is a big decision. These projects are complex and require knowledge of multiple aspects of construction, including: damage removal, electrical, plumbing, roofing, remodeling, ground-up construction, insurance assistance, and complex project management.
Look for a restoration contractor with the following qualifications:
- Is licensed, bonded, and insured
- Experience working with complex projects that require coordination with multiple different parties
- Experience managing staged restoration projects that may require parallel demolition and installation
- Experience working with water, fire, mold damage repairs and restoration
- Experience working with insurance companies on damage claims
An experienced fire restoration contractor can help you restore your property as if the fire had never happened.
Below are links to several other resources related to Fire Damage Restoration. If you have any specific questions, please don't hesitate to reach out to our team.
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RestoreMasters is an experienced full-service restoration contractor - offering turnkey solutions including roofing, siding, windows & doors, interior restoration, exterior repairs & more. With offices nationwide, we are here to serve you!