How to Handle a Fire Damage
Calling 911 is the first step when a fire occurs on your property. Many of our clients tell us that as the firefighters battled the blaze, they realized they didn't know what was to come.
Fire damage is often overwhelming, an event that is never forgotten. In the event of fire damage in North Richland Hills, three vital phases must be addressed:
- firefighting efforts
- cleaning, restoration, and construction
- fire damage insurance claims.
During the firefighting stage, trained firefighters work tirelessly to contain and prevent the blaze from spreading. When the fire has been subdued, the subsequent stage aims to restore the affected property to its pre-fire condition. This process typically involves debris cleaning, repairing, or replacing damaged structures. Finally, insurance claims cover the expenses incurred during the restoration process and aid in any additional assistance required after the fire.
Firefighting is crucial in fire suppression, and mastering the art is critical in high-rise buildings. The response of firefighters is a function of many factors, such as the location, size, and intensity of the fire, the type of materials in the building, and weather conditions at the time.
Water remains a vital firefighting tool, deployed through powerful hoses to extinguish or prevent the spread of the flames. However, water can do more harm than good in some situations (e.g., when electrical equipment is involved). Firefighters can turn to specialized fire suppression agents where water cannot be safely used.
Carbon dioxide is a colorless, odorless gas used for fire suppression by displacing oxygen to suffocate the fire. Dry chemical agents, such as ammonium phosphate and potassium bicarbonate, interrupt the chemical reaction of fire. Foam agents, such as protein and synthetic foam, create a blanket covering the fuel, depriving the flames of oxygen needed to survive. Lastly, halon is a chemical gas that reacts with the fire chemically to stop the reaction.
The choice of suppression agent is a critical decision, with firefighters choosing based on the fire's characteristics, the materials involved, and the location of the blaze. By selecting the appropriate agent, the firefighters can successfully extinguish the flames and prevent the fire from spreading further.
Ventilation is equally essential in firefighting; a clear path for escaping dangerous smoke and gases is required. This can involve breaking windows, creating ventilation holes in the roof, or specialized fans drawing air out of the building. In high-rise buildings, ventilation can be more complex due to narrow staircases and the location of the fire. Nevertheless, ensuring proper ventilation is essential to preserving life and minimizing property damage.
After Firefighting, Call a Fire Damage Restoration Company
When selecting a fire damage restoration firm, consider their expertise in the following restoration services:
Fire Damage Assessment
During fire damage assessment, a fire damage restoration company conducts an exhaustive inspection of the property to evaluate the extent of damage caused by the fire. The assessment process comprises identifying the areas of the property impacted by the fire, assessing the severity of the destruction, and creating a restoration plan.
Initially, the property undergoes a comprehensive visual inspection to identify the areas highly entrenched by the fire. This procedure aims to determine the extent of damage, scrutinizing the walls, ceilings, floors, roof, electrical, plumbing, and HVAC systems to ensure they are functioning appropriately and not jeopardized.
Afterward, the restoration team utilizes specialized equipment, including thermal imaging cameras, that can detect heat, moisture, and moisture meters to identify areas of damage not visible to the naked eye. The moisture meter assesses moisture levels in materials like drywall and wood, signaling areas prone to mold growth if left unaddressed.
Having completed the assessment, the fire damage restoration team then develops a restoration plan outlining the procedures needed to return the property to its initial state. The steps may involve:
- Boarding up damaged doors and windows.
- Eliminating impacted materials.
- Sanitizing affected areas.
- Reconstructing damaged structural components.
A primary objective of board-up services is to secure and protect the property from unauthorized entry, vandalism, theft, or further damage caused by inclement weather. A fire damage restoration firm may utilize plywood sheets to cover damaged windows, doors, or walls. Doing this prevents unauthorized entry into the property, minimizing further destruction risk.
Tarping services help prevent water from seeping through holes created due to fire damage. The tarp material is waterproof and durable, protecting the property from natural weather elements, mainly rain. Restoration firms can carry out tarping to protect the property from water damage.
Temporary Security Fencing
In cases where board-up services cannot be immediately implemented due to weather or other circumstances, a professional restoration company can construct a temporary security fence to prevent intrusion. The wall would be erected as a secure perimeter around the damaged area, and security guards may be deployed to provide an added layer of protection during wall installation.
Restoration experts comprehend the significance of salvaging a property's contents after a fire disaster. Successful content salvaging includes assessing personal belongings, furnishings, and valuable items within the property and determining what can be retrieved.
The restoration team will meticulously sort through the property's contents, distinguishing damaged items from those that can be saved. The restoration process may include restoring damaged items through cleaning and sanitizing or necessitating a total replacement.
Ultrasonic cleaning machines and ozone generators are implemented to restore items determined to be salvageable. Ultrasonic cleaning entails submerging items in a tank containing a cleaning solution and exposing them to high-frequency sound waves to eliminate dirt and debris. Ozone generators produce ozone gas, eradicating odor-causing particles and sanitizing affected items.
The restoration team may also implement techniques such as freeze-drying and document restoration to retrieve essential documents and electronics. Freeze-drying entails removing moisture from materials such as photographs and books to prevent further harm, while document restoration utilizes specialized equipment to restore and protect important documents.
Content salvaging is an intrinsic aspect of fire damage restoration, as it reinstates normalcy to those affected by the fire. By retrieving personal belongings and valuable items, the restoration team can facilitate the return of the property to its pre-fire condition faster.
The demolition phase is vital to fire damage restoration as it prepares the property for rebuilding. A fire damage restoration company may determine whether specific structural components must be demolished due to the severity of the damage. The restoration team will secure the area by removing salvageable items and boarding up all openings to ensure safety.
Once the demolition area is secured, protective gear, including respirators and gloves, is worn to provide safety for the restoration team. Damaged materials are safely removed using specialized equipment such as saws, drills, and excavators. Large-scale demolition projects may require heavy machinery like cranes.
During demolition, negative air machines, along with HEPA filters, are used to control dust and debris. Such devices create a vacuum that captures airborne particles, filtered by HEPA filters that remove 99% of particles down to 0.3 microns in size.
Once the damaged structural components are removed, the property is prepared for the rebuilding phase of the restoration. The restoration team uses specialized techniques and materials to repair it safely and effectively. Careful planning and execution are critical to safely removing damaged components and paving the way for a successful restoration project.
Cleaning and Restoration
In the aftermath of a fire, recovery efforts can begin after eradicating hazardous materials. This process involves clearing the residue of the extinguishing agents (e.g., water, soot) to proceed with the cleanup.
An established fire restoration firm employs a meticulous process for cleaning the affected items and commodities, ensuring that they are moved to a secure location and thoroughly disinfected to remove all pollutants and odors.
The fire restoration team typically prepares an inventory of the affected items. It sorts them for identification purposes before packing and transporting them to a secure site for cleaning and restoration. They use specialized equipment, including dollies, carts, and boxes, to transport materials, vigilantly avoiding additional damages.
At the restoration site, the team evaluates the degree of harm and uses state-of-the-art tools and techniques to clean items of varying sizes and materials. The restoration company may use ultrasonic, dry, or wet cleaning processes based on the material and the severity of the damage.
For instance, ultrasonic machines, which involve immersing objects in a tank full of cleaning agents that use high-frequency sound waves to detach debris, are often used for soft contents such as clothes and fabrics. Similarly, dry cleaning methods may use a gentle bristle vacuum and dry sponges to remove dust and dirt. Wet cleaning may require applying cleaning agents, rinsing with water, and drying the likewise cleaned surfaces.
Ozone generators are an essential tool when addressing structural and odor problems. These tools are adept at producing ozone gas, eradicating odor-causing contaminants, and sanitizing affected items, even those that have absorbed pungent smoke smells.
Acknowledging that certain items are unsalvageable, extensive fire damage may necessitate proper disposal. Furthermore, irrecoverable items play a role in insurance claim settlements filed by the fire damage restoration service.
In addition to sanitization and cleansing, essential document and electronics salvage can be achieved by utilizing restoration techniques such as freeze-drying and document restoration. Freeze-drying effectively removes moisture from books, photographs, and other materials to prevent further damage. Document restoration uses specialized equipment to protect and restore critical documents.
The restoration process must pay careful attention to air quality. The restoration team resorts to HEPA filters and negative air machines to limit airborne particles and dust. Dehumidifiers and air movers are necessary to prevent mold growth and dry out water damage.
Reconstruction becomes necessary in the event of significant damage to a structure caused by fire or the need to replace specific features to restore functionality. In this case, a restoration company would collaborate with insurance adjusters and other professionals to gauge the damage's extent and the reconstruction required.
A reconstruction project may involve removing damaged structural elements such as walls, ceilings, and floors. The team would also address damaged electrical, plumbing, and HVAC systems.
Adherence to codes and meeting all applicable safety standards are crucial aspects of the reconstruction process. Structural changes might be mandated, while safety features such as sprinkler systems, smoke detectors, and fire alarms may require installation.
The restoration team works closely with the property owner throughout the reconstruction process to ensure their preferences are considered. The team diligently communicates progress updates and any changes to the project timeline or budget to the owner.
Filing a Fire Damage Insurance Claim
When filing for an insurance property claim following fire damage, it is crucial to comply with specific procedures to receive compensation. First and foremost, contact your insurance company and report the occurrence while providing your policy number and pertinent details.
An assigned adjuster will schedule a visit to assess the damage. It is essential to document the damages before the adjuster's visit and record all damaged items, visible or not. By providing as much detail as possible, the adjuster can determine your policy's coverage.
The adjuster should explain the claim procedure and identify the deductible necessary to resolve the issue. Once the assessment is complete, the insurance company sends a proof-of-loss form, requiring complete documentation of the estimated value of each damaged item.
Occasionally, the insurance company will engage an independent adjuster to assess severe damage or in cases of coverage disputes. In some cases, advances are provided to cover immediate expenses.
Once approved, the insurance company issues a settlement check or directly pays the restoration company responsible for repairs. Nevertheless, it is essential to note that not all replacement costs may be fully covered, and the process may be lengthy and stressful. Maintaining proper communication records and partnering with an experienced restoration company can significantly ease the burden of settling the issue after a fire.
SERVPRO of North Richland Hill's Fire Damage Cleanup Team
The industry-leading fire damage restoration team at SERVPRO of North Richland Hills stands ready to offer our professional assistance. We have served for nearly four decades and earned a reputation for excellence.
Our operational workflow is based on meticulousness and structured protocols, which we have shaved to perfection over the decades. First, we thoroughly evaluate the extent of fire damage, creating an itemized list of all required repairs. Next, we work closely with our clients to ensure that insurance claims are accurately processed, and all necessary documentation is fulfilled. We advocate for our clients, ensuring a fair settlement amount.
Our team of highly trained and accredited professionals employs an array of advanced equipment, such as ultrasonic technologies, the Esporta Wash System, and ozone techniques, to ensure that your property is cleaned and restored to preloss condition. This includes the removal of smoke and soot damage, eliminating any residual odors, and repairing structural damage.
In addition to our unparalleled experience in the industry, our adept and highly-trained technical team possesses the technical knowledge necessary to restore your property effectively. We also recognize that experiencing a fire can devastate your personal and professional life. Our team focuses on compassionate customer service, taking additional time to address our client's concerns and questions throughout the process.
Contact SERVPRO of North Richland Hills today to schedule a fire damage consultation with our highly skilled team of professionals.
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