What Happens During the Fire Restoration Process?

Starting the Restoration Process After a Fire

With much of the U.S. in the midst of a drought made worse by record-breaking summer heat, communities across the country are facing a higher risk of fire for homes and businesses. Regardless of how extensive the damage, a home fire or business fire can be a life-changing event.

If you’ve experienced fire damage or smoke damage in your home or business, you may be wondering where to go for assistance and what to do next. Know that you are not alone, and that professional help is available.

Fire and Smoke Damage: What to Expect

Even a small fire can cause serious damage to a home or business. Flames, heat, smoke and water used to put out the fire can have destructive effects on personal belongings as well as structures. 

In the wake of a fire, don’t attempt to clean up and complete repairs yourself. It’s important for your health and safety to call in a restoration expert to assess the damage caused by fire, smoke and water. A restoration professional will also determine which items can be cleaned, restored and returned to pre-loss condition, and which repairs to the home and business need to be completed.

Smoke & Soot Damage

While we tend to think of the flames as the primary cause of destruction, smoke and soot can worsen the damage even after the fire has been put out. Smoke spreads to rooms that the fire didn’t reach, carrying with it destructively high temperatures, acidic components and corrosive properties that are damaging to metal items such as kitchen fittings and pipes.

Smoke often discolors porous materials as well, including plastics, countertops, tiles, porcelain and hardwood flooring. Along with a lingering unpleasant smell that can soak into carpets, rugs, drapes, furniture, clothing and other personal items, smoke residue can even degrade wallpaper and paint.

A byproduct of fire, soot can be equally as damaging. Like smoke, soot has corrosive properties that can severely damage walls, floors, ceilings, insulation, rugs, carpets, furniture, mattresses, pillows, clothes and more. Soot can even cause electronics to short circuit.

What is the Meaning of Fire Restoration?

Fire restoration refers to the comprehensive process of cleaning, repairing, and restoring properties after they have been damaged by fire, smoke, and the subsequent water or chemicals used in firefighting efforts.

The primary goal of fire restoration is to return the property to its pre-fire condition, ensuring it's safe, structurally sound, and free from harmful residues. This involves several steps, including assessing the extent of damage, removing soot and smoke residues, addressing water damage to prevent mold growth, repairing structural elements, and deodorizing the premises.

Engaging professionals in the fire restoration process ensures that all potential hazards are addressed and the property is fully restored.

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Fire Restoration Checklist: Steps to Restore Your Property

Experiencing a fire can be devastating, but knowing the steps to take afterwards can make the recovery process smoother. Follow this comprehensive Fire Restoration Checklist to ensure your property is restored safely and efficiently.

1. Immediate Safety First:

  • Do not re-enter your property until it's declared safe by authorities.
  • Turn off utilities (gas, electricity, water) until professionals have inspected them.

2. Documentation:

  • Photograph and document all fire damage for insurance claims.
  • Keep a record of all communications with your insurance company.

3. Contact Professionals:

  • Reach out to a fire restoration company for a damage assessment.
  • Consult with your insurance company about recommended restoration services.

4. Water Damage Assessment:

  • Fires often result in water damage from firefighting efforts. Address water damage immediately to prevent mold growth.

5. Smoke and Soot Removal:

  • Prioritize areas affected by smoke and soot. These can be harmful and further damage your property.

6. Property Cleaning:

  • Clean all surfaces, including walls, ceilings, and floors.
  • Specialized equipment may be needed to remove smoke odors.

7. Item Restoration:

  • Determine which items can be restored and which need to be discarded.
  • Clean, deodorize, and restore salvageable items.

8. Structural Repairs:

  • Repair structural damage to walls, ceilings, and floors.
  • Consider repainting walls and replacing damaged flooring.

9. Safety Inspections:

  • Have professionals inspect electrical systems, gas lines, and appliances before use.
  • Check smoke alarms and replace if necessary.

10. Final Review:

  • Walk through your property to ensure all restoration tasks have been completed.
  • Consult with restoration professionals about any lingering concerns.

Remember, while it's essential to act quickly after a fire, safety should always be the top priority. Rely on professionals for guidance and support throughout the fire restoration process.

How Long Does Fire Restoration Take?

The duration of the fire restoration process can vary significantly based on the extent and severity of the fire damage. It can take anywhere from a few days to several months. On average:

  • Minor Fire Damage: Restoration for small, contained fires can take a few days to a week. This includes smoke odor removal, cleaning, and minor repairs.
  • Moderate Fire Damage: For fires that cause more extensive damage to a room or area, the restoration process might last several weeks. This involves more in-depth smoke and soot removal, water extraction, structural repairs, and possibly remodeling.
  • Severe Fire Damage: In cases where a fire has affected a large portion of a property or caused significant structural damage, restoration can take several months. This includes major reconstruction, extensive cleaning, and addressing potential water and mold issues.

It's essential to consult with a professional fire restoration company for a precise timeline, as each situation is unique. Regardless of the duration, the primary goal is to ensure the property is safe, clean, and restored to its pre-fire condition.

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Health Risks of Fire, Smoke and Soot

Along with assessing the damage, it’s important to understand the risks to your health and safety following a home fire or business fire.

Steps to Address Health Risks After a Fire:

1. Assessment First:

  • Recognize the importance of understanding health risks after a fire, beyond just the visible damage.

2. Safety Precautions:

  • Avoid re-entering your home or business until authorities confirm it's safe.
  • Once inside, refrain from turning on utilities (gas, water, lights) until given clearance.

3. Be Aware of Hidden Dangers:

  • Understand that soot and residual water can contain harmful toxins, contaminants, and microbes.
  • Avoid touching or handling damaged items.
  • Resist the urge to clean damaged areas yourself.

4. The Soot Hazard:

  • Recognize that soot, even if not always visible, poses significant health risks.
  • Inhalation can lead to respiratory issues like asthma and bronchitis.
  • Soot contains harmful chemicals such as ammonia, tar, and formaldehyde.
  • Be aware that prolonged exposure to soot increases risks like cancer and carbon monoxide poisoning.

5. Professional Restoration:

  • Engage experts to clean, restore, and repair your property and belongings.

6. Insurance Steps:

  • Initiate the claims process with your insurance provider.
  • Document the damage: taking photos of all affected areas can expedite your claim.

Reclaim Your Life after a Fire:  Professional Fire Restoration 

Dealing with the aftermath of a fire can feel overwhelming. Take the first step in getting your home or business back in order by calling a restoration specialist. Independently certified and specially trained, the Restoration Pros at COIT are ready to respond to your emergency calls 24/7.

With over 70 years of experience in the industry, we understand that the sooner we can get into your home or business to start assessing the fire damage, the faster we can help you get your life back. 

Our restoration professionals work quickly and expertly to inspect your property and create a plan for restoring your home or business. We’ll also conduct a detailed inventory of affected items, determine which ones can be restored, and pack them out to be safely returned to you after restoration. 

Once damaged portions of the structure have been removed, our restoration specialists begin the process of removing harmful soot, smoke, odors, as well as any water. After the restoration process is complete, we’ll return and replace your personal items with the utmost care and respect.

You don’t have to face the damage from a fire alone. COIT’s restoration specialists are here to help guide you through the process and restore your life as well as property.

Call the PROs at COIT for a professional clean!