What to do first.
Dealing with the effects of a fire in your home can seem overwhelming.
Where do you start?
Who can help you?
How am I going to pay for all this?
It can be a life changer but you have to focus on making progress, no matter how small, every day. Fire Damage Restoration requires careful planning. It’s easy to jump in but if you don’t think it through and take action in a logical sequence, you could be wasting your time and money.
There will be an understandable desire to enter the property, make a start on the clean up or try to recover personal or valuable items but is it safe to do so. Never enter a fire damaged property unless you have permission from the on-site fire marshal. You need to know that the fire is fully out, that the gas and electric supplies have been made safe, that you are not are risk from and potential noxious fumes and the building is not of risk of collapse. Only when you are absolutely sure and have taken professional advice, should you enter a fire damaged building. Possessions can be replaced, you can’t be.
Thing to think about before you take action:
- What is the overall condition of the property? Do parts need to be taken down or removed to be made safe? Does it need pumping out? Does it need to be secured by the windows and doors being covered? Have the electrical and gas supplies been isolated?
- What will the insurance company need in terms of information from me? Do I have the policy documentation or was that lost in the fire? One thing for sure is to take plenty of pictures throughout the fire damage restoration process.
- What are my immediate needs? Do I have access to money? If your credit card and the like were in the property, clearly this is a call you will need to make quickly.
- Where am I going to live and how will this be paid for?
- What was lost in the fire? What is the value of the items lost? Do I have any receipts to evidence this?
Once you have a list of what you need to know then the next call is to your insurance company. Clearly they have more experience of dealing with such matters than you so ask, ask, ask. What information does the insurance company need for you? Can they provide to with a checklist to help you with the process? How soon can they get a loss adjustor to the property?
Part of any fire damage restoration project will be repairing damage caused by the fire fighters in tackling the blaze. Almost every time I go to a fire damaged property the owners ask me: “Why did they do that?” What you have to understand is that the fire department won’t do anything to your property that they don’t need to do to tackle the fire quickly and safely so yes they will break windows and cut holes in the roof, but for good reason. You may have seen videos showing how quickly fire spreads and how damaging and dangerous the effects of smoke are.
Creating ventilation strategically in the burning property helps direct and slow the spread of the fire as well as taking the smoke out of the building which is helpful for the fire fighters. So yes, they want to protect and save your property but their priority must also be their own safety.
To the untrained eye, a fire can appear to be out but it can be smouldering in the cavities in walls and that is why hole will be cut so ensure that this is not happening.
So the message is think and plan. What do your insurers need to know and how can you help them help you. Understand what you are likely to face and think about what skills and professional people you will need around you to get the fire damage restoration project started quickly and finished quickly. Time in planning will be time well spent.
I hope you found these fire damage restoration tips useful – perhaps you might like to check out some of the other articles on this subject in the blog.