We received a call shortly before midnight on Tuesday of last week that a fire had severely damaged a home in Hyattsville, Maryland and needed our fire restoration services. We arrived around midnight, and immediately began our fire damage control and clean up procedures, first of which was making sure everyone was safe and securing the property from further damage, loss and theft.
Every year an overwhelming number of fires occur in the home, with statistics showing that every 60 seconds a fire serious enough to call the fire department breaks out. Many lives are lost and billions of dollars in property loss are incurred. Although the house fire we responded to resulted in a total loss of property, at least everyone was safe and no lives were lost.
Fires are always unexpected, and move quickly. When fire strikes a home or business, lives are suddenly turned around and the loss can be devastating. Knowing what steps to take after a fire, who to contact, and where to begin the fire damage cleanup can be extremely useful. Here we offer our top 5 suggestions of steps to take after a fire, some of which should be done immediately:
1. Contact your property or homeowner’s insurance company. An adjuster will guide you through the claims process and discuss your benefits and options.
2. Contact a professional fire restoration company that specializes in fire damage clean-up, restoration, and repairs. Fire restoration professionals should have experience and knowledge to do the following:
- Secure the property and buildings against further fire damage
- Protect any unaffected areas from further soot or odor before damage can spread
- Determine the extent of fire damage, structural damage, and scope of fire clean up needed
- Repair water damage if sprinklers are activated and perform mold remediation to prevent growth after the fact
- Repair structural damage and clean up fire debris and glass from surrounding areas to prevent further injury
- Estimate the cost to either repair or rebuild both the structure as well as items of personal property
- Clean up soot damage, repair smoke damage, and restore the property, which may include a demolition plan if the fire damage is extensive
3. Take notes and photographs and keep a record of all documents and conversations with your insurance company. Keeping track of all the details can be overwhelming but it’s extremely helpful to be organized and keep detailed records.
4. Catalog your losses. Depending on the extent of the fire, some materials and personal property may be salvaged after a fire, others must be replaced. After you are told it is safe to go onto the property again, take a complete inventory of items that are damaged beyond repair due to soot, smoke or fire damage. If your loss is extensive, you may want to consider hiring a public adjuster who can assist in cataloging your loss and damage.
5. Get support. A house fire, especially if a total loss of property, is devastating and can have a lasting effect on everyone, especially children. Insurance settlements and property restoration can take months, requiring lots of patience. Accept support from neighbors, family and friends, and take good care of yourself and your loved ones as you recover from the shock and trauma of a house fire.
6. Find a place to stay while fire restoration services, clean up, repairs and demolition are taking place. Some insurance policies will cover the cost of alternative housing and living expenses while your home is being repaired after a fire. Keep in mind it can take several months to fully complete fire remediation, so choose a place that is convenient for you and your family.
We are well underway in our fire restoration of the home in Maryland and our sympathy goes out to the owners who sustained such a loss. We hope that the suggestions above will assist others and act as a guide to the best steps to take in the unfortunate situation of a house fire. For more information on commercial or residential fire remediation services in Maryland, Washington DC and Virginia, visit our Smoke and Fire Restoration page or contact Tri State Restorations directly at 1-866-818-1949.