Recent Fire Damage Posts

Preventing fires in your home

3/10/2019 (Permalink)

SERVPRO of Ellis County is here to assist your rebuild and restoration needs in the event of a fire. We understand that the best course of action for you is to avoid the fire in the first place. It's appropriate to end this string of fire-related blogs with one that you can act upon now, to make your home a safer place and hopefully avoid any fire damage in the future.

If you have any questions or there is a topic not discussed, your local fire department will also have plenty of resources to use to ensure your home is protected.

To talk about what can be done to prevent fires to your house or residence, it’s, of course, important to get a grasp on what the main causes of fires are. Once we know what might be the source of potential fire, we can then delve into the steps you can take to make these sources safer in your everyday life.

Our experience at SERVPRO of Ellis County definitely echos this source that discusses the common causes of house fires. The ones we run into most often include kitchen/cooking fires, electrical fires, and smoking-related. These are things that we use every day, meaning that many times people become complacent with them. Having a general idea of the common causes of house fires, let’s now take a look at the steps to be taken to avoid them.

Kitchen fires, cooking fires, and grease fires are all frequent culprits of fire damage. There are some basic things you can do to minimize the risks when cooking. First and foremost, never leave your food cooking when unattended. It is tempting to go do something else for 5-10 minutes while you let food cook, but this can have unintended consequences when one stray flame causes a fire that you could have extinguished easily, but how now turned into a full-blown kitchen fire.

Similarly, leaving rags, oven mitts, or anything flammable near the stove or oven only serves as fuel for a potential fire. Be sure to always store these items a safe distance from the heat sources in your kitchen.

Finally, all kitchen appliances that rely on electricity should be unplugged when not in use. While it may be a hassle to plug your coffee machine in first thing every morning, this is much preferable to a fire caused by faulty wiring.

In fact, faulty wiring can cause a fire in every room of your house, not just your kitchen. Electricity is an ingrained part of modern life, and it is not realistic to request you unplug every single device in every room when you leave.

However, there are still some useful tips to help minimize the risk your electrical devices have in your home.

First and foremost, those power cords and surge protectors you use to expand the electrical outlet capacity in your home are a large fire hazard. These should be avoided or used sparingly. Ensure that all electrical wires do not run underneath carpet or rugs, are kept away from water, and any possible heat source. Keep an eye on your electrical devices and their associated cords, if anything seems hotter than is typical unplug the device immediately.

Smoking is the other cause of fires that we see often. Not only does this cause fire, but we frequently have customers wanting us to help them remove the smoke smell from a residence. The easiest way to avoid both of these is to simply smoke outside. The weather may not be the best, but temporary discomfort is much preferable to the long and arduous process of dealing with fire damage.

Your home has a plethora of flammable items that a stray cigarette can quickly ignite. Whether or not you are inside when you choose to smoke, ensure that the cigarette is completely out before disposing of it.

This is a huge cause of smoke-related fires, someone thinking the cigarette is out when there are still embers to ignite other materials. The way to prevent this is to always use an ashtray, and be thorough when putting your cigarette out, to the extent that you can pour water on the cigarette after you are done to make sure that it cannot cause a fire. If you do choose to smoke inside, you should never smoke in your bed, or when you are under blankets of any kind, or near any sources of medical oxygen.

Some of this may seem like common sense, and most of it is not hard to adhere to. The mere fact of the matter is complacency can be a huge determining factor in whether a house is safe from fire damage or not.

The key is to remain diligent, follow this advice and the advice of your local fire department, and have your smoke detector and smoke alarms checked routinely to ensure they are functioning properly.

With all of this in mind, proper preventative techniques can do a lot to prevent a fire that can harm you, your family, and your property.

Written by: Brendan Gillette

Fire Damage Process

3/7/2019 (Permalink)

Fires are some of the most sudden and destructive occurrences that can happen to your home or property. It is an unfortunate and stressful time for you and your family, so it is important to discuss the necessary steps to remediating your fire damage and getting your life back on track in the fastest and most convenient manner for you.

A fire damage in your home, much like a water damage, could be from a number of causes. There could be an electrical fire caused by faulty outlets, a kitchen or grease fire caused by accidents when cooking, or could be the result of lightning striking your home.

As there are a number of causes, there could potentially be a number of ways we go about your remediation.

First it is important to outline how the fire process differs from the water mitigation process. When you have a fire in your home, please do not call us first! Call 911 and have your local fire department come to take care of the problem. When that is complete is when we can begin our mitigation work.

The fire department, depending on the severity of the fire, will be the ones who determine when a mitigation company can enter the property. It is fine to call us and give us your information so we can prepare, but we cannot come out to begin your scope until the fire department clears the area as safe.

Now that we have been given permission to enter the building, our work operates a little differently than water mitigation jobs. Whereas we can usually get moisture readings and begin mitigation the same day, fire damages are typically a slightly slower process.

It is assumed in a water damage that your house is fine, and whatever work we do inside will be restoring that house. Fire damages aren’t quite so simple.

Adjusters may need to come inspect the property to deem whether or not the structure is salvageable or not. Similarly, a lot of items that were affected by the fire will be either deemed salvageable or unsalvageable, and your adjuster may want us to come up with that list before we continue work. This process of doing inventory and inspecting every one of your possessions is to determine what we can clean and what we cannot clean is the first important step to getting your restored to pre-accident condition.

Once we understand what can be cleaned, and what will need to be replaced, the next step of the process is called a pack out. This is essentially moving your items that will be cleaned to our safe storage facility so that we can best clean them. This happens for two reasons.

First, we oftentimes need to use an ozone machine to get the entirety of the smoke odor out of your items.

Second, the floors, walls, and ceilings of your house are more than likely also affected by smoke odor. This means if we can your dresser and leave it in your room, the smoke odor will permeate back into the item leaving you in the same situation. It is also easiest to do all of the surface cleanings; your walls and ceilings, as well as carpet and duct cleaning while the areas are completely empty of other items.

After our extensive and exhaustive cleaning is finished, ensuring all of your items are restored to pre-fire condition, the final step before we can put everything back in your house is repairing or replacing any damaged parts of your home.

Whether drywall and ceiling have been burnt during the fire, or your vent hood in the kitchen needs replaced, we are here to help and have a number of professional contractors who specialize in restoration work that can make your home "Like it never even happened."

The final step, once all of this is complete, is to do a pack back. We return your items, clothing, furniture, and place everything back in your home like it was prior to the fire.

We understand this is a trying time. We will work in conjunction with your insurance to ensure that the fire that uplifted your life is in the past and you can move forward in your newly restored home.

Written by: Brendan Gillette

Categories of Fire Damages

3/7/2019 (Permalink)

When we talk about the different categories of fire damages, we aren’t necessarily looking at the cause of the fire. While there are differences and nuances in regards to the cause of fires on the methods we use to properly clean afterward`, the bigger concern lies in what happens to stop the fire from spreading, and how far the fire spreads.

We generally categorize fire damages as fire, fire/water, or smoke losses.

We will investigate each of these to explain what that means for you, the homeowner, when one of these occurs.

Fire damage is extensive damage to the property itself and your items and furniture. The extent will vary, depending on the source of the fire and the time it took to extinguish. However these jobs will, generally, involve the removal of your items (packout), cleaning of items and of surfaces inside your home, then the return of your items (packback) after any rebuild is complete. This is a lengthy process, but we here at SERVPRO of Ellis County will do everything in our power to expedite the job to get you back in your home as soon as possible.

A fire/water damage is very similar to fire damage, with the caveat that the fire department had to use water or another liquid agent to extinguish the fire.

While the fire department does the heroic work saving lives and property every single day, the addition of water to your home in such large, unmanageable amounts causes more work to be done.

What we are looking at in this case is everything involving fire damage, but also all of the water damage requirements as well. We will have to include a water remediation portion of the job on top of the rest of the fire damage.

You can go back to view water damages in detail in our previous posts.

The biggest thing to realize, however, is that the non-salvageable list will continue to grow as the areas affected by water or whatever liquid agent extinguished the flames most likely soaked your items such as dressers and furniture and while some may be cleaned and repaired, others may have to be replaced.

This is an unfortunate situation to find yourself in, but the first and most important priority is the safety of you and your family and thus the use of liquid-based extinguisher was deemed required. These jobs are more complicated but are nothing new to the professional team at SERVPRO of Ellis County. We will be able to handle your water/fire situation just as well as any other fire jobs.

One other category worth mentioning is smoke. If you have a grease fire, leave the oven on, or have a fire situation that is relatively small and contained, you may very well still have smoke damage throughout your house. This is because smoke often times can travel through duct systems and affect rooms that were nowhere near the original source of the fire.

When this happens, your clothes, bedding, furniture, and sometimes even walls and carpet can begin to smell like smoke. The remediation process for this is very similar to your regular fire job, however, the additional application of an air scrubber or ozone machine on-site to help clean the air of the smoke odor may be necessary.

Often times, repainting is required as the smoke embeds itself in the walls. These types of damages are best cleaned as soon as possible as the longer it takes to clean the more difficult the smell will be to eradicate from the substance.

This is one of the most trying times in your life when you have fire damage your home. This is something that we are here to help with.

Understanding the differences between fire damage, a fire/water damage, and smoke damage will help you better understand the steps you need to take and the steps we will be performing to best remediate your fire damage.

Written by: Brendan Gillette