5 Fire Damage Restoration Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

A fire is a scary and stressful event to go through. Not only can it be a traumatizing thing for the people who experience it, but there are also all sorts of negative knock-on effects and repercussions to deal with in the aftermath. Especially if the fire has caused damage to the property is affected.

If you’ve recently had a fire in your home or property, and you’re wondering about what steps you can take to repair some of the damage done, then there are some Dos and Don’t you should know. Avoid these fire damage restoration mistakes to avoid making matters even worse for yourself.

1. Using the Utilities

After the fire has been put out, it can be tempting to go back inside your property to look around. While you should take photos if you can, it’s best to avoid spending too much time inside.

Falling objects and damaged structures could be a hazard. Whatever you do, you should avoid turning on any utilities at all costs, as this could result in further damage or serious injury.

2. Forgetting to Call Your Insurance Company

After a fire, you’ll likely be running on adrenaline and there will probably be a million things rushing through your mind. There are plenty of people—emergency services, your loved ones—you’ll need to call.

But in all of the hustle and bustle, you can’t forget to call your insurance company. You’ll want to get them to process your claim as fast as they can so you can start repairs as quickly as possible.

3. Not Gathering Information

Adding on from the previous point, in order to successfully win a claim from your insurance company, you’ll probably need some information and evidence about the fire. For this reason, it’s a good idea to speak with firefighters, get copies of any police reports, and take photographs of what the damage looks like. Failing to do this could result in you not getting any money at all.

4. Cleaning the Scene Yourself

This is a bad idea for two big reasons. The first is that you need to wait until the insurance company has carried out its inspection before cleaning, so they can confirm your claims about the damage done themselves. The second is that if you don’t hire a professional fire damage restoration service, you can’t guarantee that a thorough and safe enough job will be done.

5. Not Taking the Time to Find a Professional

As is stated above, it’s always better, when restoring damaged homes, to have a professional come and handle this process. Such professionals will have access to specialized fire damage restoration equipment and experience dealing with damage from fires. You’ll have the peace of mind of knowing your property is in safe hands.

Avoid These Fire Damage Restoration Mistakes

Though nobody wants to go through something as horrible as a fire, when the above fire damage restoration mistakes are avoided, it doesn’t have to turn out for the worst. If you’re in Orange County, you’ve been through a fire recently, and are in need of fire restoration services, we’d be happy to help. Give us a call today.

How to Choose the Best Fire Damage Restoration Companies

Have you been the victim of fire damage in your home? You’ll need to seek out a fire damage restoration specialist.

Going through a fire in your home is a traumatic experience, but once it’s over, you need to start picking up the pieces. Fire damage restoration companies are there to help you get you back on your feet and your home back in working order. If you’ve never gone through something like this before, however, it might seem daunting to find the best one?

In this post, we’re going to help you out by telling you all you need to know about choosing fire damage restoration companies. Read on and you’ll be able to confidently choose a company that you can choose to bring your house back to life.

Talk to Your Insurer First

After the fire’s been put out, people are treated medically, and things calm down a bit, contact your insurance company. They should be able to help you out with a list of potential fire damage restoration companies in your area, maybe some that they’ve worked alongside before.

Your insurer and restorer will work intimately together in the aftermath of the fire. A damage restoration expert will actually file a claim on your behalf after they’re done assessing the damage.

Certification and Experience

Fire restoration experts need to get an Institute of Inspection, Cleaning, and Restoration certification, among other things. Having this ensures that those doing the restoring are highly trained in restoration and the equipment to do so.

You should also try to find a company that has years of wide-ranging experience. At Service First Restoration, for instance, our team has 75 years of full reconstruction experience, including water, sewage, mold, and fire. You can trust your fire-damaged home with us because we’ve seen it all before.

Check Online Ratings and Reviews

Reputation is important in choosing a fire damage restoration company. The best way to find out how a company operates is by asking former clients, so go over to Google, Yelp, or other local listings sites to find out how each company goes about its business, what their customer service is like, and how well they do their job.

You can also ask for referrals from friends that have gone through a fire and restoration. Another good idea is to check on each company’s website to look at testimonials and before/after pictures of their previous work.

Asking About the Process

When you start talking to companies, ask about the process so you can get a sense of how it works. In a difficult post-fire situation, you don’t want to rush into anything that you’re not comfortable with.

A good restoration company will be sensitive to your situation and even more sensitive while they’re working through your home. You need someone you trust on your side, so find a company you really like.

Follow Your Gut for the Best Fire Damage Restoration Companies

When it comes to fire damage restoration companies, you have to follow your gut. You need a sincere company of professionals that understand how to make the best of an awful situation.

Service First Restoration Inc. is a family-owned company with years of experience in fire damage restoration. Visit our website to learn more about what we do and contact us 24/7 if you’ve recently had a fire at your home.

Fire Damage Restoration: A Step-by-Step Guide to the Fire Damage Cleanup Process

Each year, around 1.3 million house fires take place in the U.S.

These range from minor fires to major structural fires, but almost always result in costly damage to your home and your belongings.

Dealing with a fire can be devastating, not to mention confusing. But knowing the right steps to take can help to get you back into your home faster. Keep reading to learn what you need to know about fire damage cleanup.

Find a Safe Place for Your Family to Stay

The most important thing to do, even before you begin cleaning up after a fire, is to find a safe place for your family to stay.

Cleaning and repairing your home after a fire can take anywhere from several weeks to several months. During that time, your family will not only need a place to stay but a place that allows you to get to a new normal. Whether you choose to stay with friends or family or get a hotel or short-term rental, make sure to consider things like having room for your kids to do their homework or for parents to work from home.

Call Your Insurance Agent

House fires in the U.S. cause $6.9 billion in damage annually. But if you have homeowners insurance, the damage will be covered by your insurance provider.

After you’ve found a safe place for your family to stay and replace any belongings that you need right away, like medications or clothing, call your insurance provider. You’ll want to do this as soon as possible; the sooner that you contact them, the sooner they can begin filing your claims. This is essential to getting the damage repaired and other belongings replaced.

Your insurance provider will walk you through what you need to do next. You may need to provide a list of belongings that were damaged or destroyed, file paperwork, or provide other documentation.

Find the Right Fire Damage Cleanup Company

Cleaning up the damage caused by a house fire is a delicate, and sometimes dangerous job. That’s why it’s one that homeowners should never try to tackle on their own.

Professional fire damage cleanup crews have the skills, knowledge, and tools that it takes to properly clean your home following both smoke and fire damage. From removing dangerous fumes to ridding your home of ash, charring, and mold caused by fire hoses putting out the fire.

The first day or two following a house fire is very important. If a cleanup crew is able to get into your space within that time frame, they’ll have a better chance of stopping additional damage from occurring. Reach out as quickly as possible to allow them to get into your home faster to stop further damage and start cleaning up the mess.

Recovering After a Home Fire

No matter how small, a fire in your home can be devastating. You may have lost precious belongings, your beloved home, pets, or other priceless things. And now, you’re faced with living several weeks or months without a home.

But knowing what to do in the hours and days after a fire can go a long way towards helping you get back into your home and get your belongings replaced faster.

If you’re in need of a fire damage cleanup crew, give us a call today.

5 Benefits of Hiring Fire Damage Restoration Services

Did you know that house fires contribute to approximately 27% of all fires reported? Additionally, over three-quarters of civilian deaths from fires are from house fires.

Fires happen – whether they are large wildfires or small accidents in the home. Fire damage restoration services are tasked with helping you get back onto your feet and into your home following damage.

Luckily, there are many benefits from hiring a professional service to ensure your home is safe to return to.

1. Smoke or Odor Removal

After a fire, the last thing you want is the lingering smell. Not only is it noxious, but it’s unsafe. You’ve probably been around a campfire before and understand how easy it is for all of your clothes and items to quickly smell like you’ve been living next to a wildfire.

Smoke can cause harm to porous materials in the home and metals. It is important to immediately have a fire damage restoration company use proper machines and equipment to rid your home of odors before it settles in too far.

2. Reconstruction

Fires can either burn down whole structures or cause minimal damage. Whatever your needs are, it’s important to address any structural damage that needs to be fixed or furniture that requires cleaning.

Ultimately, cleaning up after a fire can be tedious. Companies can take furniture and other items out of the home for proper care, and work on larger tasks, such as reconstruction.

3. Water

You probably didn’t factor in that you’ll need to monitor your water. Fires can damage your water pipes and wells.

Following a fire, especially a wildfire, you should consult professionals to make sure your water supply did not become polluted. They can check for water purity levels and help fix any pipes that became damaged.

4. Immediate Help

The first days following a fire are crucial to salvaging your home. The best fire damage restoration services will have 24/7 help available.

This helps you get on top of any damage, odors, or unsafe house structures. You’ll have access to professional help to educate you on the next steps to take.

5. Future Help

Professional fire restoration companies can assist you in preventing future fires by educating you on proper fire safety.

Did you know that the top causes of house fires come from simple things like cooking? Companies will also check to make sure your electrical systems and fireplace haven’t put you at risk. Taking the proper steps is crucial to preventing house fires.

If you are unsure of what caused your house fire, professional help and firefighters can alert you to unsafe features or appliances in the home.

Fire Damage Restoration Services

It is important to be prepared when accidents happen. Look for professional fire damage restoration services that can handle emergency calls.

You don’t want to go at this alone. Having to deal with destruction in your home is stressful enough – leave the rest of it to a certified company.

Check out this form to inquire further, or give a call for less than one hour response time, and let the pros help you get back on your feet.

What To Do After Smoke Damage

Smoke damage can range from a light dusting of soot to hardened lacquer-like layers.  So there’s a wide variety methods of cleaning smoke damage.  But they all have to be completed within a few days, at most, before smoke and fire damage become permanent.  That includes removing smoke odors from porous woodwork and from deep within the structure itself.

About Smoke and Fire Damage

Returning home after a fire can be traumatic, and that’s a good indication that fire damage and smoke damage are extensive enough to call for restoration specialists.  But if only a small part of a single room is affected it may be something you can tackle yourself.  Here’s a little background information to help you assess the situation.

Smoke and fire damage can be extensive, with destruction hiding within walls and ceilings.  Beyond obvious burning, scorching, and charring high-temperatures cause many materials to swell, warp, and discolor.  Even so, smoke and water damage restoration is often the bulk of the recover effort and expenses.  Secondary damage can begin immediately after the blaze is out, and without restoration can continue for days or even weeks.  Some materials have just a few hours before staining or other harm becomes permanent.  Here’s an outline of how things progress.

  • Minutes Smoke and soot residues settle out of the air and cling to surfaces.  Many porous materials are immediately and permanently stained, while many others can be recovered proper cleaning.
  • Hours Acidic and other compounds affect nearly all surfaces to some degree.  After several hours metals begin to corrode and pit, some textile stains become permanent, and wood furniture needs to be refinished.  If at all possible surface water should be removed from flooring within the first few hours.
  • Days Without treatment nearly all surfaces are harmed.  Smoke compounds embed themselves in fibers and other porous materials, usually making replacement the best option.
  • Weeks Uncleaned glass, porcelain, and china becomes etched and pitted.

Cleaning Smoke Damage

No surprise, safety comes first.  In the case of a significant fire, that starts with a fire marshal’s OK to re-enter the building.  Smoke contains numerous irritants and toxins, so personal protection is important.  That includes wearing rubber gloves, a face mask, goggles, and good footwear.  Never enter a wet area unless the electricity has been turned off, and remove hazardous debris first.

Invisible contamination lingers in the air, so it’s often best to open windows and use box fans at the windows.  But if there’s been water damage as well and the weather is warm and humid, it’s better to keep those windows closed and use a combination of dehumidifiers, air scrubbers, and recirculating fans (http://www.wikihow.com/Clean-Smoke-Damage).

You’ll next want to separate recoverable versus unrecoverable possessions and building materials.  Discard unsalvageable items immediately so they won’t continue to contaminate the area, and move unaffected items to a clean and dry environment.

Next comes cleaning smoke damage — getting everything as clean as possible, as soon as possible.  Be on the lookout for ash, smoke and soot in every nook and cranny, even far from the fire.  You may well find it inside cabinets and drawers, inside duct-work, outdoor utility closets, the attic… and just about anywhere.

The Building

You can clean the smoke from walls and other building surfaces in several ways.  It’s often good to start by using a vacuum cleaner.  But if it doesn’t have a HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filter you’ll likely just be blowing the soot right back into the room.  A “dry chemical sponge” made just for this purpose is often the best method.  Other special-purpose products include Benefect Atomic Degreaser, and Chemspec Smoke-Solv Liquid Wall Wash, and Unsmoke Degrease-All.  A solution of TSP from the hardware or home improvement store can also be helpful in removing oily soot.  Power washers are often effective on exterior surfaces.

Your Possessions

Fiberglass, plastics, metals, appliances, glassware, dishes, tile, and other hard surfaces require thorough cleaning, but household textiles pose the greatest challenge.

Be cautious in walking on carpet and moving furniture, as that can grind in soot and smoke even deeper.  Let items dry before cleaning.  But if hoses or sprinklers were involved, that probably won’t happen soon enough.  So restoration specialists from a certified firm should be involved.

For furniture and other items gentle vacuuming outdoors is a good way to start.  Be careful not to press or scrub, as this forces contamination further in.  A dry chemical sponge is the next best step, followed by soap and water.  Wood furniture should be treated with a cream restoration polish.  Upholstered furniture is likely to require deep cleaning by a company experienced in fire and smoke restoration.

Clothing, drapes, and other textiles can be vacuumed or shaken-off outdoors then laundered.  You may have heard conflicting advice on what sorts of laundry detergents to use — liquid, alkaline (to neutralize smoke’s acid compounds), and others.  That’s because various fibers react differently, and different types of fires produce different kinds of smoke.  Since several washings (as many as 5) are necessary, one suggestion is to simply use different laundry detergents.  Unfortunately, 100% polyester items usually aren’t recoverable.

Smoke Odors

Dry cleaning typically doesn’t remove smoke odors, so wash everything that doesn’t require dry cleaning.  For items that do, find a cleaners that can use counteractants to remove fire smells.

After thorough cleaning, vinegar or Febreez (the active ingredient is cyclodextrin) can often neutralize smells.  Professional carpet cleaning is often enough to get rid of smoke odors there.  But fire odors can penetrate deeply into porous materials and become trapped where no amount of cleaning can reach them.  In that case professional odor removal services are necessary.

Why Professionals?

This blog is only an introduction to what you need to do if you experience smoke damage.  It’s your responsibility to fully educate yourself on the details of cleaning smoke damage and the requirements of your insurance company.  Here are some additional suggestions on when it’s time to call in a professional restoration company.

  • Damage and restoration costs increase over time. Professionals know exactly what to do and have teams to keep everything on schedule (http://www.iicrc.org/what-after-smoke-damage-has-happened-a-140.html).
  • Heavy or tough to clean smoke residues, as well as smoke damage over areas larger than you’re confident you can complete in a day, indicate the need for a professional team.
  • Any evidence of heat damage or the possibility of structural damage is often accompanied by fire and smoke damage in hidden areas.
  • Lingering smoke odors after your first day call for ozone generators or other special equipment.  Remember that your nose quickly starts ignoring odors so you’ll need to have been away for a while or have someone drop by to check for you.
  • When sprinklers or hoses were involved it’s unlikely regular drying and cleaning can occur fast enough to prevent water damage and permanent smoke damage.


The Costs of Fire Damage Restoration

If you’ve just been through a fire you need to bring in fire and smoke damage restoration experts as quickly as possible.  Do-it-yourself efforts frequently backfire and can double or even triple your fire damage restoration costs.  That’s because there’s a 24-48 hour “golden time” for taking all the right steps to prevent further destruction from smoke and water damage that won’t be covered by insurance.  With proper documentation of restoration measures any secondary damage that nevertheless does occur should be covered.

In most cases fire restoration involves a wide range of technical services including water removal and structural drying as well as soot, smoke, and odor removal in addition to actual fire damage repairs and reconstruction.  Besides damage restoration costs for the building, there’s likely to be treatment and replacement costs for its contents — furniture, carpet, drapes, clothing, bedding, appliances, and electronics in particular.

So How Much Does It Cost?  No Simple Answer.

You’ll need to compare a few estimates specific to your particular fire as there’s no rule-of thumb for a bottom line cost.  In addition to the factors above there’s the type and of course extent of the blaze.  “Simple” single-fuel fires may produce little smoke whereas “complex” fires typical of homes and businesses include a range of synthetic materials together with incomplete combustion producing lots of smoke and soot.  And that has a big effect on restoration costs.  There’s also the effects of how the fire was put out.  A carbon dioxide extinguisher adds nothing to recovery & restoration efforts, but hoses and sprinklers douse everything and chemical extinguishers leave toxic residues.

Considering all the variables, total costs can range by a factor of 100, everywhere from $800 to $80,000 (and above).  Only small kitchen fires that were quickly detected and extinguished would be at the low end.  And costs can of course go as far as many hundred thousand dollars for a total loss.

As a little background on how to choose a fire damage restoration contractor, here’s a breakdown of the sorts of costs and terms you can expect to see in those estimates.

Water Damage

Whenever hoses or sprinkler systems are involved you’ll need immediate restoration services to prevent mold, disintegrating drywall, and damage to wood and similar materials.  That starts with surface water extraction.  Then comes extensive dehumidification measures for thorough structural dry out followed by deodorization.  Similar measures need to be taken for your possessions as well.  Again, as a very crude guide costs are typically $2-4 per square foot for water extraction alone.  Altogether dealing with water damage is usually in the ballpark of $1,000 to $5,000… give or take a multiple of 10!

Smoke Damage

With average costs of $2,000 to $6,000 soot and smoke removal are a big part of fire damage costs.  They contaminate building surfaces, furniture, carpet, air ducts, and more.  Besides causing odors they’re toxic, stain many materials, and contain strong acids that can attack just about anything.

Odor Removal

Dealing with odor removal and chemical contamination adds on an average sum of $1,000 to $3,000.  In addition to special cleaning for the building and its contents, counteractants may be used to break down odorous or hazardous compounds.  That includes using ozone generators to reach where cleaning can’t.  Odors trapped in the pores of porous materials are released during warm or damp weather.  These can be neutralized with thermal foggers.  In some situations sealants may be used to prevent the release of odors or contaminants.

Fire Damage

Finally there’s the costs of actually removing and replacing damaged materials, which may go as far as reconstruction sections of the building.  That’s in the $2,000 to $5,000 range for the typical kitchen fire with minimal damage.  But with extensive damage that goes into the $10,000 to $30,000 neighborhood, and can be $80,000 or more for an upscale kitchen or significant reconstruction.


Actually, there are a couple of other items you should be sure are included in the estimate.  The first is city permit and inspection fees.  They’re nothing to neglect, typical running several hundred dollars and even to a few thousand for major reconstruction.  The second is management fees, typically several hundred dollars for small fire & smoke damage projects, but upwards into the thousands for major efforts.  They’re worthwhile in avoiding having to coordinate multiple home contractors yourself and are often completely offset by cost savings from their experience and economies of scale.

Important Tip

Sprinklers flood the area with water leading to removal and drying costs, but on balance offer huge savings in fire damage restoration costs.  Not to mention saving lives!  One rule of thumb is that they reduce costs 90% by quickly limiting the extent of the blaze.  The U.S. Fire Administration reports a typical total cost of a home fire at $45,000, but only $2,000 for one with sprinklers.  For public safety fire sprinklers have been required in most commercial buildings, including hotels, for decades and a growing number of homeowners are recognizing their value and importance in protecting their families.

Fire Damage Tips

Fire Damage Tips – Your Role and What to Expect From Your Fire Department, Insurance Adjuster, and Restoration Company After a Fire

One of the most stressful situations that people could ever go through is a home fire. The stress and disappointment from losing a home and possessions to a fire is traumatic and overwhelming. However, taking action and notifying a restoration company should take place as soon as possible. Even though the fire has been extinguished,  the acid-like nature of soot is causing on-going damage along with any water that was used to put out the blaze. A good restoration company can assist you in handling the insurance claim process which can be very cumbersome and confusing. Any fire damage restoration can be a lengthy process even for small fires. The following are some of things that will and should happen after a home fire.

The Fire Department Will Handle All Safety Concerns and Contact All Authorities

The fire department will most often take care of getting the power shut down on the property to make the site safer. In some instances, the water and gas company will also be contacted by the fire department to shut off services.

Know / Contact Your Insurance Providers

The property owner will need to know their insurance providers and call them. The restoration company will also need to have this information so they can set up temporary services during the mitigation process.

No Insurance Company Can Make You Choose One Restoration Company Over Another 

Most insurance companies will try to get homeowners to use their select vendors to fix the property. You have the right to choose any restoration company that you trust. Don’t let them strong arm you! All restoration companies use Xactimate, a project estimating software that gives pricing that has been adjusted for market conditions and competitive pricing and is Insurance Carrier Approved. All restoration companies are also required to offer industry standard warranties. Knowing this don’t let your Insurance Company persuade you to use one company over the other.

Picking a Good Restoration Team is Crucial 

A fire creates smoke, odor and soot accumulation that can quickly render homes and businesses uninhabitable. A restoration team should be fully certified in treating for the effects of smoke, heat and residues caused by fire. By beginning the mitigation process as soon as possible, a restoration service can prevent further damage and return your property to a pre-loss condition as quickly as possible. Good restoration companies are often able to save a property that would otherwise need to be replaced.

Your Insurance Policy Dictates That You ““Mitigate the Loss as Quickly as Possible.”

Estimates are NOT required contrary to popular belief. Insurance agents often instruct individuals to get estimates prior to letting work begin but your insurance policy dictates that you are to “mitigate the loss as quickly as possible.” In fact, if you don’t there is a chance for the insurance company to deny the claim. All estimates and scopes ARE reviewed by the insurance company prior to any funds being released, but final pricing is largely determined by the insurance company itself and agreements are generally reached easily once the work is in progress.

Initial Estimates Can Change Quickly, Especially With Fire Losses

Fire losses are much like an onion – many times, all is not known until the work begins and layers of structure are removed. The scope of work will often change dramatically during the process depending upon what is discovered.

What The Insurance Adjuster’s Job Entails

The insurance adjuster will begin the assessment by trying to understand the integrity of the structure first, as safely entering the building/home is critical to further inspection. Other first steps will be securing and weather proofing the structure with board-ups and/or tarping. These are considered emergency services. The goal of the adjuster is to set what insurance companies refer to as “reserves.” This is a legal requirement they must fulfill. However, this is largely a ballpark estimate and is subject to change for reasons mentioned above.

Figuring Out the Structural Damage

Be aware that homes with structural damage can be rebuilt even if there is a damaged roof, wall, doors and windows. This will be the initial goal of the restoration company and the insurance company. It is remarkable what fire can do but moreover, how well a property can recover from the damages due to fire. If it is determined that the home is a total loss, please understand that a good restoration company can fully salvage and restore a multitude of seemingly lost contents. Technology has advanced methods and things that were once considered lost can now be completely restored. But time is of the essence when dealing with any of your contents! Keep in mind that safely entering the premises will take precedence over any and all salvage activity.

Examining The Contents Of Your Home

A good restoration contractor will inventory and photograph all of your home’s contents. In some instances you will be consulted on the final list to assist in its valuation. There are generally 3 categories… Salvageable, Non-Salvageable, and Gray Area. The gray area category generally refers to contents that are cleanable, but have suffered irreparable damage. Unfortunately, most often these are items of sentimental value.

A Good Restoration Company Will

  • Provide care and compassion in addressing the people involved as well as the property
  • Board up/Tarp up services
  • Implement the fire damage restoration
  • Handle the structure cleaning
  • Remove smoke and odor
  • Restore the contents of the home as best as possible
  • Pack-out/move-out all contents for heavy cleaning
  • Store the contents

A good restoration company can make sure a fire damage restoration is done right and that you’re out of pocket damage liability is kept to a minimum. We’ve helped numerous home and business owners and they and their insurance company always appreciate our surgical approach to restoration!

Contact Us for a free consultation – ServiceFirst Restoration Inc. (855-883-4778)