FIRE DAMAGE – WHAT TO DO WITHIN MINUTES
Last week we talked about a small fire and a very large fire. This week we’ll discuss some of the things that you can expect to happen at the point of occurrence.
Of all the different types of problems, emergencies and devastating occurrences a property owner can encounter, fire damage may be the worst on both the pocketbook and the psyche.
Depending on what type of fire you have, there may be a substantial amount of smoke. It doesn’t take much burned material to generate a lot of smoke. Stay low to the floor and get out of the house. Most deaths attributed to fire are a result of being overcome by smoke. A fire can go from smoldering to inferno in just a matter of seconds – SO TIME IS CRITICAL.
Of course, you want to call 911 and then stay a safe distance away – making sure everyone got out safely. Keep in mind that everything in the house can be repaired, restored or replace – except you and your family. In the scheme of things, it’s just stuff.
So now you’re standing in your yard in your pajamas and the fire department has left. Now what? It’s likely that the fire department put a John Wayne on your front door and now it needs to be boarded up or secured if they didn’t do it. You will want to call your insurance agent and ask for a referral to a contractor who you can trust. If you can safely retrieve some needed items (extra clothing, medications, etc.) you will want to go ahead and do that.
The fire department will call the power company and the gas company to turn off those services if the damage is severe enough and it will require permits and interim/final inspections to have those services restored. Thus, another reason to have a licensed general contractor working in your best interest.
You may have to move out to a temporary location until repairs are complete, especially if the power or gas is turned off. The insurance company should pay for this – as well as meals, so be sure to keep any receipts until you get a check from them. Some insurance companies are more “customer service” oriented and some are just downright stingy. Don’t let them make you feel like you did something wrong. It could happen to anyone.
As mentioned earlier, if it can be repaired or restored, then the insurance company will want to go that route if it will save money. There are specialty dry cleaners who can achieve remarkable results, conservators who can clean fine art objects of all types – please see our Facebook page and notice our “likes.” Of course, our trained, skilled and experienced technicians can handle all of your needs from cleaning the general content items to repairing the entire structure if needed.
Next week, we will go through the different types of fires and the particular challenges each one presents…