Restoring a Fire-Damaged Community Church: A Case Study
After the devastating fire at New Berlin Road Church in Jacksonville, FL, Paul Davis National, large loss specialists and part of the Paul Davis Restoration franchise network, provided emergency services and disaster response along with demolition, fire damage clean-up, drying and stabilization. The Baptist church congregation was originally established more than 100 years ago on Main Street in north Jacksonville. The newer 25,000-square-foot metal frame church building was erected at 2351 New Berlin Road in 2005.
On the evening of March 1, 2012, a motorist was passing by the church and noticed smoke pouring from the building. Inside, flames from an electrical fire had engulfed the sanctuary and parts of the fellowship hall, kitchen and offices. The fire department was immediately called along with church Pastor Matthew Meadows. At the same time, Jon Davis, a congregation member and Owner/CEO of Sight & Sound Productions and Mugwump Productions in Jacksonville, became aware of the emergency and recommended that Paul Davis be included as experts on the job.
The Paul Davis National team was on the job within hours of the fire department putting out the blaze. Along with fire and smoke damage, thick soot covered most surfaces in the building, plus water and fire retardant foam was left throughout the structure. An advance team surveyed the site to assess the loss and manpower needs. The restoration firm immediately began to staff the project with restoration technicians, contents experts and local subcontractors.
The crews began to secure the area and provided stabilization, demolition, structural clean-up, cleaning, restoration and emergency mitigation services, and repairs. Also, large scale cleaning of fire, soot and smoke staining was implemented on metal beams, framing and roofing panels, some of which spanned approximately 30 feet in height. Also, repairs were made to the roof and metal studs, plus replacement of the fire protection and heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) systems. Also, electrical equipment was repaired and replaced.
Additionally, damaged items were spared from ruin including the Holy Bible along with religious items from the pulpit, plus the Pastor’s valuable books and church records. Other items damaged included office furnishings, kitchen equipment and utensils, children’s toys and books, among others. These materials were collected and some items wererestored by Paul Davis’ contents cleaning professionals, who utilized advanced technologies in cleaning and painstakingly pursued the hand cleaning of the most valuable artifacts. According to Pastor Matthew, it was a miracle that the fire spared the historic bible, religious volumes, the antique Lord’s Supper Table and other historical objects belonging to the church. The large loss project was completed in early May and prepared for next steps, which will include the eventual rebuilding of the interior space. Currently, the church congregation is meeting in neighboring public school facilities.
According to Howland Russell, Paul Davis National co-owner, the company served as the general contractor on the job and utilized the contents cleaning services of the locally owned franchise, Paul Davis Restoration of North Florida. Paul Davis’ documentation practices served as a valuable method of tracking the contents and books for cleaning and storage.
“This was a multi-faceted loss due to the sensitive nature of the church and its contents. Most importantly, we were able to assure the church leaders and the congregation that the structure would be safe and clean for future use,” said Russell. “The response had to be carefully planned by a team that was experienced in large losses,” he said.
Paul Davis managed and completed the work on time while overseeing the entire emergency services project, and communicated with the church leaders and insurance carriers to ensure that correct tactics and techniques were planned in advance and implemented with a proposed schedule, and with cost containment and technical accuracy.
“The carefully-planned and agreed upon course of action permitted us to complete the work in a timely manner and meet with the congregation’s deadlines for rebuilding their sacred church,” says Russell.