How to Handle Fire Damage Restoration
One of my favorite parts about working in the restoration industry is that every day our brand has the opportunity to change people’s lives. It’s always top of mind for me to remember that we are called on by our customers during some of the most difficult periods they will experience. While a fire is a devastating occurrence, I’m honored by the opportunity we have to be the ones to help customers pick up the pieces and get them back to their everyday life as soon as possible.
However, because we are in the trenches of dealing with fires and restoring the damage they leave each day, we sometimes forget the impact our work has. I’m thankful I could be reminded of this in January during our annual convention. Our franchise network gathered to celebrate accomplishments and reward those who have gone above and beyond, but the moment that stands out the most is when we were able to hear firsthand the impact fire restoration had on Grammy Award Winner Sir Earl Toon from Kool & the Gang.
For many, New Year’s Eve is a time of celebration with family and friends, and while some were shooting fireworks and ringing in the New Year, Sir Earl Toon and his family began 2018 with an electrical fire that left damage in their Dallas home.
Like every customer, his family needed their home to be livable again. Enter fire restoration professionals.
Throughout the fire restoration process, he became inspired by the experience and those professionals who were helping his family put the pieces back together. He was so thankful for the work that was done to restore their lives that he has become passionate about sharing just how important the work we do is.
The roles of restoration professionals
The sad truth is that in the United States there is a fire every 24 seconds. This means that every 24 seconds we have the opportunity to serve our community in a big way.
I saw how big a community can be served firsthand during the 2018 wildfire season in California. It was the deadliest and most destructive wildfire season on record, and while most of the country experienced this through television, there were millions directly affected by the flames that destroyed their homes and communities.
Our own Restoration 1 of Chico has been directly affected by the Camp Fire – the deadliest and most destructive wildfire in California history to date. In the heart of the territory they serve, nearly 20 percent of the structures were completely burned. Following the fire, they still have months of restoration jobs left to complete, with most of their day-to-day work being with smoke restoration.
While I’m always proud of the technical work we do, what makes this team stand out is the heart they have for serving their community. What we do is about more than restoring property, and they proved it.
When a 90-year-old couple needed their home to be cleared of smoke damage, they moved heaven and earth to make it happen, and to make it happen quickly. When a community member lost his home and vehicle to the fire, these guys raised enough money to provide him a truck and offered him a job to support his family.
While there is more to our job than the restoration piece, that is the bread and butter of what we do, and it’s imperative that we do it well.
The three types of property damage to examine: water, fire and smoke.
Water Damage: Water is not technically fire damage, but it is generally inserted into the equation due to the local fire department using powerful water hoses to put out the fire. All of that water goes straight into the home. Once the fire is out, restoration professionals need to remove all components that have been affected by water because if the water damage isn’t resolved properly, it can lead to mold, mildew, and even wood rot.
Smoke Damage: Next, we have smoke and soot damage, both of which lead to discoloration, harmful odors, and contamination in the home. The smoke can also settle into all fabrics, furniture, and possessions, leading to a thick film over everything.
Fire Damage: Lastly, we have the primary source of damage: fire. The flames from even the smallest of fires can quickly create dangerous conditions, destroying cabinets, furniture, and appliances in minutes.
Now that we know what damage to look for, here are five basic steps in fire damage restoration.
- Remove all damaged components. If there are any unsafe components that cannot be restored, they should be removed from the home or property. Taking shortcuts here can cause these problems to worsen in the long run.
- Remove flooring. To prevent the collection of soot, dust, and other harmful elements, remove any floor coverings that could promote an unhealthy or unsafe environment.
- Evaluate the structural framing. It’s important to be sure that all unseen parts of the house, such as framing and subfloor material, are up to safety standards.
- Treat for odor and contamination. If the structure’s framing can be saved, treat it with odor counteractants that ensure no microbial contamination is present.
- Remove or restore the HVAC system. A critical step is to remove or restore the property’s HVAC system. Doing this will ensure no harmful particles will spread through the air and cause future health problems.
At the end of the day, our job is to restore, but we should remember we can go beyond that. There are other ways we can serve our communities beyond fire restoration. At Restoration 1 we do our best to educate the public on what they can do to prevent fires. Whether you share tips on social media or get in the community to talk to neighbors, education can go a long way.
Providing service and education to the community earns a type of respect that puts your business above all others. When our customers are calling on our services, it’s during a time they’re experiencing hardship. Let’s never forget our job doesn’t end at restoring their property, we should create a positive atmosphere and provide a sense of hope that in the wake of tragedy, good things are ahead.