Fires are one of the most destructive events that can happen in anyone’s life. And as a fire damage restoration expert, your work has the power to change lives. 

But not all fire damage remediation is created equal. In fact, it’s easy to make very common mistakes that lead to longer and harder work, impacted results, higher costs, etc. Nuances in technique, equipment and technology a professional uses can make a drastic difference. And they can even be counterintuitive to what we’ve always done.

Let’s go over the top five must-know tips to fire damage restoration every pro needs to know in order to get the best results in the best timeframe, and be able to help more people who have experienced the devastating destruction of fire.

  1. Use 3-D imaging to the max of its capabilities. 

As technology has been advancing, the use of 3D imaging tools in fire damage restoration has been a game changer. However, only one takes the trophy.

At Titan, Matterport is our top choice for restoration project 3D imaging. It captures high-quality 3D images in a virtual reality platform and allows an individual to virtually walk the site without having to ever step foot in the actual building. Capturing 3D images and having a “doll house view” of your job site results in a much higher level of documentation for all materially interested parties, and can aid in the speed at which the scope for remediation and repairs can be built and planned out for returning the job site to pre-fire condition.

  1. Choose deodorizing tools and products wisely.

When it comes to deodorizing the affected area, there are many products and techniques to choose from. But knowing the right product for the right job, and using it the right way, makes all the difference. 

Many restorers prefer equipment like hydroxyl generators to remove the odor within the structure and contents, often without the need to apply a deodorizer or seal any surfaces. 

If you choose to use deodorizers or sealants, seek guidance from a trusted supplier for which product is the best for the project you have on hand. Trusted suppliers will have a full menu to choose from, ranging from odor absorbent crystals, smoke odor counteractant and deodorants, degreasing cleaners, woodcraft cleaner, and much more. Speak with an authorized dealer for these lines of products to understand what is available for each type of need, ensuring you get the best quality product resulting in the best quality job.

  1. Don't forget about the contents.

Whether it's fire or smoke that caused the damage to the site you are restoring, the type of equipment you use for each job is critical, and that includes with contents cleaning and restoration.

In the case of fire restoration, ultrasonic equipment is a very effective cleaning method for soot removal on contents, using high frequency sound waves. Ultrasonic equipment is the best choice when cleaning items that have intricate detail, such as figurines, ceramics, crystals and porcelain. The only downside to it is that it requires a substantial financial investment. However, overall, the implementation of this system can result in higher productivity in-house and a reduction in cleaning time and labor cost.

When dealing with smoke, the biggest problem that can arise (and the most serious) is not removing it properly and leaving a long-lasting health hazard for the occupants. It’s critical to properly remove the source of any lingering odor, and air scrubbers can be a vital tool here. The use of an activated carbon or charcoal filter is recommended for maximum results when addressing odors, and to make the site easier and healthier to work in.

  1. Is it dry or oily soot?

Understanding your soot and using the best technique for the type you are dealing with is something that can make or break your results in a fire damage restoration project. Depending on the materials burned, you will get either dry or oily soot -- and how you approach and handle each one is very different. 

For dry soot, appearing as a dry powdery substance with colors anywhere from light gray to black, precondition the surface with compressed air, HEPA vacuuming, or the trusty lamb’s wool duster. Follow up by cleaning using dry sponges and a low-alkaline detergent.

For oily soot, which has an oily form to it, it is not wise to use the same techniques as dry soot, as this will only spread the soot and create a much bigger problem. Instead, use high-alkali detergents and thoroughly rinse the affected areas that are wet-cleanable. Water-based deodorants can also be used in combination with the water-based cleaning solution you are using.

  1. Be trained in performing fire damage restoration work. 

Last but not least, it’s critical to understand the chemistry of the loss-site.

If you haven't already, it is highly recommended to acquire certifications through firms such as the IICRC or RIA for specific training in fire and smoke odor removal to become better equipped with the knowledge that will help restorers determine the types of fire or smoke they are dealing with and how to properly remediate the damage. Not only will this help you better assess situations and work sites but will improve your validation and credentials when people are searching for a restoration specialist.

Soot residue is a key factor in the chemistry of a loss-site. Source Identification is the most important element in understanding the type of soot residue and odor you have been asked to remediate. There are 3 types of soot residue to consider when developing a plan to remove the source of the odor you are combating. Those are Protein residues, Natural substance residues and synthetic residues, and each one needs to be identified and cleaned with its own special method.

Never Stop Learning!

There’s always more to learn in this industry, and a restoration professional can never be too knowledgeable or too skilled.

Getting the best results in the best timeframe for your customers who have experienced the devastation of fire damage to their home and belongings is deeply rewarding. And not to mention, increases the success of your work and your company. 

But most of all, never hesitate to harness your ability to help as many people as possible with top-of-the-line fire damage restoration.