Written By: Andy Gurczak

August 27, 2023

Fire and Smoke Restoration: Know the Process

Learn about Fire and Smoke Restoration

Fire and Smoke Restoration Process

Fire and smoke restoration can limit the emotional and financial struggles caused by a fire. A fire can be one of the most traumatizing and frightening experiences. The speed and ferocity of a fire can make you feel truly vulnerable. In the same way, a fire can cause huge amounts of damage and loss to property. Fire and smoke damage doesn’t end with extinguishing the flames. After a fire, families often see their prized possessions and the roof over their heads destroyed. Meanwhile, businesses can find themselves in similar situations in addition to suffering from financial struggles and inability to trade.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, a structure fire occurs every 65 seconds. When the alarm sounds, emergency responders and fire departments answer the call for help with quick and decisive action. Afterwards, the need for fire and smoke restoration remains. Fire restoration is the process of returning the damaged property to pre-loss condition. These repairs take weeks or even months to complete due to the destructive nature of the disaster. Whereas water damage restoration involves mitigating water and drying out the property. Completing this task can take just a few days.

What Is Fire and Smoke Restoration?

The first 24 to 48 hours after fire and smoke damage are the “golden hours” of recovery. An effective emergency responds quickly and stabilizes the facility. This ensures the recovery of as much property as possible. The acidic soot and smoke damage produced in fires accelerates deterioration and corrosion of building components and vital assets. Extinguishing fires with dry chemicals or water is a way to compound the problem. In addition, professionals must neutralize and deodorize the toxic smoke odor left behind.

The fire and smoke restoration process includes quick damage mitigation, smoke damage cleanup and water restoration. Beyond the visible structural damage, contents inside the property also need evaluation for recovery based on a number of factors including:

  • Replacement vs. Restoration Cost
  • Effects of Smoke and Heat
  • Loss of Use
  • Loss of Value
  • Decreased Life Expectancy
  • Sentimental Value

What Does Fire and Smoke Restoration Look Like For Me?

The fire damage restoration process differs entirely from case to case. It mostly depends on the type of property, severity of the fire, and the amount of time passed since the fire.

Steps for Fire and Smoke Restoration

First and foremost, your fire and smoke restoration contractor must receive official clearance to enter the property. Only then can they access the property to assess the extent of the fire damage. Otherwise, a contractor could be entering an unsafe situation and risk injury. After they enter the property, there is a typical procedure that the fire and smoke restoration follows:

1. Assessment of Fire and Smoke Damage

Firstly, a fire damage contractor must perform an assessment of the damage sustained. A professional determines how far the flames and smoke have penetrated into the structure. They also assess how extensive the clean up is likely to be. Equally important, this step assesses the contents inside of the property. At this moment, the professional determines what items to discard and what to pack out and restore. A thorough assessment gives the restoration company better idea of the scope of the project. Also, the fire and smoke restoration company can estimate how long it will take and how much it will cost.

2. Security of Property & Debris Removal

The second step is to secure the property. A good fire and smoke restoration company installs fencing around the property and removes debris around the perimeter. As well as tarp off the damaged parts of the roof to protect the structure from weather and boars up openings in the structure. It is equally important for contractors to seal off the fire affected area from the rest of the undamaged structure to minimize cross contamination.

3. Minimize Damage

Smoke and soot can cause damage even after the fire has been extinguished. You and the professionals working in your home should be cautious of soot staining, as well as mold and mildew, rust and corrosion and the air quality in the home.

Smoke and Soot

Fire and Smoke Restoration: Image of a House Covered in Soot StainingMoreover, soot staining occurs when the soot in the air adheres to surfaces and causes discoloration. Depending on the surface material and the time elapsed, the soot staining may still be completely removed. Regardless, in other cases soot can leave behind a permanent discoloration. Some sensitive materials include metals, plastics, grout, carpeting, textiles and wood. A fire and smoke restoration professional will examine and determine how to properly clean these materials, in effect reducing damage. This is the most intensive part of a fire damage restoration job: clean up. This step involves a lot of manual labor to properly clean smoke and soot from interior and exterior surfaces. In many cases, cleaning is necessary for every inch of the affected area.

Water Damage: Mold and Mildew

In like manner, mold and mildew can become a problem after a fire because of the extinguishing process. Mold and mildew can form quickly, so you should look for any signs of water damage. Professionals will clean up any standing water as soon as possible, before running other water restoration equipment. Since water can soak into walls, flooring and even subflooring, restoration experts employ air movers and commercial dehumidifiers to dry everything out properly. If a professionals suspects water damage, the proper restoration and mold and mildew removal processes will begin immediately. They will remove personal property from the interior of the structure as soon as possible. Likewise, fire and smoke restoration contractor will take down damaged drywall, flooring and other materials if necessary. Installing roof tarps will during this stage to prevent further intrusion of water.

Rust and Corrosion

Fire and Smoke Restoration: Image of Rust and CorrosionEqually important is to look out for rust and corrosion in any metal that oxidizes. Water is the biggest cause of rust and corrosion. This is true for any metal, but especially for small electronics that contain metal. If the components and conductors in the electronics corrode, the item often is irreparable, and the risk of electrical shock is increased.

Air Quality

Fire and Smoke Restoration: Image of an Air Scrubber

Air quality is also a major concern after a fire and should be one of the areas a professional should focus. This is especially true if you detect any lingering odors. Smoke damage cleanup begins by using air scrubber and air mover to clean the air. Smoke-damage cleaning products should be used on any surfaces that have absorbed the smoke. If there is any smoke-damaged furniture to save, professionals should begin the smoke-damage restoration process immediately. This will increase the chance for a complete restoration.

4. Remove Personal Possessions too Damaged to Restore

Remove any items from the home that are too damaged to repair. Take extra caution in touching electrical machines or appliances since they can store electricity even after they’re unplugged. Likewise, it may be necessary to remove items that don’t appear to be damaged by the fire. This is so you can prevent the items from being contaminated any further. In fact, a professional can clean these items and prepare them for when the home restoration is complete.

5. Fire and Smoke Restoration as well as Construction

Finally, to return the property to pre-loss condition professionals must perform any necessary fire damage repairs or rebuild fire-damaged areas. In some fire damage cases, parts of the structure may be completely unsalvageable and therefore have to be removed and replaced. As a result, a contractor might rebuild and replace the roof, replace electrical appliances, replace and painting drywall, replace flooring materials, replace interior counters, fixtures, etc.

What a Fire and Smokes Restoration Company Does

A good fire damage restoration company is ready to respond to fire damage emergencies efficiently and at any time. They are ready to respond same day to a property disaster to assess damage, secure the property, and begin water mitigation services.
Likewise, fire damage repair companies will also work hand-in-hand with insurance companies to help with the claims process.
Moreover, they will stay in constant communication with you to keep you up to date on progress.
The best restoration professionals go beyond restoring fire damage. For instance, they will with cleanup every step of the way. In the same way, they must work with water mitigation, mold remediation, smoke and fire damage restoration services, roofing, interior and exterior construction.



Fire and Smoke Restoration: Image of AllCity Restoration Contractors



How to Select a Fire and Smoke Restoration Contractor

To select a restoration contractor to clean up and restore your property after a disaster is a big decision. These projects are complex and require knowledge of multiple aspects. A fire and smoke restoration contractor knows of construction as well as damage mitigation, electrical, plumbing, roofing, remodeling, ground-up construction, insurance assistance, and complex project management. As a result, you should look for a restoration contractor with the following qualifications:

  • Look for a contractor that is licensed, bonded, and insured
  • Has experience working with complex projects that require coordination with multiple different parties
  • Also, has experience managing restoration projects that require parallel demolition and installation
  • Equally important, is that they have experience working with water, fire, mold damage repairs and restoration
  • Last but not least, hire a fire and smoke restoration company that has experience working with insurance companies on damage claims

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