Recent Fire Damage Posts
Nine Deep Frying Safety Tips to Help Homeowners Avoid a Fire Damage Disaster
Blog Summary: SERVPRO of Waxahachie/Midlothian offers nine tips to make deep frying a safer experience.
A fire damage disaster can strike at any time and often without warning. When it does, life is suddenly filled with stress, worry, and sometimes fear. The team at SERVPRO of Waxahachie/Midlothian lives and works in this community. When neighbors suffer fire damage, smoke damage, or water damage due to any size disaster, the SERVPRO professionals are the premier cleanup and restoration company in the region who can quickly restore the damaged property to a state “Like it never even happened.”
Awareness of the Dangers of Deep Frying
Texans love to cook, and they are good at it! Many homeowners have met the COVID-19 challenges of shutdowns, social distancing, and self-quarantines by re-orienting their culinary activities to include more deep frying in the home, outdoor kitchen, and backyard.
Favorite foods that can be cooked in a deep fryer include turkey, donuts, chicken, French fries, and onion rings. The USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service reports, “While these items are often purchased at a restaurant, deep fat frying is also a popular way to cook in home kitchens. However, deep frying in hot oil can be extremely dangerous. Hot oil can burn people and start fires. If food is not cooked to a safe temperature, it can cause a foodborne illness.”
According to the National Fire Protection Association, cooking is the primary cause of home fires and fire-related injuries in the U.S. Fire departments, on average, respond to over 166,000 structure fires per year, resulting in nearly $1.1 billion in direct property damage. Fat, grease, and cooking oil started fires in fifty-two percent of home fires.
Nine Safety Tips for Deep Frying at Home
Deep-fried foods are a favorite tradition for many Waxahachie and Midlothian families. When safety procedures are properly followed, there is minimal danger involved in the process. The following tips aim to prevent deep frying injuries at home and to make sure that food is cooked to a safe temperature.
- If the preparation of the recipe involves using a pot to deep fry the food item, be sure to have the following equipment available:
- metal tongs
- a thermometer with a pot clip
- a large, heavy pot with a tight-fitting lid
- baking soda or all-purpose flour
Baking soda also functions as an extinguishing agent in case of a small fire.
- If utilizing a store-bought deep fryer, read the manufacturer’s instructions carefully.
Also, take some time to watch several videos on set up, food prep, safety precautions, and the frying process. In many cases, a name brand deep fryer offers professionally scripted and produced instructional videos. Tapping into this knowledge base can result in both better cuisine and a safer experience.
- Never leave a deep fryer unattended.
Leaving unattended items cooking in the deep fryer or on the stove is a leading cause of house fires. The cook can become distracted by social media, a phone call, or a childcare issue and lose track of time. Before long, the smell of smoke or the shrill sound of the smoke alarm will alert the cook to the imminent danger of a fire.
- Use a thermometer to monitor and properly regulate the oil temperature.
The chef will want to make sure that the food is cooked at a high enough temperature to kill any bacteria that might cause food poisoning.
- Avoid overfilling a fryer or pot with oil.
Remember that food displaces oil and may cause spillage. Oil heated to 350 degrees Fahrenheit spilling out onto the countertop or flooring can cause burns, damage the flooring, and ruin the meal.
- Wear long-sleeves while frying in case of unexpected splatter.
Water and oil do not mix, especially if the oil is heated to several hundred degrees. Splatter or a full-blown explosion of hot grease can occur. Covering the arms can also prevent burns from normal oil splatter.
- If frying a turkey or other large foods, the recommendation is to deep fry outside.
Cooking outside limits the damage that can occur in the kitchen should the cooking experience turn dangerous. The backyard deep fryer still requires a watchful eye since the tantalizing aroma of deep-fried donuts, turkey, or chicken can be a great temptation to the family pet.
- Before gently placing foods into the hot oil, remove as much excess moisture, water, and marinade as possible.
- Always allow the cooking oil to fully cool before handling.
What to Do in Case of a Fire Caused Deep Frying
- When hot oil is involved, do not use water to extinguish the fire. The results could be explosive.
- Do not attempt to move or relocate the pan, pot, or fryer until the fire is completely out.
- Cover the pot or pan with a heavy lid. Cutting off the oxygen will extinguish the fire.
- Apply a copious amount of baking soda or all-purpose flour to smother any flames.
- Stop fighting the flames if the fire spreads. Redirect the focus to helping everyone escape to safety.
- Call 911.
With practice and safe handling of proper equipment, deep frying can be enjoyed at home during the holidays and all year long. Should fire damage restoration services be needed due to a deep frying disaster or other fire damage event, the team at SERVPRO of Waxahachie/Midlothian is ready to help restore the damage and give peace of mind to the homeowner.
For more information about fire damage restoration in Waxahachie and Midlothian, TX, contact the office by phone at (972) 935-0827 or email acarey@SERVPRO10932.com.
How Animals in the Attic Can Cause a House Fire
Here to Help
Summary: SERVPRO of Waxahachie/Midlothian cautions homeowners about animals that can cause house fires.
The team at SERVPRO of Waxahachie/Midlothian is highly experienced at providing fire damage restoration for homes and businesses. A commonly overlooked cause of fires is rodents. Squirrels, rats, and other small pests can gnaw at electrical wiring, exposing live wires. Property owners may not realize the unseen structural damage and dangerous conditions that rodents can create in the attic, crawl space, and walls of a home, business, or other structure.
Rats, mice, and squirrels are the most common uninvited intruders. Generations of squirrels may populate an attic or crawl space. Other “guests” include raccoons, chipmunks, bats, and flying squirrels. Groundhogs, possums, and skunks can present challenges, too. Bird infestations in the attic are not so common, but they do occur.
A Nighttime Nuisance
Rodents and other animals can be a nuisance when they find or make a way into a home. They keep the family awake by scurrying in the walls and in the ceiling and attic during the night. Small children can be disturbed from sleep at night or from an important afternoon nap during the day. Some of the noises, fighting, and gnawing can be frightening to residents.
Rats and mice raid food stores in the pantry, on shelves, and in cabinets. The food contaminated by their body fluids and feces is ruined and should be immediately discarded. If left to roam and reproduce, the unwanted guests can quickly create more and more inhabitants that contribute to the problem.
Rats, mice, squirrels, and chipmunks have teeth that continue to grow throughout their lifespan. Much like fingernails that always need clipping, a rodent’s teeth need to be constantly gnawing and chewing to keep the teeth growth in check. Rodents that are unable to constantly chew or gnaw will grow teeth so long that eating becomes impossible. As a result, the creatures will starve to death.
This constant need to gnaw means that a nest of squirrels, a pack of mice or rats, or a family of raccoons can very quickly damage personal belongings, chew through support beams, gnaw insulation to pieces, pierce pipes and tubing, and even cut through electrical wiring with their razor-sharp incisors. Compared to metal pipes, which rodents sometimes chew, a strand of wire coated with softer insulation is a delicacy.
Plugging a hole in the eaves of the roof, sealing cracks in the foundation, or repairing the obvious damage to gnawed timbers or shredded insulation is manageable for the homeowner or the critter control specialist.
On the other hand, locating gnawed wiring may be virtually impossible due to the inaccessibility of much of the wire behind walls, under insulation in the attic, or concealed under the home in the crawl space. The observant homeowner may find some evidence of wiring that has been gnawed or chewed. Of course, the wiring issue should be repaired. The larger question relates to wiring throughout the remainder of the home. Without inspecting every inch of wiring, the results could be shocking!
How a Fire Starts
Electrical wiring can become hot when electricity is flowing through it. The plastic insulation prevents the heat in the wire from igniting nearby objects. When a rat or mouse has gnawed away the insulation leaving bare wire, the heat from the wire or a spark from a short circuit can ignite insulation or other debris near the wire. Sometimes, a hot wire resting against a wooden support beam is enough to start a house fire over time.
Solutions That Work
- Eliminate the risk by removing the intruders.
- Identify and seal any actual or potential entry points.
- Contact a certified electrician to inspect the damage and make any electrical repairs.
- Contact a property damage restoration specialist to clean up the mess left by the “guests.”
- Contact the fire and water damage specialists at SERVPRO of Waxahachie/Midlothian in case the worst happens — a fire caused by exposed wires gnawed by a rodent or other uninvited guest. Fire and water damage are traumatic. Securing the services of experienced professionals who know how to handle the incident from initial inspection and assessment to the completion of the restoration project brings much-needed peace of mind.
For more information about biohazard cleanups, fire damage, and water damage, visit the SERVPRO of Waxahachie/Midlothian website at https://www.SERVPROwaxahachiemidlothian.com. The office can be reached by phone at (972) 935-0827.
Damage Restoration Company Shares Grill Safety Tips for Summer Cookouts
Here to Help
Summary: SERVPRO of Waxahachie/Midlothian offers grill safety tips for the backyard barbecue.
The summer of 2020 is different from other summers. COVID-19 has created somewhat of a meat shortage and higher prices at the grocery store. Restaurants are feeling the brunt of higher prices and limited hours and seating. In their quest for a bite of great Texas beef and BBQ, homeowners are firing up the grill and cooking at home. In pursuit of taste and convenience, backyard grill masters are purchasing both a charcoal grill for flavor and a gas grill for convenience and functionality. According to the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association, 64% of households own a gas grill, 44% own a charcoal grill, and 9% own an electric grill.
With more grills and more grilling, the frequency of grill-caused fires increases. From 2013-2017, grills caused an annual average of 10,200 home fires, according to the National Fire Protection Association. Gas grills cause more home fires than charcoal grills.
Outdoor chefs can prevent fire damage this summer and fall by following these grilling safety tips.
- Grill outside in a well-ventilated area away from the house or any other structures.
Gas and charcoal grills are designed for outdoor use only. According to the NFPA, 27% of residential fires caused by outdoor grills began in a terrace, courtyard, or patio, and 29% of residential fires caused by outdoor grills were ignited on an exterior balcony or open porch.
Pay close attention to overhanging tree branches when setting up the grill. Catching a neighbor’s home on fire or starting a wildfire could be very costly.
- Ensure the cleanliness and stability of the grill. A clean grill is a safe grill. Remove grease from both the grill and the tray below the grill. When using a charcoal grill, allow the coals to completely cool before disposing of them in a metal container.
Set up the grill on a flat, stable surface where it cannot be overturned. Protect the grill or patio by using a grill pad or splatter mat underneath the grill to protect the deck or patio.
- Inspect the propane tank hose for leaks on the gas grill. At the first of the season, check the hose for leaks. Apply soapy water to the hose and then turn on the gas. Bubbles indicate a leak. A flame that will not light or gas smells may be indications of a leak.
- If the flame goes out, do not re-light for five minutes. Turn the grill and the gas off. Wait for about five minutes. Re-ignite the grill.
- Be careful, especially close to the grill. A lit grill should always have a watchful eye on it. Children or pets should not play near the grill. Allow a grill time to cool for at least an hour after use, and wait until the grill cools to move it.
- Use caution when applying charcoal starter fluid. Only use charcoal starter fluid since it resists flare-ups. If the flame begins to die down, do not apply more starter fluid. Flammable liquids such as gasoline are hazardous and should never be used to start charcoal on a grill. Do not use an aerosol spray as a torch to start or restart the pile of briquettes. A charcoal chimney starter is very safe and uses newspaper to start the fire instead of starter fluid.
- Wear fire-safe clothing when around a grill or other source of an open fire.
Clothing can readily ignite. Make sure sleeves, shirttails, and apron strings are not exposed to the open flame of the grill.
Backyard grilling creates culinary memories with friends and family that are not soon forgotten. Always have the means to extinguish the grill or a fire caused by the grill. A bucket of sand, a water hose, and a fire extinguisher are recommended to have nearby in case of fire. Remember, a grease fire is neutralized by baking soda, not water. Never use water on a grease fire.
These easy-to-follow tips will keep everyone safe when grilling out. SERVPRO of Waxahachie/Midlothian encourages everyone to enjoy the summer barbecuing season. Stay safe and stay healthy!
For more information about property damage restoration near Waxahachie and Midlothian, TX, visit the SERVPRO of Waxahachie/Midlothian website at https://www.SERVPROwaxahachiemidlothian.com. Contact the office by phone at (972) 935-0827.
Waxahachie/Midlothian Damage Restoration Company Offers Fireworks Safety Tips
Here to Help
Summary: SERVPRO of Waxahachie/Midlothian urges people to use caution when setting off fireworks for the Fourth of July.
Fourth of July celebrations that include fireworks is an enduring American tradition. SERVPRO of Waxahachie/Midlothian, a fire damage restoration company, urges caution for residents of Waxahachie, Texas, and the surrounding communities of Midlothian, Venus, Maypearl, Mountain Peak, and Ward when enjoying this tradition.
Fireworks Can Be Dangerous
The National Fire Protection Association provides the following fireworks fire and injury statistics to drive home the potential danger that can arise from improperly handling fireworks.
“Fireworks started an estimated 19,500 fires in 2018, including 1,900 structure fires, 500 vehicle fires, and 17,100 outside and other fires. These fires caused five deaths, 46 civilian injuries, and $105 million in direct property damage. In 2018, U.S. hospital emergency rooms treated an estimated 9,100 people for fireworks-related injuries; half of those injuries were to the extremities and 34% were to the eye or other parts of the head. Children younger than 15 years of age accounted for more than one-third (36%) of the estimated 2018 injuries. These injury estimates were obtained or derived from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s 2018 Fireworks Annual Report by Yongling Tu and Jason Ng.”
How to Stay Safe When Using Fireworks
The Texas Department of Insurance offers these fireworks safety tips to know to have fun with fireworks and stay safe.
- Follow local laws.
Some places allow only certain types of fireworks, and most areas do not allow fireworks within city limits or during burn bans. Contact the local fire officials if there are any questions.
- Find out if a permit is required.
Organizers will need a permit from the local fire department if they are putting on a fireworks show for a group of fifty people or larger.
- Hire licensed professionals.
If someone is hired to put on a display for a group, they must have a Texas pyrotechnic operator’s license. To find out if someone has a Texas license, contact the State Fire Marshal’s Office, which can be reached at 1-800-578-4677 or Fire.Marshal@tdi.texas.gov.
- Confirm that fireworks are legal.
Fireworks can be sold only at certain times of the year, typically during a week or so leading up to an important holiday. Besides the Fourth of July and New Year’s, Texas counties have the option to include Texas Independence Day (March 2nd), San Jacinto Day (April 21st), Cinco de Mayo (May 5th), and Memorial Day. Anyone can use fireworks any day of the year as long as they are not banned in the area where they are being used.
- Stay safe!
- Children should not use fireworks, and an adult should always be present when children are near a fireworks display.
- Alcohol and fireworks are a recipe for an emergency room trip.
- Always follow the firework instructions exactly.
- Never shoot fireworks around dry grass, brush, or other flammable materials.
- Never aim fireworks at a home, animal, or person.
- Keep a bucket of water, garden hose, or other water sources nearby for emergencies.
SERVPRO of Waxahachie/Midlothian provides these fireworks safety tips as a public service to the residents of West Fort Worth in the hopes that everyone will have an enjoyable, safe, and patriotic July 4th.
Fire and Water Damage Restoration Process
When a home or business is dealing with the aftermath of a fire, the damage that it can cause to the property structure and valuable possessions can be extremely devastating. Here at SERVPRO, the team understands the stress, confusion, and emotions that are present when dealing with this kind of ordeal. The SERVPRO technicians are highly skilled and certified, as well as equipped with fire damage restoration equipment to take special care of the client’s property and possessions. The SERVPRO team will be there with the customer every step along the way to explain the process to help get them through this stressful time.
After the fire trucks leave, the home or business likely suffers from fire and smoke damage and extensive water damage from firefighting efforts. SERVPRO has the specialized fire restoration training needed to restore a home to its pre-fire conditions.
Every fire damage event requires an individualized solution, but the general process stays the same. The steps listed below illustrate the process for the typical fire damage emergency.
Step 1: Emergency contact
Step 2: Inspection and fire damage assessment
Step 3: Immediate board-up and roof-tarp service
Step 4: Water removal and drying (if water damage is present)
Step 5: Removal of smoke and soot from all surfaces
Step 6: Cleaning and sanitizing
Step 7: Restoration
SERVPRO of Waxahachie/Midlothian hopes that everyone has a July 4th celebration that is safe, enjoyable, and fire-free. The team of fire and water damage experts is proud to serve the local communities of Waxahachie, Midlothian, Venus, Maypearl, Mountain Peak, and Ward.
To learn more about fire and water damage restoration, visit the SERVPRO of Waxahachie/Midlothian website at https://www.SERVPROwaxahachiemidlothian.com. Contact a SERVPRO representative by phone at (972) 935-0827.
Ellis County Smoke and Soot Cleanup
Smoke and soot is very invasive and can penetrate various cavities within your home, causing hidden damage and odor. Our smoke damage expertise and experience allows us to inspect and accurately assess the extent of the damage to develop a comprehensive plan of action.
Smoke and soot facts:
- Hot smoke migrates to cooler areas and upper levels of a structure.
- Smoke flows around plumbing systems, seeping through the holes used by pipes to go from floor to floor.
- The type of smoke may greatly affect the restoration process.
Different Types of Smoke
There are two different types of smoke–wet and dry. As a result, there are different types of soot residue after a fire. Before restoration begins, SERVPRO of Waxahachie/Midlothian-Ennis/Red Oak will test the soot to determine which type of smoke damage occurred. The cleaning procedures will then be based on the information identified during pretesting. Here is some additional information:
Wet Smoke – Plastic and Rubber
- Low heat, smoldering, pungent odor, sticky, smeary. Smoke webs are more difficult to clean.
Dry Smoke – Paper and Wood
- Fast burning, high temperatures, heat rises therefore smoke rises.
Protein Fire Residue – Produced by evaporation of material rather than from a fire
- Virtually invisible, discolors paints and varnishes, extreme pungent odor.
Our Fire Damage Restoration Services
Since each smoke and fire damage situation is a little different, each one requires a unique solution tailored for the specific conditions. We have the equipment, expertise, and experience to restore your fire and smoke damage. We will also treat your family with empathy and respect and your property with care.
Have Questions about Fire, Smoke, or Soot Damage?
Call Us Today – 972-935-0827
Preventing fires in your home
SERVPRO of Ellis County is here to assist your rebuild and restoration needs in the event of a fire. We understand that the best course of action for you is to avoid the fire in the first place. It's appropriate to end this string of fire-related blogs with one that you can act upon now, to make your home a safer place and hopefully avoid any fire damage in the future.
If you have any questions or there is a topic not discussed, your local fire department will also have plenty of resources to use to ensure your home is protected.
To talk about what can be done to prevent fires to your house or residence, it’s, of course, important to get a grasp on what the main causes of fires are. Once we know what might be the source of potential fire, we can then delve into the steps you can take to make these sources safer in your everyday life.
Our experience at SERVPRO of Ellis County definitely echos this source that discusses the common causes of house fires. The ones we run into most often include kitchen/cooking fires, electrical fires, and smoking-related. These are things that we use every day, meaning that many times people become complacent with them. Having a general idea of the common causes of house fires, let’s now take a look at the steps to be taken to avoid them.
Kitchen fires, cooking fires, and grease fires are all frequent culprits of fire damage. There are some basic things you can do to minimize the risks when cooking. First and foremost, never leave your food cooking when unattended. It is tempting to go do something else for 5-10 minutes while you let food cook, but this can have unintended consequences when one stray flame causes a fire that you could have extinguished easily, but how now turned into a full-blown kitchen fire.
Similarly, leaving rags, oven mitts, or anything flammable near the stove or oven only serves as fuel for a potential fire. Be sure to always store these items a safe distance from the heat sources in your kitchen.
Finally, all kitchen appliances that rely on electricity should be unplugged when not in use. While it may be a hassle to plug your coffee machine in first thing every morning, this is much preferable to a fire caused by faulty wiring.
In fact, faulty wiring can cause a fire in every room of your house, not just your kitchen. Electricity is an ingrained part of modern life, and it is not realistic to request you unplug every single device in every room when you leave.
However, there are still some useful tips to help minimize the risk your electrical devices have in your home.
First and foremost, those power cords and surge protectors you use to expand the electrical outlet capacity in your home are a large fire hazard. These should be avoided or used sparingly. Ensure that all electrical wires do not run underneath carpet or rugs, are kept away from water, and any possible heat source. Keep an eye on your electrical devices and their associated cords, if anything seems hotter than is typical unplug the device immediately.
Smoking is the other cause of fires that we see often. Not only does this cause fire, but we frequently have customers wanting us to help them remove the smoke smell from a residence. The easiest way to avoid both of these is to simply smoke outside. The weather may not be the best, but temporary discomfort is much preferable to the long and arduous process of dealing with fire damage.
Your home has a plethora of flammable items that a stray cigarette can quickly ignite. Whether or not you are inside when you choose to smoke, ensure that the cigarette is completely out before disposing of it.
This is a huge cause of smoke-related fires, someone thinking the cigarette is out when there are still embers to ignite other materials. The way to prevent this is to always use an ashtray, and be thorough when putting your cigarette out, to the extent that you can pour water on the cigarette after you are done to make sure that it cannot cause a fire. If you do choose to smoke inside, you should never smoke in your bed, or when you are under blankets of any kind, or near any sources of medical oxygen.
Some of this may seem like common sense, and most of it is not hard to adhere to. The mere fact of the matter is complacency can be a huge determining factor in whether a house is safe from fire damage or not.
The key is to remain diligent, follow this advice and the advice of your local fire department, and have your smoke detector and smoke alarms checked routinely to ensure they are functioning properly.
With all of this in mind, proper preventative techniques can do a lot to prevent a fire that can harm you, your family, and your property.
Written by: Brendan Gillette
Fire Damage Process
Fires are some of the most sudden and destructive occurrences that can happen to your home or property. It is an unfortunate and stressful time for you and your family, so it is important to discuss the necessary steps to remediating your fire damage and getting your life back on track in the fastest and most convenient manner for you.
A fire damage in your home, much like a water damage, could be from a number of causes. There could be an electrical fire caused by faulty outlets, a kitchen or grease fire caused by accidents when cooking, or could be the result of lightning striking your home.
As there are a number of causes, there could potentially be a number of ways we go about your remediation.
First it is important to outline how the fire process differs from the water mitigation process. When you have a fire in your home, please do not call us first! Call 911 and have your local fire department come to take care of the problem. When that is complete is when we can begin our mitigation work.
The fire department, depending on the severity of the fire, will be the ones who determine when a mitigation company can enter the property. It is fine to call us and give us your information so we can prepare, but we cannot come out to begin your scope until the fire department clears the area as safe.
Now that we have been given permission to enter the building, our work operates a little differently than water mitigation jobs. Whereas we can usually get moisture readings and begin mitigation the same day, fire damages are typically a slightly slower process.
It is assumed in a water damage that your house is fine, and whatever work we do inside will be restoring that house. Fire damages aren’t quite so simple.
Adjusters may need to come inspect the property to deem whether or not the structure is salvageable or not. Similarly, a lot of items that were affected by the fire will be either deemed salvageable or unsalvageable, and your adjuster may want us to come up with that list before we continue work. This process of doing inventory and inspecting every one of your possessions is to determine what we can clean and what we cannot clean is the first important step to getting your restored to pre-accident condition.
Once we understand what can be cleaned, and what will need to be replaced, the next step of the process is called a pack out. This is essentially moving your items that will be cleaned to our safe storage facility so that we can best clean them. This happens for two reasons.
First, we oftentimes need to use an ozone machine to get the entirety of the smoke odor out of your items.
Second, the floors, walls, and ceilings of your house are more than likely also affected by smoke odor. This means if we can your dresser and leave it in your room, the smoke odor will permeate back into the item leaving you in the same situation. It is also easiest to do all of the surface cleanings; your walls and ceilings, as well as carpet and duct cleaning while the areas are completely empty of other items.
After our extensive and exhaustive cleaning is finished, ensuring all of your items are restored to pre-fire condition, the final step before we can put everything back in your house is repairing or replacing any damaged parts of your home.
Whether drywall and ceiling have been burnt during the fire, or your vent hood in the kitchen needs replaced, we are here to help and have a number of professional contractors who specialize in restoration work that can make your home "Like it never even happened."
The final step, once all of this is complete, is to do a pack back. We return your items, clothing, furniture, and place everything back in your home like it was prior to the fire.
We understand this is a trying time. We will work in conjunction with your insurance to ensure that the fire that uplifted your life is in the past and you can move forward in your newly restored home.
Written by: Brendan Gillette
Categories of Fire Damages
When we talk about the different categories of fire damages, we aren’t necessarily looking at the cause of the fire. While there are differences and nuances in regards to the cause of fires on the methods we use to properly clean afterward`, the bigger concern lies in what happens to stop the fire from spreading, and how far the fire spreads.
We generally categorize fire damages as fire, fire/water, or smoke losses.
We will investigate each of these to explain what that means for you, the homeowner, when one of these occurs.
Fire damage is extensive damage to the property itself and your items and furniture. The extent will vary, depending on the source of the fire and the time it took to extinguish. However these jobs will, generally, involve the removal of your items (packout), cleaning of items and of surfaces inside your home, then the return of your items (packback) after any rebuild is complete. This is a lengthy process, but we here at SERVPRO of Ellis County will do everything in our power to expedite the job to get you back in your home as soon as possible.
A fire/water damage is very similar to fire damage, with the caveat that the fire department had to use water or another liquid agent to extinguish the fire.
While the fire department does the heroic work saving lives and property every single day, the addition of water to your home in such large, unmanageable amounts causes more work to be done.
What we are looking at in this case is everything involving fire damage, but also all of the water damage requirements as well. We will have to include a water remediation portion of the job on top of the rest of the fire damage.
You can go back to view water damages in detail in our previous posts.
The biggest thing to realize, however, is that the non-salvageable list will continue to grow as the areas affected by water or whatever liquid agent extinguished the flames most likely soaked your items such as dressers and furniture and while some may be cleaned and repaired, others may have to be replaced.
This is an unfortunate situation to find yourself in, but the first and most important priority is the safety of you and your family and thus the use of liquid-based extinguisher was deemed required. These jobs are more complicated but are nothing new to the professional team at SERVPRO of Ellis County. We will be able to handle your water/fire situation just as well as any other fire jobs.
One other category worth mentioning is smoke. If you have a grease fire, leave the oven on, or have a fire situation that is relatively small and contained, you may very well still have smoke damage throughout your house. This is because smoke often times can travel through duct systems and affect rooms that were nowhere near the original source of the fire.
When this happens, your clothes, bedding, furniture, and sometimes even walls and carpet can begin to smell like smoke. The remediation process for this is very similar to your regular fire job, however, the additional application of an air scrubber or ozone machine on-site to help clean the air of the smoke odor may be necessary.
Often times, repainting is required as the smoke embeds itself in the walls. These types of damages are best cleaned as soon as possible as the longer it takes to clean the more difficult the smell will be to eradicate from the substance.
This is one of the most trying times in your life when you have fire damage your home. This is something that we are here to help with.
Understanding the differences between fire damage, a fire/water damage, and smoke damage will help you better understand the steps you need to take and the steps we will be performing to best remediate your fire damage.
Written by: Brendan Gillette
Packouts and Packbacks
The vast majority of fire damages will result in a partial or complete packout. You can view this as SERVPRO of Ellis County personally moving all the contents of your home to our secure facility, where, depending on damages, your items will be cleaned and restored or simply stored until the home back to pristine condition for us to move everything back.
Because fire and smoke jobs are so closely associated with packouts, I felt this the perfect time to go over the details of packouts and what you need to know.
Packouts happen so frequently because fire tends to leave your items smelling like smoke. Without proper and thorough cleaning, this smell becomes worse and worse and can not only be a nuisance but also can cause health hazards to you and your family in the future. As such, we oftentimes recommend packouts and cleaning of items during most fire damages.
When you have been affected by fire damage, you want to get things taken care of right away. We will work with your insurance for approval to do your packout and packback, and this often means submitting a salvageable/non-salvageable list before we begin the process. We try our best to get approval for all work necessary and get started right away.
Once we are prepared to begin, we bring teams of trained crew members who have performed this task hundreds of times. Packouts and Packbacks are a common occurrence in the SERVPRO of Ellis County family, which means you are in good hands!
Our crews hand wrap and protect every large item such as furniture, tables, chairs, and artwork. Smaller things are sorted and put into boxes. For inventory purposes, we are required to take pictures of each item that is packed out, label each item that is taken, and organize these pictures and labels in our proprietary software to better keep track of your items during the entire process. This means we aren’t just a moving company that comes and takes your items, but we are entering item information and pictures for record-keeping and to ensure that everything comes back and is placed in the right place.
Nothing is worse than moving just to realize you can’t find that one kitchen appliance you really need, or discover you’ve lost half of your sock collection. Our process is more thorough than your typical movers. Everything we do is to ensure nothing goes missing during your packout.
After we have loaded up and moved all of your items to our secure location, we unload and store your items in an air-conditioned environment.
Over the course of the next few days, depending on the extent of the damages, we will hand clean each item that we bring before we pack them back to you. We even have an ozone room, a room dedicated to use with an ozone machine that helps eliminate all pesky odors that attempt to cling to porous items and surfaces. All of this means you get your items returned in the cleanest state they’ve been in since you bought them!
Now that cleaning is complete, we reverse the process. We pack items into our trucks, return them to your location, and even unpack the items if you’d like.
This process, similar to the packout, may take a couple of days or more depending on the number of items we have. We like to do things correctly the first time, every time. So while the process does take some time, it is much preferable to the risks that are associated with a rushed, unattentive job.
The end of your packback marks the moment that your home is restored to a condition "Like it never even happened."
SERVPRO of Ellis County is here every step of the way during your fire damage, and the packout/packback process is one of the largest and most important steps that we take.
Written by: Brendan Gillette
Understanding Salvageable and Unsalvageable
We have mentioned a salvageable and unsalvageable list in previous blogs. This is a precursor to any packout and cleaning we do. We need to make sure everyone involved, including your insurance and yourself, are aware of what is deemed salvageable and what is going to have to be replaced.
At times, the restoration of the item is possible, but cost prohibitive and it makes more sense for your insurance to pay you to get the item replaced. This is a difficult time for you, the insured, and we are going to do everything in our power to assist you when it comes to this list of salvageable items.
The general process includes taking pictures of each and every item and recording their condition. That is something we are here to help you with. Either during the packout process or when we have all items in our warehouse, we are able to record what is unsalvageable and with proper documentation to send to your insurance to ensure you get properly reimbursed for these items.
As a valued customer, we promise to do everything we can to benefit you and ensure your life is restored, starting with advocating for your unsalvageable items to your insurance.
What deems an item unsalvageable hinges on a number of factors. The age, prior condition, any damage that was done to the item, and the relative restoration cost all play a part in what will be included in the unsalvageable list.
Naturally, the rest of the items are considered salvageable and will be cleaned and returned to you during the packback phase of your job.
The factors that go into creating the unsalvageable list and recording all documentation can be found here. This is obviously a lot of work, and we are here to make sure you don’t have to struggle through these steps and help do them for you.
That being said, there are some things you can do to help expedite the process of creating this list. One thing mentioned in the linked article is keeping receipts. This is the biggest and most helpful thing you can do when we are negotiating salvageability and pricing with your insurance.
Receipts that show the original price of your items, as well as pictures from before your fire damage to prove that the damage sustained was related to the fire. These help immensely when it comes to creating and validating this unsalvageable list with your insurance.
If you do not already, it may be best to make a list of all your items and their associated costs and put them together in a file with pictures of all of these items. This is a lengthy process but could help save valuable time in the future in the unfortunate event of fire damage.
One last thing that needs to be clarified is the fate of your unsalvageable items. When insurances agree that an item cannot be saved, and determines payment to you for that item, we are required not to give the item back.
Oftentimes customers will ask for one or more of their unsalvageable items. We fully understand that some items may have sentimental value to you and your family. If this is the case, we need to know as soon as possible what items you want to be returned when we give you our list of unsalvageable items, so that the item can be taken off the list and your insurance can adjust payment.
Nearing the end of your job is too late to return any unsalvageable as the insurance has paid you for those items, and we are obligated to dispose of the unsalvageable items.
Knowledge of what types of factors play into an unsalvageable list will be immensely helpful in the case of fire damage.
Remember, you can do your part now by inventorying all of your possessions with pictures of them in their current state. This can help us, your insurance, and yourself if you do find yourself in the midst of fire damage in your home.
Written by: Brendan Gillette
Fire Damages and Insurance
There are many different types of coverage you may have related to your fire damage, and understanding this now and selecting the right insurance plan could save you time and money in the future.
Often people are unaware of their insurance plan, coverage, details, and are mistakenly convinced that the entirety of their fire damage will be covered. What this results in is a large bill to you, and quite the headache if you don’t understand the inclusions and limits of your policy.
This needs to be prefaced with the following: we do not benefit from you increasing/decreasing insurance coverage at all. We are not here to sell you more insurance coverage or scare you into thinking you will not be covered. Every insurance and every policy is different. We are just going to be covering the basics to give you a better understanding of where you may fall, and from there you can determine if your coverage is enough, too much, or too little.
First, we have renters insurance. This insurance is for apartments or rental homes where your items may be affected but you are not the owner or insured for the actual residence itself. Your renter's insurance policy ought to cover fires under the “covered perils” section. There will be a few different coverages in rental insurance with limits and deductibles, so it is important to understand what these are.
Personal property coverage will cover all of your items damaged/destroyed during a fire, up to a certain limit. These may include a deductible that means you have a responsibility for a certain portion of the costs before the policy begins paying for damages.
Loss-of-use coverage is something that will cover any additional expenses that result because you can no longer live in the property you were renting. Not every policy includes loss-of-use coverage, so it is important to check if yours does. This covers hotel costs if necessary.
Another common form of insurance that covers fire damages is homeowners insurance. Fire is one of the named perils that is covered. Generally, this will include dwelling coverage and personal property coverage. Dwelling coverage will pay for the cost of repairing or rebuilding your home. This, along with similar personal property coverage from rental insurance, usually have a limit that is the maximum amount the insurance will pay.
You can look for other fire specific insurance coverages if you are worried that your limit is not high enough to completely cover the cost of fire damages.
Another type of coverage that may or may not appear on your homeowner's insurance is Additional Living Expenses. This, similar to loss-of-use, is for any food, hotel costs, and other expenses that are incurred when you cannot stay in your home.
Other things that often do not appear in your homeowners insurance include coverage if the home was vacant for more than 30 days prior to the fire, arson, when a fire is deliberately started by a person, is not covered by general homeowners insurance, and fires that damage things such as your car, detached sheds, and other property located outside your home would also not be covered. You can look into additional coverage for these items as needed.
There is never a good time for a fire to strike. We at SERVPRO of Ellis County understand that when you are dealing with fire damage, there are seemingly hundreds of pertinent things that must be done to get your house back to pre-fire condition.
One thing you can do is read up on your homeowner's or renter’s insurance, look for a section specifically covering fire, and learn what your policy details are. You are looking for limits, deductibles, possible exceptions, and anything else that may be pertinent. Knowing how your insurance will be handling your fire claim can save a lot of time and confusion in the future.
If you want to read more about homeowners insurance, you can do so here or for more information on fire coverage beyond homeowners insurance.
Written by: Brendan Gillette