The often irreparable damage brought about by fires is truly a nightmare even to the most seasoned homeowner. In such cases, fire damage may be so extensive that what may be left standing (if there is ever really left standing) are so extensively damaged that it would be impossible to ever use them again. In these cases, perhaps the most ideal thing to do is to leave the fire ravaged area to the fire damage professionals.
Before understanding the need for professional help in terms of managing fire and its consequent damage to property, it is inherent in us to first learn a few basics about fire.
Fire is a chemical process that starts when a heating element raises the temperature of a combustible material to the point of combustion. When this point is reached, the molecules in the combustible material go haywire in such a way that they collide with oxygen molecules in the air. The resulting reaction between oxygen in the air and the highly unstable molecules in the material produces fire.
Fire therefore, is produced when heat, combustible material, and oxygen are combined in an intricate process of chemical reactions. The main thing to understand here is that removing any one of these three elements will not produce fire. The problem however, is that as something burns, it gives off more heat and this further fuels the fire. This is the reason why professionals have to be called-in in cases of massive fires because no amount of self-initiated firefighting will ever douse a big fire.
Fires produce irreplaceable and often irreparable damage to property and belongings. Depending on the nature or type of the material that was burned or heated by fire, the resulting fire damage can range anywhere from manageable to total charring beyond recognition.
Wooden fixtures as well as materials made of carbon are easily burned and thus are very difficult to restore, if ever there is a chance at all. Metal and solid steel fixtures offer the best possible endurance against fires although these materials can readily store heat for an extended period of time making them as dangerous as ever. Leather and rubber, although flame resistant, can readily succumb to the damaging effects of heat that they melt away because of the extreme temperatures. These materials can also emit potentially hazardous fumes that can greatly add to the overall damage brought about by the fire.
Now, fire eats away at the very basic foundation of any structure, especially those that are primarily composed of wood and other organic materials. This is the reason why a lot of modern homeowners are now opting for the fully concretized home designs or the integration of metal and steel products in the construction of the building structure. Aside from offering varying degrees of protection from fires, these materials also offer a certain degree of safety in its strength and reliability to withstand extreme temperatures.
If the fire is only minimal that it has only affected a part or a portion of your home, then you can rejoice because there are a lot of things that can be done.
Do it Yourself
Fires that can be managed by the homeowner and his family or the entire neighborhood will often have something left to look back to. Depending on the kind of fire and the part of the house that caught fire, homeowners can perform these very simple things to minimize fire damage.
1. Switch off the main power supply to the house in order to prevent further aggravation of the fire. Flames can easily eat away the protective covering of electrical wires exposing them to the outside environment which can produce electrical sparks that can only worsen the fire. Furthermore, the risk of accidental electrocution is effectively prevented this way.
2. Open all possible access to and from the house in order to dissipate heat into the environment and reduce the chances of the heat fueling the fire further.
3. Whenever possible, remove all other materials or objects near the fire especially those that can easily catch flames and ignite themselves. You can ask other adult members of the household to help you with this task.
4. Never ever use water to douse the fire because there have been many instances when the fire only grew a lot bigger because of the water. This is because water naturally contains oxygen and oxygen is a necessary ingredient in producing fires. Instead of water, you can throw in sand into the fire because the small grains of sand are mostly silicate that have very high heat indices.
5. If you have a fire extinguisher in your home, now is the best time to use it. Just make sure to carefully read the instructions first on how to operate the extinguisher before attempting to put out the fire.
6. Once the fire has been placed under control, do not go back to the burned area immediately. Instead, allow a couple of hours before entering the part of the house that was burned so that the heat would have dissipated by this time.
7. Look for items or personal belongings that you can still save or restore yourself by properly and thoroughly cleaning them. Place items that need very extensive cleaning and restoration work in a separate container. Things that are hardly recognizable should be placed in another container to be discarded.
8. Call in professional companies that provide fire damage cleanup and restoration services to help you with the cleaning and restoration of the severely damaged items and belongings.
9. Contact your insurance agent and report the incident to them. The fire damage cleanup and restoration company can actually help you get your documents ready for an insurance claim. Just make sure that your property is properly covered by your insurance company, though.
When Professionals are Needed
The preceding tips are more for the manageable types of fire where the resulting damage may be minimal. However, in cases of massive fires, there is only one thing homeowners need to do – call in the professionals.
1. Only professional firefighters can effectively put a big fire under control using technology and knowledge about the behavior of domestic fires. Call 9-1-1 the moment you realize that the fire will be eating your house anytime soon and get everyone out of the house immediately. Save as many items as you can, preferably those that are really important and valuable to you, as long as you get yourselves out of the house at the soonest time possible.
2. Once firefighters have put out the fire, professional fire damage companies can come in. the very first thing they will be doing is to board up the windows, doors, walls, and ceilings of the house. These are temporary support measures so that the whole house will not collapse because of a severely compromised structural integrity.
3. With the board up established, professional fire damage companies will then perform a thorough and systematic diagnostic assessment of the whole structure. This is done in order to identify potentially weak parts of the house that are highly susceptible to collapse. Structural issues such as cracks and loosened materials will be first managed by these professionals before other people will be allowed to move in into the burned house.
4. By carrying out these preliminary steps in managing fire damage, professional companies pave the way for other members of the team to conduct thorough fire damage cleanup and restoration inside the burned structure. Knowing that the board up structures will protect them from possible structural building collapse, these professionals can go about their craft unabated. As these professionals perform cleanup and restoration activities, they are simultaneously performing additional diagnostic assessments to further cover areas that were missed by the preliminary assessment.
Only the Best
In essence, the management of fire damage is greatly dependent on the nature and extent of the fire damage itself. Minimal fire damage can already be managed by the homeowner himself, with the assistance of the entire household if not the entire neighborhood. Cleanup and restoration will be a lot easier for this type of fire such that the only time professional companies may be called in to help will be in situations where the fire damaged articles have been severely damaged. Such instances will require professional fire damage restoration services.
Now, in cases where the fire has literally burned a house down to the ground, the only professional help one will need is that from professional firefighters. However, if the house is still left standing even after a massive fire, professional fire damage cleanup and restoration companies will have to be called in. These professionals will be providing the temporary supportive measures to render the whole building relatively safe to work on as well as preliminary diagnostic assessment tests that will help determine the overall integrity and rigidness of the whole structure. Once these preliminary activities have been carried out, professional fire damage cleanup and restoration companies can then go inside the burned structure and perform various activities that are aimed at saving what items can be still saved, cleaning things in order to help sort reparable from irreparable objects, and restoring fire damaged articles and belongings to their pre-fire state.
Such is the importance of professional companies in the management of fire and fire damage among American homes.