Cleaning up After a Fire: Interview with Ryan on Fire Cleaning
Nothing prepares you for a fire. SERVPRO® of Highland Park/ Deerfield understands the frustration that comes after the fire is out.
What are some of the first steps SERVPRO® takes when a homeowner or business experiences a fire?
We walk through the structure with the property owner and adjuster. We determine how much of the property is affected, how we are going to clean it, and see what can be salvaged. Then, depending on the type of fire, determine the steps needed to clean everything. Sometimes we can clean items on site if there is light soot. Other times, we carefully pack up the items, and clean them in our Gurnee facility.
Will all my contents be thrown away after a fire?
Not necessarily. It really depends on the severity of the fire. Anything highly porous may need to be thrown away. Some examples being: plastics, Tupperware, medication, and toiletries. It’s really up to the property owner to choose. We never toss anything without the owner and adjuster approval. We use a system called ContentsTrack to keep track of all the items that we store/clean in our facility. We always document all of the contents in a home with photographs and write everything down. With this system, we always know where every item is in our facility.
What type of items can be saved after a fire?
Non porous materials: glass, epoxy finished woods, ceramics, and plates are a few examples. With light smoke/soot damage we can save many items from couches, carpet, drywall, to furniture.
Can you explain the pretesting process that you go through after a fire?
We walk the entire property to see the extent of the damage. We start testing in the heavier concentrated areas and work our way out. We test the severity of the fire with a chemically treated dry sponge by testing the walls, ceilings, and contents to determine where the smoke and soot damage has migrated. We do a visual inspection to see carbon buildup in ceilings. We note the contrast of the soot build up to see the degree of damage, and this shows us the best way to clean and restore the fire damaged structure. We then determine what can be cleaned, what can’t be cleaned, and what doesn’t need to be cleaned.
How long does it take to clean up after a home has experienced a fire?
Each fire, smoke, and soot damage job is different, and we can’t give a concrete time. Each job is unique and it depends on the severity of the fire and how many contents the property has that have been affected.
- On average, packing out an entire structure usually takes a crew 2-3 days.
- Structure Cleaning, on average, with a full crew of say a single family home would be about 1-2 days.
- Average time for content cleaning takes 1-2 days.
- The reconstruction time depends on what has been affected and needs to be rebuilt.
How long have you worked for SERVPRO?
What did you do before?
What are some of the challenges?
What are some of the rewards?
Helping people in their time of need
During the process, homeowners are stressed and upset. What do you do to reassure homeowners that it will be ok?
Calm, courteous, let them know that we are there to do anything we can to help with process.
How do you manage to balance the homeowner’s needs and Insurance Needs?
We listen and communicate with the adjuster and homeowner.
How soon are you on site for Property Claims?
Depends on the customer’s schedule. If they need us to be there right away, we will be.