In a typical scenario after a fire, when the fire trucks leave the property and the caution tapes are torn down, most people think that the danger is no longer present. However, lurking underneath the ashes there may remain other hazardous conditions. That is because during the fire, some volatile vapors and soot residues accumulate on structural surfaces and contents. This usually happens by the rising, expanding air, as well as the mechanical and/or current driven air, which transfer those elements to different areas and surfaces of the property.
Pro-longed neutralization, cleaning, and corrosion control leads to higher restoration costs as well as escalating cost of damages. Combustion releases harmful toxins into the environment capable of aggravating respiratory illness, or other medical conditions. The following is a timeline of the effects of fire and smoke on a home:
Minutes: Acid soot residues cause plastics to yellow; small appliances located close to the source of combustion discolor; highly porous materials (marble, alabaster) discolor permanently.
Hours: Acid residues stain grout in bathrooms; fiberglass bath fixtures may yellow; uncoated metals tarnish, counter tops may yellow; finishes on appliances, particularly refrigerators, may yellow; furniture finishes may discolor.
Days: In time, acid residues cause painted walls to yellow permanently; metal corrodes, pits and rusts; wood furniture requires refinishing; vinyl flooring requires refinishing or replacement; clothing becomes soot stained; upholstery stains permanently.
Weeks: Restoration costs escalate tremendously. Synthetic carpet fibers may yellow or discolor permanently; silver plate is corroded permanently; glass, crystal, china may require replacement due to severe etching and pitting caused by prolonged exposure to acid soot residues.
Fire and Smoke Restoration Services
- Content Protection and Pack-out
- Emergency Board-Up and Security
- Establish Containment Barriers
- ICRA Compliance Containment (Class 4)
- Remove Contaminated Materials
- Clean and Sanitize Area
- Monitor Equipment Daily
- Shrink Wrap
- Emergency Power
- Climate Control
- Electronic Restoration
- Contents Restoration
Effects of Fire
Listed below are summaries of several topics, including heat damage, fire residues, fire odors and toxicity of fire residues. Each topic includes a brief description and potential effects to the property and health hazards of the occupants. The purpose of this section is to educate and inform the public of the effects of fire within a property and the importance of timely remediation.
Heat damage occurs as a continuum, from superficial damage to destruction, and depends on the heat level, its duration and nature of the material. Several factors provide a basis for distinguishing fire related damages, including height, proximity, exposure, response and mass. During fires, heated air rises and migrates to cold areas. As air is heated (for every 10 degrees increase in temperature air pressure doubles) pressure enables smoke and fire to penetrate minute cracks, crevices, voids and cavities. Heat from fires is transferred through convection, radiation and conduction causing extensive damage to building materials, contents and surfaces. During the combustion and pyrolysis phase production of nitrogen oxides (gas produced by burning organic compounds) and sulfur dioxides (gas produced by the burning of inorganic compounds) are formed. Pyrolysis of burning materials result in the production of substantial amounts of hydrocarbons, the heavier of which condense as tar. Presence of sulfur can lead to the formation various compounds including thiols. Thiols tend to get absorbed on surfaces and produce a lingering odor even long after the fire. Combustion releases harmful toxins and carcinogens into the environment capable of aggravating respiratory illness, or other medical conditions.
Fire Soot Residue & Odor
Smoke (or soot) consists of the airborne solids, liquids and gases generated by combustion. Smoke is not a uniform substance. Separate phases of the same fire may generate more than one type of smoke, and deposit different residues. Fire residues may be easily smeared, or nearly invisible. Residues bond to surfaces in varying degrees, depending on the nature of the surface as well as the residue. Soot is generated and propelled by the energy of burning fire, mechanical and/or convection currents of air throughout the structure and deposits them within, and on the surfaces of the structure. Over 4,000 chemicals have been identified as by-products of combustion in a structure. Soot and smoke is influenced by heat, pressure, impingement (velocity substance contacts surface) and magnetism (attraction of smoke on metal surfaces). Smoke residues, combined with humidity or moisture create acids. As the acid remains in contact with building materials and surfaces, slow degradation occurs and will continue if not treated. Pro-longed neutralization, cleaning, and corrosion control leads to higher restoration costs as well as escalating cost of damages.
It has been well documented that odors have powerful links to memory or emotion. People tend to experience odor rather than detect them. Odor is characteristic of smoke. It is conveyed with smoke and its deposits as a component of the combustion residues. Even when residues are to fine to be visible, their presence may be indicated by odor. The retention of odor is directly related to the surface texture and porosity.
4 Steps of Odor Removal
Cleaning up soot residue must be done as quickly as possible. During combustion, soot residue and volatile vapors are carried by rising and expanding air to surfaces throughout a structure and are deposited. This process occurs repeatedly until combustion ends, with soot residue building up on surfaces layer by layer. By the time restoration technicians arrive, lacquer-like soot residue may be quite difficult to dissolve and remove.
In addition to removing residue, ridding your home of its smoky odor is necessary. Rescue Restoration uses this four-step process to remove odors:
Step 1: Remove the soot and source of the odor, as possible, including unsalvageable debris that contributes to odor generation and recontamination of cleaned and deodorized areas.
Step 2: Clean salvageable surfaces and items to physically remove odor-causing residue.
Step 3: Chase remaining odor with an odor counteractant. In the case of smoke, create a deodorizing fog or gas that seeks out and combines with odor-causing substances.
Step 4: Seal salvageable surfaces that are inaccessible or slightly scorched, not only for aesthetic purposes, but primarily to encapsulate odor and prevent progressive recontamination.
- Contact your insurance company/agent and file a claim. Once an adjuster is assigned, they will help you find temporary living quarters and help with your immediate needs.
- Plan to protect your property from further damage or theft. This includes boarding up broken windows and doors, providing temporary power and drying down building to prevent water damage.
- Take valuables if home is uninhabitable.
- Keep all receipts for additional living expenses.
- Enter the property that has sustained heavy damage until allowed by inspector.
- Disturb the origin of the fire.
- Throw away anything damaged by the fire.
- Enter the premises if you have a preexisting medical condition that may be aggravated by smoke odor.
Benefits of Fire Damage Restoration
Rescue Restoration understands a quick response is imperative. Immediate remediation is key to controlling any escalating costs. The longer the remediation is delayed, the higher the cost of restoration. Rescue Restoration has the knowledge to test materials and apply the restoration techniques required to return the items to their pre-loss condition. Call 1-844-GO-RESCUE
- Salvage Valuable Building Materials, and Personal Items
- Substantially Reduces Reconstruction Costs
- May Prevent Secondary Damage and Corrosion of Building Materials and Contents.
- Reduces Additional Living Expenses
- Reduces or Prevents of Business Interruption