After a fire is put out, the story isn’t over.
Fire damage in your home is a serious problem and repairing it is almost certainly going to require professional help. You shouldn’t reenter your home until firefighters have declared it safe to do so. Entering a building after it has been burned can be dangerous, with toxic chemicals present in smoke residue or dirty water.
It is a good idea to look into acquiring a copy of the “fire report” from the fire department. This report summarizes the fire department’s knowledge of the condition of your house leading up to and following the fire and a description of the fire itself. It may contain information useful to your insurance company and any restoration company you or your insurance hire.
Talk to you insurance company.
See what immediate actions, such as pumping out left over firefighting water, are required or recommended by your insurance. If you don’t own the property, talk to the owner about what needs to be done. You insurance company may recommend particular ongoing actions or may have a list of trusted companies to talk to about restoration services. They may also help you find somewhere to stay will your house is restored. If you have no home insurance, research community organizations that can help you. The fire department may be able to direct you to appropriate resources.
If it declared safe to reenter your home, inventory important and valuable documents like birth certificates, passports, mortgage or Social Security cards. If they are damaged they need to be replaced. It’s possible to replace burnt cash if you take it to your regional Federal Reserve Bank. You also should talk to your insurance company to figure out the value of your home and property. Except for very minor fires, you will probably need a professional evaluation of the damage to your home and what will need to be done.
Remediation, Restoration, and Reconstruction.
For all but the most minor fires, it is advisable to call in professional help to restore your home from fire damage. Not only does the fire itself burn objects and parts of your home, the smoke and soot coat surfaces. This can contain partially combusted compounds that are dangerous for your health and damage the surfaces they rest on. Certain materials when they burn produce toxic smoke. Additionally, fire fighters likely used copious quantities of water and potentially chemical firefighting agents on your home, compounding the damage. Your house might have its structural integrity threatened, making entry to portions unsafe.
Once you’ve selected a trustworthy company, preferably with input from your insurance, community organizations, or the fire department, you can begin the process of restoring your home. A reliable company should communicate clearly with you about the damage they’ve identified, what measures they’ll take, and how much they think it will cost. They should be able to remove smoke odor and clean soot from fabrics or carpets. They should dispose of all wastes properly and safely. Work should be quick, since you want to be able to move back in to your house as soon as possible.
Ideally, you will be able to get the services of a restoration company as quickly as possible and pay for it with your insurance.