Recent Fire Damage Posts
Do's & Don'ts for Fire in Your Home
SERVPRO of Western Essex County are devoted to keeping your family safe in case of an unexpected fire. Please review these tips to better prepare yourself for any future disasters:
-To prevent soot particles from being embedded into carpet, try to limit the movement around your home. This will avoid tracking. Also, keep your hands clean as you can further soil upholstery, walls and woodwork.
-Empty your freezer and fridge. Keep doors open to prevent odor.
-Wipe soot from metal kitchen and bathroom faucets, trim and appliances.
-Pour RV antifreeze in sinks, toilet bowls, and tubs, to avoid freezing pipes in case heat is off during the winter.
-Change your old HVAC filter, and leave it off until a professional can check the system
-To prevent soot from getting in or out of the HVAC system, tape your air registers with double layers of cheesecloth
-Do not attempt to wash any walls or painted surfaces, or shampoo carpets/rugs without contacting SERVPRO of Central Union County
-Do not clean any electrical appliances as it may have been close to fire
-Ceiling fixture wiring may be wet and damaged, so avoid turning them on. It may cause electrical shock
Call SERVPRO of Western Essex County For your residential or commercial needs. 866-361-3400
What to Do Before Fire Restoration Help Arrives
Learning that you’ve been affected by a home fire is devastating. While it’s stressful regardless of the extent of the damages, the good news is that if you hire a professional, many of the damages can be mitigated through restoration.
Working with a professional has several benefits—they work with your homeowner’s insurance company on your behalf, and they will also be able to salvage more items in the cleanup. However, as you’re waiting for help to arrive, it’s natural to want to do what you can to get started.
While some things should always be left to the professionals, a few things are safe for most people to do while they wait. If you decide you’d like to start on fire restoration ASAP, here are three things you can safely do:
Getting started on laundry right away is the best way to help the cleanup process. Most things will have to be washed several times, so washing any clothing, bedding or other machine-washable materials with an alkaline cleaner or vinegar solution is a great place to start. Delicate fabrics, upholstery and curtains should be left to professional care.
If weather allows, opening windows and doors will help reduce the smoky smell—be sure to let them remain open as long as possible. While the restoration team will bring industrial-grade equipment to aid this process once they arrive, this is a small step you can take toward helping the process along.
Non-porous surfaces such as tile and countertops can benefit from a scrub with soap and water to cut through the initial layers of grime. Using a mild dish soap or alkaline cleaner is safe, but let the professionals handle the usage of anything more heavy-duty. Cleaning improperly can result in more severe and possibly permanent damage to your surfaces, so anything you’re unsure about should be left to the pros.
SERVPRO's a team of trained professionals can help your life get back to normal and get the cleanup done quickly in the event of a home fire.
Fire Damage Specialists
Fire damage to your home can be a traumatic experience for any homeowner. Apart from the damage due to heat, fire can cause significant damage to your property and belongings due to smoke and soot. The smoke particles can coat walls, ceilings, and almost any surface and cause permanent damage if not cleaned quickly and efficiently.
The particles in the smoke contain unburned carbon that can be very difficult to remove after a fire to your Western Essex home. Not all soot particles are alike, and it takes a multi-step process to eliminate them. It is a job for the professionals who have years of training and expertise in fire damage restoration.
We’re Fire and Water Damage Specialists
As fire and water restoration specialists, we have the training, experience and specialized equipment necessary to restore your home or business. We are committed to providing superior service while restoring your property back to pre-fire condition.
- Fire & Smoke Restoration Technician
- Odor Control Technician
- Upholstery & Fabric Cleaning Technician
- Water Damage Restoration Technician
Call SERVPRO of Western Essex County (973) 994-1640
If your home has a smoke/soot issue, call SERVPRO of Western Essex County today at 973-994-1640. Don't attempt to clean anything as it could make it an irreversible event.
After any fire damage situation, your primary focus should be safety first:
- Is it safe to stay in the house?
- Electrical and "slip and fall" hazards are some of the most prevalent concerns.
- Only do activities that are safe for you to perform.
- Wet materials can be VERY heavy. Be careful!
Have Smoke or Fire Damage? Call (973) 994-1640
What to Do After a Fire
- Limit movement in the home to prevent soot particles from being embedded into upholstery and carpets.
- Keep hands clean so as not to further soil upholstery, walls and woodwork.
- Place clean towels or old linens on rugs, upholstery and carpet traffic areas.
- If electricity is off, empty freezer and refrigerator and prop doors open.
- Clean and protect chrome with light coating of petroleum jelly or oil.
- Wash houseplants on both sides of leaves.
- Change HVAC filter.
What NOT to Do After a Fire
- Don't attempt to wash any walls or painted surfaces or shampoo carpet or upholstery without contacting us.
- Don't attempt to clean any electrical appliances that may have been close to fire, heat or water without consulting an authorized repair service.
- Don't use any canned or packaged food or beverages that may have been stored near the fire, heat or water.
- Don't turn on ceiling fixtures if ceiling is wet. The wiring may be damaged.
- Don't send garments to an ordinary dry cleaner. Improper cleaning
- may set smoke odor
Help Your Fire Department Help you
- Always practice fire drills- Fire drills shouldn’t stop at your job or at school. They are important for families too. Have an escape plan and review emergency exists in your home. Your family should practice crawling low on hands and knees through the emergency exists.
- Make sure street numbers are visible – Fire fighters and first responders need to find where you live quickly. House numbers should be at least four inches tall, visible from the street. Remember that fire fighters sit higher in their vehicles than drivers of regular automobiles.
- Inspect your extension cords- Extension cords can take a good beating overtime, and damaged ones pose a fire hazard. Make sure to inspect your extension cords and discard and that get hot with use. If their cord or outlet strip looks damaged, throw it away immediately.
- Prevent false alarms- False alarms can cost fire fighters valuable time and money. Make sure your fire alarm system is installed by a licensed professional. It is important to test your fire alarm system monthly, and keep it clean of dust and debris.
- Use proper fuel for your fireplace- Never burn trash or paper in the fireplace. Tiny particles of ignited paper can float up your chimney then onto the roof and into the yard, posing a severe fire risk.
- Get the right extinguisher and learn how to use it- Fire fighters recommend a 2-1/2 pound class ABC multipurpose dry chemical extinguisher for your home. This model can be used to put out many types of fire, including those involving wood, paper, plastics, liquids, electric appliances, or outlets. Review the operating instructions for each fire extinguisher you have. Pull the pin, aim at the base of the fire, squeeze and hold down the handle, and sweep from side to side and front to back.
What You Need to Know About Fire Extinguishers
One important fact that homeowners need to know about fire extinguishers is that they do in fact expire. Fire extinguishers last between 5 and 15 years but they all ultimately expire and become ineffective, no matter what fire-fighting substance they contain. Household fire extinguishers are typically filled with dry chemicals (carbon dioxide or halon) and can lose their charge over time. Extinguishers with compressed gas can leak contents slowly as their seals weaken, while those with ammonium phosphate will solidify over the years, becoming unusable.
Some units can be professionally recharged. Check the expiration of the original charge, read on to get a handle on the age and effectiveness of your fire extinguisher. Locate the paper tag on the fire extinguisher. It may not imply an expiration date, but if the oldest date on that was more than 10 years ago, it may already have lost its ability to fight flames.
Additionally, homeowners should inspect the pressure gauge at the top. If the needle is within the green area, it should still work fine. A needle in the red or white area indicates that it requires service. Older models usually have no gauge, which means it would be wise to take it to a professional for testing and, if necessary (and possible), recharging. A professional recharge typically runs between $15 and $20, a bargain compared to a new extinguisher, which will likely cost $100 to $200.
Store a fire extinguisher in a clean, indoor location can help extend its life. Exposure to sun, UV radiation, wind, or rain can cause corrosion, rust, and deterioration. Excessively dusty or dirty environments can hamper the device’s ability to function properly. If the canister is dented or bruised, or if the tamper seal and pin are missing, there’s a possibility that it might explode unprompted. Examine the entire unit and if it’s not in good shape, properly dispose of it without delay.
Common House Fire Hazards you may not be Aware of
Many people do not realize it but there are numerous bad habits we tend to ignore that may spark a fire in our homes. Consider the following hazards:
- Dirty rags- Sure, we’re inclined to pile up rags in a corner, but be aware! Oil soaked rags thrown and left unattended can potentially oxidized, spontaneously combusting, causing a house fire. Let rags dry flat outside or if disposing, use a metal can filled with water and a tight lid.
- Improper use of electric blankets- Yes, even a cozy blanket can go wrong. Never let your pet to snuggle on top, and make sure not to pile extra covers over the electric blanket. Excessive heat build-up can trigger a fire. To stay on the side, keep your blanket on the lowest setting and don’t forget to turn it off when not in use.
- Home Appliances Recalls- A significant amount of home appliances caused house fires in the past decade, some being from defective appliances. To ensure that you are on top of your home appliances, register your appliances with the manufacturers or recalls.gov to see if any of your models are on the list.
- Dryer Lint- Aside from cleaning your lint screen for more drying efficiency, did you know that lint can become flammable? Be very consistent with cleaning out lint from your dryer vent and exhaust duct.
- Excess amount of extension cords- Connecting a large amount of cords for an extensive amount of time can cause a short circuit and ignite a fire. Extension cords are not permanent solutions for a lack of electrical outlets.
- Oven Range hoods- While stoves can be a very common source for kitchen fires, range hoods present potential fire hazards as well. Grease builds up inside the vent hood filter and can potentially drip onto the stove, igniting a probable fire.
Fire in Kitchens
Cooking fires are the number one cause of home fires and home fire injuries. Home fires are more likely to start in the kitchen than any other room in your home. Unattended cooking causes nearly 90 percent of all kitchen fires. Here are some tips to prevent Kitchen fires.
- Never leave cooking food unattended! Fires can happen spontaneously. Cooking food should always be monitored. Make sure if you leave the room, to turn off the stove.
- Avoid any loose clothing. Baggy t-shirts or dangling sleeves can potentially catch on fire while around a stove.
- Always watch your kids! For parents, we want to keep our kids safe and sound from any fires. Try to avoid having your child(ren) around cooking areas. At least 3 feet away from the stove is ideal to insure their safety.
- Try to keep anything that can catch on fire away from your stove stop. This can include oven mitts, wooden utensils, paper or plastic bags, and towels or curtains. Materials like such can generate heat.
- Consider purchasing a fire extinguisher to keep in hands reach in your kitchen.
Prevent Fires in the Workplace
A fire can happen anywhere and anytime. Here are some tips on things we can do to help prevent a fire in the common workplace.
Always ensure accessibility to electrical control panels. Material or equipment stored in front of the panels would hinder the shutdown of power in an emergency. Also, never block sprinklers, firefighting equipment or emergency exits and observe clearances when stacking materials.
Clutter not only provides fuel for fires, but also prevents access to exits and emergency equipment. Keep your workplace as clutter-free as possible.
Proper Waste Disposal
Discard fire hazards like oily rags by placing them in a covered metal container and emptying it on a regular basis.
Make sure the machines in your workplace are properly maintained to prevent overheating and friction sparks.
Report Electrical Hazards
Unless you are qualified and authorized, you should never attempt electrical repairs. Faulty wiring and malfunctioning electrical equipment are key contributors to workplace fires.
Safe Chemical Use & Storage
Always read the label and the Material Safety Data Sheet to assess flammability and other fire hazards of a substance. When using and storing chemical materials, always do so in an area with adequate ventilation.
Precautions In Explosive Atmospheres
Follow all recommended and required precautions to prevent ignition in potentially explosive atmospheres, such as those containing flammable liquid vapors or fine particles. These precautions include non-sparking tools and proper static electricity control.
Maximum Building Security
To help prevent arson fires, always lock up as instructed, report suspicious persons or behavior and never leave combustible garbage outside near your building..
Always ensure that there is a smoke area available and that all workers who smoke on the job are using it. Proper extinguishing of smoking materials should always be enforced.
Fully Charged Fire Extinguishers
Check fire extinguishers often by looking at the gauges and making sure they're fully charged and ready for use. If they're not fully charged or if the attached tag indicates that the last inspection occurred more than a month ago, call for maintenance. Also, encourage all workers to learn how to use a fire extinguisher.
Emergency phone numbers, as well as your company address, should be posted by the phone station for quick access.
11.5 OSHA Guidelines
Adherence to OSHA's fire safety guidelines is crucial for fire prevention. Read through these regulations and make sure your workplace is in compliance.
Making sure your workers return home safely is our mission and passion. Take these 11.5 tips to your workplace and practice true fire safety, which begins before the fire even ignites.
If you have any questions or concerns you can always visit our site, and social media pages to learn more about our system services.
Sound The Alarm Save a Life
In the coming weeks, we will be reaching out to recruit 35,000 volunteers to install 100,000 free smoke alarms across the country as part of Sound the Alarm – a series of lifesaving home fire safety and smoke alarm installation events happening September 23 - October 15.
Sign up now to Sound the Alarm about home fires, and make a difference today!
I hope you’ll be a part of this important effort. Home fires disproportionately harm children and seniors, and most deaths occur in homes that lack working smoke alarms. That’s why the Red Cross started the Home Fire Campaign in 2014 – to reduce the number of deaths and injuries caused by fires in homes by 25 percent. Seven Americans die every day from fires in their homes. By signing up as a volunteer to Sound the Alarm this fall, you can help save those lives.
Did you know that 90 percent of the Red Cross’s humanitarian efforts are carried out by volunteers?
These volunteers are friends and neighbors who care about their community – people just like you. They are a diverse group, but they all share one thing: They know how deeply rewarding it can feel to make their town a safer place to live, and how delightful it can be to get to know their neighbors in the process.
Since we first launched the Home Fire Campaign in 2014, our volunteers have achieved so much: installing 941,916 smoke alarms, educating 884,007 youth about fire safety, and saving hundreds of lives.
Sound the Alarm is part of this ongoing Home Fire Campaign, and if you join us as one of those 35,000 volunteers this fall, we can bring the total number of free smoke alarms we’ve installed as part of our Home Fire Campaign since 2014 to one million!
Sign up now to find an installation event in your community and help save a life in the process! We’re counting on volunteers like you to step up, install more smoke alarms, educate their communities about fire safety, and have fun exploring new neighborhoods and getting to know one another.
The life you help save could be that of the neighbor down the street or your own family across town.
Thank you for everything you do – it really does make a difference.
VP, Humanitarian Services
American Red Cross
P.S. If you're unable to volunteer, you can still make a meaningful difference by fundraising for this cause or making a financial gift today.
How to Help Prevent House Fires
We have developed a list of the most common causes of fire-related losses as well as some things you can do to help prevent them.
Faulty Wiring and Outlets Are One of the Top Causes of House Fires.
- Check the electrical cords throughout your home for signs of fraying, and replace all frayed wires.
- Do not pinch or cover electrical cords with items such as rugs.
- Be aware of the capacity of your home's electrical system. Do not overload your circuits. If you have questions about your home's electrical system, you may want to consult a licensed electrician.
- Understand the difference between surge protectors and power strips—both allow you to plug in multiple electronic devices, but only the surge protector will help protect these devices from a power spike. Use surge protectors to protect valuable electronic devices, such as computers and televisions.
Carelessness in the Kitchen May Also Lead to a House Fire.
- Never leave your pots or pans unattended on your stove.
- Keep a kitchen fire extinguisher readily available and know how to use it.
- Keep your stove and oven clean. Built up food splatter or grease can later ignite when the stove or oven is turned on for cooking.
Clothes Dryers Are Another Common Source of House Fires.
- If you are installing your own dryer vent, follow the directions in the manufacturer’s installation instructions, using the recommended duct material. If you are unsure about how to properly install the vent, consider hiring a professional to do the installation.
- Clean out the dryer vent regularly.
- Clean out the lint filter after each load.
- Lint may also collect under and behind your dryer, so do not forget to clean these areas.
Alternative Heating Sources May Also Create a Fire Hazard.
- Avoid using an older space heater, as it may not have adequate safety features compared to newer units. When purchasing a new space heater, ensure it is UL Listed and pay attention to the safety features.
- Do not place a space heater near furniture, curtains or other objects that could easily catch fire.
- If you plan to install an alternative heating system, such as a wood or pellet stove, follow the manufacturer's instructions. If you are unsure about how to properly install the system, consider hiring a professional to do the installation.
- Before installing a wood or pellet stove, check to ensure it complies with the laws of your state and municipality.
Dirty Chimneys Also Pose a Fire Hazard.
- Have your chimney inspected annually by a Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA)-certified chimney sweep. Have a professional clean and repair the chimney as needed, especially before the cold months, when you will be using it frequently.
- Use seasoned wood only. Never burn green or damp wood.
- Never burn cardboard boxes, wrapping paper, trash or trees in your fireplace—these can all spark chimney fires.
Statistics on Main Causes of Fires
Unfortunately we all know for a fact that fires happen. As much precaution as we take to prevent them, they happen! So then what are the main causes of fires starting? The U.S. Fire Administration estimated that the leading reported causes of fires in non-residential buildings for 2013 was due to cooking materials (29.3%), intentional (9.7%), and carelessness (9.2%). However, The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) broke down the statistics on the main causes of fire in healthcare, educational, and commercial properties.
In the healthcare arena, the U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated average of 6,240 structure fires during 2006-2010.
- 61% of fires were due to cooking equipment
- 7% of fires were due to clothing equipment
- 6% of fires were started intentionally
While cooking equipment seemed to have been the leading cause of fires, nursing homes were more likely to have fires involving clothes washer & dryer. And facilities providing care of those with developmental disabilities, mental illness or substance abuse had more fires that were intentionally set.
In the educational arena, during 2007-2011 an estimated average of 4,060 structure fires per year were reported in educational facilities. And an estimated 700 structure fires per year were reported in college classrooms and adult education centers.
- 13% of fires began in a kitchen or cooking area
- 49% of fires were started intentionally
- 32% occurred in the lavatory or bathroom
Most fires in educational properties occurred in nursery, elementary, middle, or high schools.
In the commercial arena, an estimated average of 3,700 fires in hotels were reported to the U.S. fire departments during 2006-2010. And the U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated average of 3,340 fires in offices during 2007-2011.
- 45% of fires were due to cooking equipment
- 10% of fires were due to smoking material
- 9% of fires were due to heating equipment
Nearly three-quarters of fires in hotels didn’t spread beyond their origin. However, fires that began in a bedroom were responsible for 31% of civilian injuries and 72% of civilian deaths. Smoking materials were the cause of the fire in 79% of civilian deaths.
In Office Buildings:
- 29% of fires were due to cooking equipment
- 12% of fires were due to electrical and wiring equipment
- 11% of fires were due to heating equipment
Although cooking equipment was the leading cause of office fires, it only accounted for just 6% of the direct property damage. Electrical and lighting equipment caused 15% of direct property damage, while fires that were intentionally set caused 20% of direct property damage.
All in all cooking and electrical equipment, carelessness as well as fires set intentionally, are the main causes of fire. So what can you do to prevent fires from happening? Be cautious when using electricity or any kind of heating equipment and make sure your passive fire protection system (fire/smoke dampers, fire doors, and firestop) are inspected and tested to help ensure that your building as well as its occupants are safe in case of a fire.
Fire Safety Tips for the Workplace
No matter type of business you conduct at your workplace, fire safety should always be a main concern. Here are a few fire safety tips you can distribute to your staff.
- Keep your work area free of waste paper, trash and other items that can easily catch fire.
- Check on your electrical cords. If a cord is damaged in any way, replace it. Try not to lay cords in places where they can be stepped on, as this will contribute to deterioration of the protective outside coating.
- Don't overload your circuits.
- Turn off electrical appliances at the end of each day.
- Keep heat producing equipment away from anything that might burn. This includes copiers, coffee makers, computers, etc.
In the Event of a Fire
- Upon finding a fire, call 911 immediately and don't hand up with the emergency responder until told to do so.
- Close doors when exiting to help limit the spread of smoke and fire throughout the building.
- Never use elevators during an evacuation.
- Follow the escape plan and meet at a per-determined place outside of your building and away from danger. Conduct a headcount to ensure all of your staff has evacuated.
The best way to ensure the safety of your staff is through fire prevention and preparation. Talk with your staff about fire safety in the workplace today.
What to do After a Fire
Now that the fire is out, there are a few things you need to know. Here is a check list to follow:
Step 1 - Securing the site
- Protect the fire site from any further damage by weather, theft or vandalism. Do not leave the site unsecured.
- If you are the owner it is your responsibility to see that openings are covered against rain and entry. Make sure outside doors to the property can be locked and secured. The Fire Department will help secure the premises until responsibility can be handed over to the tenant or insurance company.
- If you are the tenant contact your real estate agent or landlord and inform them of the fire. If you cannot contact them and you need professional assistance in boarding the premises, a general contractor for or fire damage restoration firm can help. Check your telephone directory.
- If you plan to leave the site, try to remove any valuable remaining in the building.
- Contact your own insurance agent to report the loss.
Step 2- Cautions
- Household wiring which may have been water damaged should be checked by a licensed electrician before power is turned back on.
- Check for structural damage caused by the fire. Roofs and floors may be weakened. The local Council's Building Inspector may be able to help.
- Food, drink and medicines exposed to heat, smoke or soot may be discarded in the appropriate manner.
- Refrigerators and freezers left unopened will hold their temperature for a short time. However do not attempt to refreeze thawed items.
- The Fire Department will call for the services of the local gas, fuel and electricity suppliers to disconnect services before they leave the site.
- If a utility (gas, electricity or water) is disconnected, it is your responsibility to have the services checked and reconnected by a licensed trade person. Do not attempt to reconnect the service yourself.
- Start collecting receipts for any money you spend. These are important because you can use them to show the insurance company what money you have spent relating to your fire loss and also verifying losses claimed.
Step 3 - Insurance Claims
- Make personal contact with the insurance claims manager.
- Advise the claims manager of loss or damage and give him, or her, a forwarding address and telephone number if the circumstances have forced you to leave the damaged fire building.
- The sooner the insurance company is alerted, the quicker the insurance claim can be processed, as the company has to alert the insurance adjuster to carry out the inspection.
- Try to form an inventory, as soon as possible, of household items either inside or outside the buildings which have been damaged by fire. The inventory of damaged items will further speed the claim when the loss adjuster makes contact. Do not throw away any damaged goods until after the inventory is made by the insurance adjuster.
Step 4 - Leaving your home
- If you have to leave your home because the fire has left it unsafe, contact the local police. They can keep an eye on the property in your absence.
- Check with your insurance company to find out whether you are entitled to stay in hotel as part of a temporary housing clause in your policy, or how soon you might get an advance on your eventual insurance claim settlement.
- Provided it is safe to do so, try to locate the following to take with you:
- Vital medicines, such as blood pressure regulating drugs or insulin.
- Eyeglasses, hearing aids, prosthetic devices or personal aids.
- Valuables such as credit cards, check-books, insurance policies, savings account books, money and jewelry.
Notify these people of your new address
- Your employer.
- Family and friends.
- Your children's schools.
- Your Post Office. Have them either hold or forward your mail, depending on the length of time you expect to be relocated.
- Delivery services like newspapers and milk.
- Telecom and the suppliers of gas, electricity and water.
SERVPRO of Western Essex County at 973-994-1640
We will help to get your life in order after this catastrophic event.
Fire Prevention & Safety Tips; American Red Cross
Did you know that if a fire starts in your home, you may have just two minutes to escape?
The most effective way to protect yourself and your home from fire is to identify and remove fire hazards. Sixty percent of house fire deaths occur in homes with no working smoke alarms. During a home fire, working smoke alarms and a fire escape plan that has been practiced regularly can save lives.