You’ve suffered a fire at your home…
It may be a total loss, or very minor in nature…
BUT, either way you are probably wondering…
You’ve suffered a fire at your home…
What do we do now that the firefighters have gone?
Here are some helpful suggestions to help you get through this trying time.
Report the fire to your insurance company
After all members of your household are safe and the firefighters have gone, telephone both your insurance agent and insurance company to report your loss. Take pictures of the loss if possible.
- Contact your insurance company as soon as possible.
- If you are renting, contact the property owner.
- Contact the Red Cross for disaster relief services if they are needed.
Get Your Family Settled
If you cannot stay in your home, try to arrange staying with family or friends (often fire restoration may take several weeks to several months to complete). Your insurance company will review your policy with you if long-term housing is required.
Your insurance company will appoint an adjuster who oversees larger losses and will guide you throughout your claim. The adjuster will review and analyze the loss and then work directly with the property owner and the contractor ensuring the property damage repair is completed to return the home to its “pre-loss” condition.
Protect Your Property
Your insurance company often works with preferred contractors that are professionally trained in fire restoration. The contractor will board up any broken windows and secure doors and windows, check the utilities (gas, water and electricity) to prevent further damage to your home. Often the contractor can arrange for emergency laundry service that can clean and deodorize your clothing within 24 hours and will even deliver them to your temporary location.
The site should be firmly secured to avoid further damage resulting from weather, theft, or vandalism.
Content Damage Inventory
Your insurance company will require an inventory of your contents. The insurance company works with professional fire restoration contractors who will help you itemize all damaged contents. The contractor will photo-inventory and document your contents. A copy of a list of the damaged contents and photo inventory are given to the property owner and the insurance adjuster. This process is extremely important in determining the value of your contents.
- Make a clear list of damaged or missing personal property.
- Note, in detail, the quantity, description, original cost, how long you have had the items, the damage sustained and the replacement cost.
- Take photographs whenever possible.
- Do not throw away damaged goods until the inventory has been completed with the adjuster.
Continue all Household Payments
Make sure to keep up your household payments even after the fire. This could include your mortgage, telephone, security systems etc. If you are renting or leasing, check on your lease agreement for a specific arrangements.
Whenever possible, be sure to take with you all your important info, medications, eyeglasses, hearing aids, etc, and any valuables (money, insurance policies, jewellery, cheque books, credit/debit cards).
- Medications (if not affected by smoke or water – check with your pharmacist if you are uncertain)
- Eyeglasses, hearing aids, or other personal aids
- Valuables – credit cards, chequebooks, insurance policies, savings account books, money, jewellery, etc.
- Any firearms
If you must relocate, notify:
- Your Employer
- Family and friends
- Insurance agent
- Mortgage company
- Post Office
- Fire Restoration Contractor
There are companies that specialize in the restoration of fire- damaged structures. Many restoration companies are listed in the Yellow Pages under “Fire and Water Damage Restoration”.
These companies provide a range of services (some of them immediately), which include some, or all, of the following:
- Securing the site against further damage
- Estimating structural damage
- Repairing structural damage
- Estimating the cost to repair or renew items of personal property
- Packing, transportation, and storage of household items
- Storage of repaired items until needed
The first 24 hours
Do not enter the damaged site. Fires can rekindle from hidden, smouldering remains. Also, the fire may have weakened floors or ceilings and you could be injured if the structure fails. Always ask the Fire Department if it is safe to re-enter the house.
Be watchful for structural damage caused by the fire. Roofs and floors may be damaged and subject to collapse.
Your first contact with the contractor who is responsible for the emergency services will be with an estimator who will assess the damage and guide you in the immediate steps to be taken.
The estimator begins the damage repair estimation process, while keeping in contact with you and the adjuster at all times.
Specially-trained Emergency Crews are available 24/7 to assist with the emergency. Depending on the scope of loss, emergency crews will secure your property, check utilities and arrange for emergency service laundry if required.
In order to control the smoke odour, charred items must be removed from the premises as soon as possible. An emergency service restoration crew will be sent to document and remove these contents to the contractor facility.
An air scrubber, with charcoal and HEPA filtration will be installed to begin cleaning the air to make both working and living conditions more tolerable.
Before any contents are removed from your home, they must be photo inventoried, carefully documented and packaged. A copy of all items, listed on content sheets, is given to the property owner as well as the adjuster.
Cleaning crews then use specific cleaners to remove as much soot as possible from the structure. If areas do not clean adequately, sealing and painting may be required.
Any structural work will be completed at this time.
Carpet cleaning or floor cover replacement should be scheduled towards the very end of the restoration process.
Upon completion of all cleaning and structural repair, your salvageable contents will be returned to the home.
If you have had a loss involving your property, rapid settlement of your claim is a top priority. Although homeowner policies differ depending on the insurance company and your personal needs, most policies protect your property from perils such as lightning, theft, fire, smoke, wind and explosion.
Claim Service Center Representative – this is the person you will speak with when you first report your claim to your insurance company.
Property Loss Adjuster – if you have a homeowners claim, you will hear from this individual. This individual represents your insurance company and oversees the scope of the property damage and its restoration from beginning to end.
Contractor – is the restoration company that handles the physical cleaning and restructuring of your home.
Estimator – Is the person who works for the restoration company, putting together the damage repair estimate and overseeing the complete restoration process. The estimator works closely with the homeowner and the adjuster.