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Fire & Water - Cleanup & Restoration

What To Do If You Have A Fire In or Near Your Home

10/27/2020 (Permalink)

Picture shows a house partially burned by a fire This home was severely burned by the Glass Fire in Santa Rosa, California.

A common thing we hear in the restoration industry by customers who are calling to schedule an appointment after a fire has come dangerously close or actually impacted their home is, “I don’t know how this process works.”  Here at SERVPRO of Vacaville/Fairfield/Dixon, we are thankful for two things in this regard - first, that most of our customers do not have any experience with fire previously affecting their homes, and second, that we have an experienced and helpful group of professionals who are ready, willing and able to help at a moment’s notice.  We thought it might be helpful to put together a narrative of what you should do in the event of a fire affecting your home and how to get the help you need to get your home back "Like it never even happened."

If you are evacuated or forced to leave your home because of a fire either in your home or in the vicinity surrounding your neighborhood, be sure to stay out of your home until your local authorities give you the “all clear” to return to your residence.  Once any restrictions regarding entering your home have been released, place a call to a restoration specialist, such as SERVPRO of Vacaville/Fairfield/Dixon and schedule an appointment for an inspection as soon as possible.  Be prepared to provide the SERVPRO scheduler with your name and address, along with a description of what is specifically happening in your home.  For example, can you see evidence of ash inside your home or only outside?  Did your oven catch fire and therefore walls and other areas in your home were burned or subsequently dampened with water due to firefighting efforts?  In the event of a fire in your neighborhood, were windows left open during the firestorm?  How close did the fire come to your home?  Also, it is helpful if you have the name of your insurance company, your adjuster’s contact information and your claim number available to provide to the scheduler.  This will help make the process go much faster down the road.  Contact your homeowners insurance company and file a claim regarding your potential loss.  Be sure to have your policy number, policy holder’s name and address, and the date of the incident on hand when you make the call.  Be sure to write down the name of the claim adjuster assigned to your specific claim and your claim number.  You will need this information for future reference. 

It is also a good idea to find a folder or binder to put all your information regarding your loss into for safe keeping, or we can provide you with a binder.  This would include your insurance policy information, your insurance adjuster’s name, phone number and email address, your claim number and all the notes you take when you talk to your adjuster.  Having one place for all this information makes it easier to find and organize this information, and much easier to reference your notes in case there are questions or issues later.

Once your inspection has been scheduled, an experienced professional will be dispatched to your home to perform an inspection and take photos.  These will be used to produce an estimate for services, which will be submitted to your insurance adjuster.  (This is why providing all the pertinent information to your scheduler is so vital and timesaving.)  Once the estimate is complete and submitted, SERVPRO of Vacaville/Fairfield/Dixon will work with your insurance adjuster to gain approval of the estimate so that work can begin as soon as possible on your property. 

Once our estimate has been approved, we will schedule your services to begin as soon as possible and dispatch our highly trained production team to your home to begin the cleaning and restoration process.  This often begins with pressure washing the outside of a home (in the event of a wildland or neighborhood fire), wiping down walls and surface areas inside the home, cleaning of carpets and floors, as well as cleaning of individual contents.  We work directly with a vendor to help our customers have their “soft goods” cleaned, which include clothing, removable rugs and drapes.  And when the job is complete, our Crew Chief walks the job with the homeowner to ensure that it is completed to their 100% satisfaction. 

Here’s some additional information about fires:  On average, fire departments across the United States respond to an estimate average of 345,400 home structures fires each year.  Can you guess what the number one cause of house fires is?  Give that some thought and the answer will be revealed at the end of this article. 

Let’s turn our attention to which appliances pose the greatest risk of fire in homes.  As you can probably guess, stoves and ovens are the greatest source of appliance fires.  And surprisingly, electric ranges cause more fires than gas ranges.  Electric stoves are more silent and odorless than their gas counterparts, making them more of a fire hazard because they may get left on inadvertently.  Dishwashers, that fabulous invention that keeps us from hand washing all those pots, pans and dishes we get dirty on a regular basis, are the largest source of kitchen fires caused by a non-cooking appliance.  Electric fires begin when electronics and heating elements are mixed with water, which is exactly the scenario that happens when your dishwasher malfunctions, thus resulting in a fire.  Refrigerators are the greatest culprit when it comes to fire-causing appliances in the United States.  An electrical short or an overheated compressor can cause a fire.  Clothes washer and dryers round out the top offenders of appliances in your home that are the greatest risk of causing a fire.    

Did you remember the question posed earlier about the number one cause of house fires?  If you answered cooking, you are correct.  Unattended cooking causes more house fires in this country than any other source.  So be sure to stay in the room while you are using any kind of heat source in your home.

If you or anyone you know experiences a fire in or around your home, call the professionals at SERVPRO of Vacaville/Fairfield/Dixon at (707) 724-8977.  We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week 365 days a year to respond to your emergency and we are Here To Help.

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