Helping Homeowners Understand the Different Aspects of Fire and Smoke Damage
Blog Summary: SERVPRO of Carrollton damage restoration company explains the repercussions of a fire and smoke damage disaster and how it is different from other property damage disasters.
A fire damage disaster is different from a burst washing machine supply line, a mold infestation, a flooded basement, or a sewage spill. The typical water intrusion is disruptive, annoying, and frustrating. In contrast, the sound of smoke alarms blaring at 2:00 am in the morning causes fear and panic. The narrow window of escape closes with each passing minute. A small water intrusion or sewage spill is usually limited to a localized area such as the laundry room, kitchen, or bathroom.
A grease fire in the kitchen can fill an entire home with the smell of smoke, a coating of soot, and a dusting of ash and chemicals from the fire extinguisher. Even a small, localized fire can impact every surface and air space in a home. The extent of the damage and the intensity of the smokey smell require the services of a licensed and insured fire, smoke, and water damage restoration company to thoroughly and safely address the situation.
The American Red Cross offers the following advice for homeowners who are attempting to inspect their fire-damaged home: “Do not cut or walk past colored tape that was placed over doors or windows to mark damaged areas unless local authorities advise that it is safe to do so. If a building inspector has placed a color-coded sign on the home, do not enter it until you get more information, advice, and instructions about what the sign means and whether it is safe to enter your home. If you have children, leave them with a relative or friend while you conduct your first inspection of your home after the fire. The site may be unsafe for children, and seeing the damage firsthand may upset them and cause long-term effects, including nightmares.” This advice highlights the serious nature of a fire and smoke damage disaster.
No two fires are identical. Each incident presents distinct challenges across a broad spectrum of variables. A fire and smoke damage restoration team must consider a number of factors when approaching a fire damage disaster, including:
- the source of the fire
- the intensity of the flames
- the combustion rate of the materials consumed by the fire
- the physical layout of the structure
The Repercussions of a Fire and Smoke Damage Disaster
When a fire breaks out, it immediately begins to change the environment of the building. With sufficient fuel and adequate air supply, a fire consumes materials as it burns—a more explosive fuel source leads to more complete consumption of the structure and its contents. Products of Incomplete Combustion (PICs) include residues, partially consumed materials, and soot tags. A soot tag forms during a fire when the soot particles bond together, forming what looks like a spider web clinging to the ceiling, wall, or rafters. Several factors control the volume of soot, how far it spreads, and its penetration.
An abundance of oxygen enables a fire to burn at a high temperature. Known as dry fires, these high-temperature fires convert organic materials such as wood and plastics into dry soot, which is primarily carbon. The consistency of dry soot makes it less troublesome to remove than other residues. An industrial-strength vacuum, one of the many pieces of equipment in the SERVPRO tool kit, can tackle the challenges of dry soot.
The high heat generates large amounts of carbon-rich dry soot that are deposited throughout the structure. The heat also causes surfaces to expand and capture dry soot particles and other residues. The surfaces, now permeated with dry soot and other residues, give off a strong odor of smoke.
Air circulation in a fire is dynamic. Soot-contaminated air can infiltrate the HVAC ductwork and travel throughout the structure. Fluctuations in air pressure can result in hot, soot-laden air being sucked into a sealed freezer where the temperature and air pressure are lower. The widespread contamination complicates the cleanup, deodorization, and restoration process.
An oxygen-deprived space, such as a closet or a bedroom with a closed door, creates a different cleanup challenge. Should the room become engulfed in flames, the lack of oxygen results in a lower-temperature fire, sometimes referred to as a wet fire. This lower-temperature fire produces more PICs, an oily form of soot, and other residues from non-organic materials. The large volume of PICs from the wet fire generates a significant amount of oily soot and residue, which are much more difficult to remove.
Not all fires create the same odors. Some fires leave behind very intense odors that permeate the entire structure. Other fires do not. Odors from a protein fire require advanced cleaning techniques, effective deodorizers, and thoroughness on the part of the restoration technicians.
The certified technicians at SERVPRO of Carrollton are skilled in cleaning all the nooks and crannies to remove smoke particles. The team of professionals deodorizes all surfaces. An overlooked cabinet door, shelf, or rug may have a remaining odor that is pungent enough to make the fire and smoke-damaged home continue to smell for weeks and months after the blaze.
Since the repercussions of a fire and smoke damage disaster can be severe and lingering, the best course of action is to call the experts at SERVPRO of Carrollton. To learn more about fire damage restoration in Dallas, TX, contact SERVPRO of Carrollton by phone at (972) 446-0383 or by email at office@SERVPRO10952.com