Fire Damage Restoration FAQ.

Finding answers to typical concerns.

The Fire Department recommended that we board up our home (or business). Is that something that you can do?

Yes, we can. Flagship Restoration is open 24/7/365 and has trained board up crews to make sure that your home or business is secure after the fire has been put out.

If the fire was relatively small and only affected a small area, do we really need professional cleanup?

While building materials that may have been directly affected by the fire can sometimes be easily identified, in most losses it is the smoke and soot cleanup that represents the lion’s share of the cleaning and restoration effort. Fire safety and building code officials have expended significant resources over many decades in an effort to better understand how smoke and soot can affect residential and commercial properties. Controlled experiments show just how quickly smoke can spread through all the crevices and tiny openings in your home. Within seconds, smoke and soot coat the walls, ceilings, cabinets, light fixtures, and windows. Within minutes, heavy layers of soot coat all flat surfaces, and thick smoke makes its way inside outlets, switches, wall cavities, and penetrates electronics and appliances, coating delicate circuitboards. Even if the fire is put out rather quickly, smoke can penetrate to other floors of your home and absorb into soft goods such as clothing, carpeting, bedding, and window coverings. Even small fires can cause major damage to your personal belongings and your home and leave lingering odors if not cleaned up properly.

Our fire was not very big. Can we clean it up ourselves?

For best results, do not try any self-cleaning without first consulting an expert. It is important to pretest residues, use the right cleaning agent for the particular item, mix deodorizing agents with appropriate cleaning solutions, and use proper dilution rates to achieve best results. Some chemicals need to be applied with special equipment. At Flagship Restoration we have a full array of industry specific cleaning products to give you the best chance for complete restoration of your property and your belongings.

The fire department put out the fire but now we have a lot of water in the house. What should we do?

Water damage resulting from a fire is very common, and we will employ all of our expertise in water restoration and structural drying into our work plan for your fire loss. It is our job to ensure that you don’t have water damage or mold issues when all is said and done.

Can my family stay in our home during the restoration effort?

This will depend on the scope of damage, layout of your home, and your comfort level. This is a discussion that you should have with your restoration contractor and your insurance company. Some things to consider:

  • Does your policy provide off-site housing? (most do but some can be subject to a per-diem limit or overall length of stay limit . . .)
  • What rooms did the fire and smoke affect? If the kitchen or the only bathroom with a shower is out of commission, you will want to make other arrangements. If the third floor is affected but you have use of the main floor and basement it could be OK.
  • Is it worth the potential hassle to stay at the house? There will be a lot of activity in the house during the cleanup effort – chemical applications, equipment running, people coming and going, privacy issues, etc. Also alleviating the smoke odor takes time, and is often one of the final steps in the cleanup process – you and your clothes may smell like smoke if you stay in the house.
  • Hotels are OK for a few days, but living out of a hotel room for weeks or months is no fun. Talk to your insurance company about a short-term rental in a house or condo for your comfort during the process.
If we hire Flagship to cleanup the smoke and soot damage, will you also put my home back together or can I choose my own general contractor?

Yes, we will put your home back together OR you can choose your own general contractor (and we won’t take offense!). This is a personal decision, and it is ultimately your decision. At Flagship Restoration we are partnered with only the best (licensed and insured) local contractors, many of which are specialists for each trade (drywall, plaster, framing, painting, plumbing, HVAC, electrical, flooring, etc.). We work with each of them regularly and we have chosen them because of their promptness, professionalism, and attention to detail. They understand that work after an accident such as water damage or fire/smoke damage must take priority. They also understand that we must work within industry standard pricing allowances – some contractors hear the word “insurance claim” and think there is an open checkbook somewhere, but that is not the case. Your loss will be assigned a Project Manger from Flagship Restoration, and we are accustomed to working with you and your insurance company along the way to make sure all work is properly justified and approved within the guidelines of your policy. Having said all of that, many of our customers have a long-standing close relationship with a general contractor or certain trades (some are even contractors themselves!), so we are also accustomed to coordinating with and then handing off the project to another contractor after cleanup. Again, this is an important decision and can only be made by you, the homeowner. Talk to us about it, we are good listeners – we can help you weigh the pros and cons so you can make the right decision for you without a “hard sell” on our part.

How long will the cleanup and restoration process take?

This obviously depends on the size and scope of your loss, but it can range from 10 – 20 days for small kitchen fires to 4-6 months for larger events. We ask for your patience at the beginning of the process while the loss is evaluated by various interested parties. Quite often, fire scenes are locked down by local authorities until they have completed their investigation and documentation. Your insurance company will also want to see the damage first-hand, and sometimes they have their own separate investigation to determine causation and review your policy to determine coverage. Finally, it is often required for our initial estimates to be reviewed and approved by your insurance company prior to work commencing (although we will push to get initial steps approved ASAP). Once we get the green light we will go over our work plan with you and provide you with target dates for each major step in the restoration.

I have heard there are different “types” of fires. Are all fires alike?

No, in fact the source of the fire and the fuel (the items that burn during the fire) must be considered in order to put a proper restoration protocol in place . Each home or business may contain different materials that burn and create their own cleaning and restoration challenges. Listed below are the four main categories of fire and smoke damage:

  1. Natural substance smoke residue – Natural items that burn can be paper, wood, and other items containing those substances. The color of these residues are usually black and gray. These smoke residues can be usually be cleaned using a specialized vacuum, appropriate chemicals, and a dry chemical sponge. Reader beware, because smoke particles can be the size of .004 microns. These particles are small enough to go anywhere in the dwelling, even inside wall cavities. It may not bother you if the smoke particles are in the wall cavities, but each particle causes a smoke odor. Not removing these particles can lead to unsolved odor issues. There are solutions to the smoke particle residue removal such as thermal fogging, ozone, and other processes Flagship Restoration will employ to solve the issue properly.
  2. Protein substance smoke residue - Chicken, beef, and other proteins when burned make a greasy mess. Cleaning these residues takes training and understanding of proper protein residue cleaning.
  3. Synthetic substance smoke residue - Put simply, any type of plastic or derivative of plastic when burned becomes very chalky and smeary to the touch. Again, cleaning this type of smoke residue can be complex and requires proper training, equipment, and techniques.
  4. Oil burner malfunction residue – Otherwise known as a “puff -back,” this residue is caused simply by a oil burner misfiring and then emitting partially burned oil residue throughout the HVAC system and often distributing the residue throughout the house.

What to do until we arrive?

Some tips of what to do and what not to do after a flooding / water leak occurs.

Water Damage Tips