After The Fire
The fire is out, what to do next?

If you know someone who has a fire in their home please share this information. It is hoped that this information will assist in reducing losses, and help speed up the return to a normal lifestyle.

First, we would like to answer some questions you might have about our fire operations and procedures.

•  Was it really necessary to break the windows and put holes in the roof?
As a fire burns, it moves upward, then outward. Removing windows and cutting holes in the roof, ventilation in firefighting terms, stops that damaging outward movement of smoke and heat and enables us to locate potential victims, and fight the fire more efficiently, resulting in less damage in the long run. This procedure also reduces the risk of serious injury to firefighters.

•  Why did the firefighters put holes in the walls and ceiling?
They had to be absolutely sure there was no "hidden" fire inside the walls, ceilings and partitions

Securing the site

Protect the fire site from any further damage by either 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. The fire department may use temporary covers, if available. Make sure outside doors to the property can be locked or secured. The Fire Department will help secure the premises until responsibility can be handed over to the occupier, Insurance Company or Local Authority. If you are the occupier: contact your landlord and inform them of the fire. If you cannot contact them and you need professional assistance in boarding up the premises, ask the Officer in Charge for brochures that are carried on the fire engine. If you plan to leave the site, try to remove any valuables remaining in the building.

Things to think about

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 Building Inspector may be able to help. Food, drink and medicines exposed to heat, smoke or soot should 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 during firefighting operations. If, a utility - gas, electricity or water - is disconnected, it is your responsibility to have the services checked and reconnected by a licensed trade's 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 for verifying losses claimed.

 

Insurance Claims

Contact your insurance company and inform them that you have had a fire, they will take details and then send out an assessor. Obtain a claim form and make a list of all items that have been damaged and what items need to be salvaged. Your insurance accessory will be able to advise this. All insurance companies have different policies in handling claims so sooner you contact them the sooner this can get moving. Try to make an inventory, as soon as possible, of household items either inside or outside the buildings which have been damaged by the fire. The inventory of damaged items will further speed the claim when the loss assessor makes contact. Do not throw away any damaged goods until after the inventory is made by the insurance assessor. If you have made an inventory list prior to the fire use this will aid in the calculation of what has been damaged.

Leaving your home

Your insurance company will be able to advise you if you are entitled to stay in a 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. If you can gain entry to your property, try to locate the following items to take with you:

•  Identification.

•  Medical items that you need, such as drugs and equipment.

•  Glasses, hearing aids.

•  Valuable items such as credit cards, check books, policies (Insurance), savings account books, money and jewelery, passports.

You may need to notify these people of your new address:

•  Your employer.

•  Family members and friends.

•  Schools.

•  At your main Post Office you can have them hold or redirect your mail.

•  If you have newspapers, milk or other deliveries to your property then you may need to advise them as well.

•  Electricity, Gas and Water companies.

The Fire Department might need to know your new address just in case they need to make further inquiries.
Here are some links to other resources:
US Fire Administration - After the Fire
American Red Cross


Please note that these are just ideas and suggestions. Please make sure you follow your local fire department/city govt. suggestions.