Have you ever thought about what you need to do in case of a fire in your home? You've probably reviewed the first two critical steps with your family a few times.
Step one: GET OUT! Obvious, true, but this is the most important thing. Make sure your family gets out of the home and to a safe place before worrying about anything else.
Step two: Call 911. Once you're a safe distance from your home, then either call 911 from your cell phone or a neighbor's house. The fire department will be on the scene shortly, hopefully in time to preserve your property and avoid a substantial loss.
Step three? This is the one you've not likely thought about much. What happens after the fire department leaves? Depending on the severity of the situation, there may be standing water in your home, smoke damage, structural damage, etc. This is when you want to call in an expert to help you assess the situation, and come up with a plan of what needs to be taken care of immediately, and what can wait to be addressed as time permits. These experts are typically called property preservation specialists, fire damage restoration experts, or water damage restoration experts.
What kinds of fires are typical in our area? According to Haslet Fire Chief Kirt Mays, his department often deals with lightning strikes and barn fires in Haslet and the surrounding area. He agreed that bringing in an expert is valuable. Chief Mays said, "There are many hidden dangers after a fire in your home. People are anxious to retrieve what they can, but working with experts to eliminate potential dangers is critical." He also reinforced the fact that restoration experts will know local ordinances and requirements. For example, if a Haslet resident needs a dumpster for a substantial clean-up, they MUST use Republic Waste for such service.
Once a restoration expert is brought to the property, the first thing they will do is address the security of the home by boarding up any broken windows or doorways in accordance with city or county ordinances. This will help to reduce the possibility of being the victim of additional vandalism or theft of your personal property remaining in your home. Considering the larger lots in Haslet and the surrounding area in Northeast Tarrant County, this is important as neighbors aren't always able to see what's going on next door.
The next step will be to get in touch with your insurance company to begin the process of assessing the damage, determining what can be saved, and what must be removed and discarded. Once a plan of attack is agreed upon by you, your insurance company, and the restoration company, then the work can begin.
You may think, "This isn't too bad. I can clean this up myself." While that may be true, it's still worth getting an expert opinion. You'll want to make sure that they've received their IICRC certification (click here for what this means). When a fire damages your home, an expert needs to determine what has burned, which chemicals may have been distributed in the smoke, and how to best remove the residue. They will have specialized products and equipment that just aren't available to a typical consumer, and they'll be able to return your home as close as possible as if the fire never happened.
Everyone hopes that they'll never have to deal with a fire in their home, but it's important to consider so when disaster strikes, you'll have a plan, and be able to minimize the long-term damage to your home and property.