Recent Fire Damage Posts
Frequently Asked Questions Following a Home Fire
We understand the stress and worry a homeowner may feel following a fire event in their home. Our fire damage restoration team has the knowledge and experience to help ease your worries during the restoration process. We do this every day and our purpose is to not only make it "like it never even happened", but also to be a resource for your during the claims process. Below are some frequently asked questions during the beginning of the claims process.
How long will this take?
A complete recovery from a fire event at your home or business can take weeks or months depending on how extensive the damage is. How badly was the property’s structure affected? Does the roof need to be repaired? How much of the structure needs to be removed and replaced? The answers to these questions and several others will determine a clearer project timeline. Before beginning the restoration process, we will give you an estimated project completion date and update you along the way if any changes need to be addressed.
How do you determine what was affected by the fire?
The fire may have been contained to one room in your home or business, but soot can travel via your air conditioning system to several other areas throughout the property. Soot is often hard to detect with the naked eye, but with time acidic soot will lead to discoloration and erosion of materials. Our fire project manager will utilize dry sponges to test areas in your home or business for hard to see soot. Therefore, if soot is discovered in a certain room, then the structure and contents of that room must be cleaned.
How much will this cost? How do you write the estimate?
We use Xactimate to create our estimates. Xactimate is a software program used by all insurance companies for restoration project estimation. The prices for each line item are set within the program and accepted by insurance companies. All estimates include labor, time, and materials required. Again, we will send final estimate and any required supplements directly to your insurance company. The estimation process is exceptionally detailed, tedious, and dependent upon services rendered. That being said, a conclusive estimate can only be completed once the project is finished due to the nature of the restoration process.
What is subrogation?
Subrogation occurs when the insurance company believes a third-party is responsible for the damages and seeks legal action to recover costs for the claim. When subrogation is necessary, the insurance company may not allow anyone to work in the affected area while the investigation is pending. The investigation process may greatly affect our ability to perform services and extend the projected completion date. Our team will have no control over this. Please refer to your insurance company for any questions regarding subrogation.
What should I do now?
If an insurance claim has not already been opened, then calling your insurance company and doing so is the first step. Request a copy of your insurance policy declaration page from your insurance agent or claims specialist to review your coverage. Learn how much coverage you have for structure (labeled dwelling) and for contents. You may need to find another place to stay during the cleaning process. Read your policy or ask your insurance agent to help you understand what is covered under the additional living expenses (ALE) or “loss of use” section in your policy. Ask your insurance company to give you a list in writing of what is commonly covered under these sections. We are not your insurance company and do have any control over your policy limits.
How do I know which items can or cannot be cleaned?
Our fire project manager will help you understand which items are generally able to be cleaned after a fire and which items we suggest discarding of. Some insurance companies may not be willing to pay for our team to create an inventory list of your contents. If your insurance company will not cover the expense of our team inventorying your contents, then we will help instruct you as best as we can. You will want to create a list of all items that need to be discarded and take pictures of each item. Depending on your policy, your insurance company will either pay for the replacement cost of the items or an actual cash value. It will be your responsibility to negotiate an amount for your contents with your insurance company. One tip is to take the list of items needing to be replaced to a large box store and create a registry to show the total of those items.
What is the adjuster’s role in this process?
The adjuster assigned to your claim is working for the insurance company either as an employee or a hired contractor through a third-party claim management company. The adjuster will create an estimate of the needed repairs and your claim will be awarded that amount. We will communicate our restoration plan and share any suggestions or necessary supplements with the adjuster.
Who can help with the rebuild portion of my claim?
Our purpose as your trusted restoration vendor is to clean and/or remove materials affected by the claimed event. We work to mitigate damages to prevent any further damages from occurring in a timely and cost-efficient manner. We are only allowed to remove what is necessary for proper mitigation. Restoration and rebuild are two separate portions of your claim. Following our cleaning process, you will need to hire a contractor to finish repairs. We recommend our partner company Complete Restoration Services and would be happy to have someone contact you with more information.
To learn more about our fire restoration process or for assistance with your home, please send an email to kayla@SERVPROofcovington.com.
Pet Fire Safety
Pets are a part of your family and should be included in your family's home fire safety and escape plans. Follow the tips below to help prevent your pets from starting fires and to help protect them during an emergency.
The National Fire Protection Association estimates that nearly 1,000 home fires each year are accidentally started by the homeowners' pets. The American Kennel Club and ADT Security Services have joined forces to provide the following tips to help prevent pets from starting fires:
- Extinguish open flames - Pets are generally curious and will investigate cooking appliances, candles, or even a fire in your fireplace. Do not leave your pet unattended around an open flame and make sure to thoroughly extinguish any open flames before leaving your home.
- Remove stove knobs - Be sure to remove stove knobs or protect them with covers before leaving the house - a stove or cooktop is the number one piece of equipment involved in fires started by pets.
- Invest in flameless candles - These candles contain a light bulb rather than an open flame and take the danger out of your pet knocking over a candle. Cats are notorious for starting fires when their tails turn over lit candles.
- Secure young pets - keep them confined away from potential fire-starting hazards when you are away from home such as in crates or behind baby gates in secure areas.
Preparing for a Fire
- Include them in your escape plan - Include your pets in the exercise when practicing your fire escape plan with your family. Practice calling for your pets while existing your home. Teach young children to focus on existing the home as quickly as possible and to never reenter the home to search for a pet. Teach them the firefighters will help search for pets once it is safe to do so.
- Help firefighters help your pets- Put a decal on your home's front window showing the kind and number of pets you have.
- Make sure your pet can be found - During a fire emergency it may be hard to locate your pet if they run off. To prevent your pet from getting lost, make sure their collar has updated information on it. Also, having your pets microchipped will help relocate them if they do become lost. Keep leashes by your front door for easy access as your escaping your home.
- Use smoke alarms connected to emergency responders - Install a smoke alarm that will alert the local fire department in case no one is home.
Dedication Ceremony for Ernest Cooper Memorial Fire Station
A brief Dedication Ceremony recognizing the completion of the 2-Bay expansion and the interior renovations at the Ernest J Cooper Memorial Fire Station will be held on Wednesday, June 26th at 10:00 am. Citizens of Covington, area first responders, and the general public are invited to attend. This finished project will provide for better fire protection for our community.Did you know the Covington Fire Department has one of the best response times in the state of Louisiana and responds to over 1,700 emergency calls each year? Our Covington Fire Department firefighters and administrative staff members spend countless hours teaching fire prevention and fire safety throughout our community. Members of the department also help teach emergency planning for residents and business owners. To contact someone with the Covington Fire Department please visit http://www.covla.com/fire_department/contact_information2.php.
American Red Cross: Pillowcase Project
The Pillowcase Project is a program that was developed in New Orleans after college students were seen using pillowcases to carry their belongings during a hurricane emergency. Now the American Red Cross is distributing pillowcases throughout the country and teaching children how to stay safe during emergencies specific to their region and how to respond during a home fire. Through the Pillowcase Project, children will learn how to prepare for an emergency, practice what they have learned, and share this information with their family and friends.
In Louisiana, children taught the Pillowcase Project will learn about preparing for home fires, hurricanes, and tornadoes. Children will learn how to fill their pillowcases with items needed during an emergency, like a flashlight, radio, a change of clothes, medications, and other necessities. An American Red Cross presenter, be it a volunteer or an American Red Cross employee, will also help explain healthy coping skills so that the children can learn how to emotionally process an emergency. Pillowcase Project presentations can be done for a wide variety of groups, such as classrooms, girl or boy scout groups, and church organizations.
To learn more about preparing your child for an emergency please visit https://www.redcross.org/get-help/how-to-prepare-for-emergencies/emergency-preparedness-for-kids.html.
For questions regarding the Pillowcase project please send an email to kayla@SERVPROofcovington.com
NFPA's Most Recent Home Structure Fire Research Report
National Fire Protection Agency
The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) is a global nonprofit organization, established in 1896, devoted to eliminating death, injury, property, and economic loss due to fire, electrical, and related hazards. NFPA is a great resource for fire safety tips, fire safety training, and fire research. In December of 2018, NFPA released their most recent research publication of fire statistics and findings from 2012 to 2016. Below are a few important statistics to note:
- More than one-third of reported fires (27%) occurred in the home.
- During this five-year period, firefighters responded to an average of 355,400 fire per year.
- Roughly one of every 326 households per year had a reported home fire during this period. On average, seven people died in a fire in a home per day.
- Leading causes of home structure fires from 2012- 2016 are as follows: Cooking equipment accounted for 48% of home structure fires. Heating equipment accounted for 15% of home structure fires. Electrical distribution and lighting equipment accounted for 10% of home structure fires. Eight percent of the fires were deemed intentional. And lastly, five percent of the home structure fires from 2012-2016 were caused by smoking materials.
- Candles started an average of 8,200 fires annually, resulting in an average of 80 deaths, 770 injuries, and $264 million in direct property damage per year.
- Someone, usually a child, playing fire or another heat source, started an average of 5,700 home fires annually in 2012-2016.
- The kitchen was the leading origin in home structure fires.
- Almost three of every five home fire deaths resulted from fires in which either no smoke alarm was present (40%) or at least one alarm was present but did not operate (17%).
Ways to help protect your home from fire damages:
- Pay attention when cooking. Never leave food cooking on the stove unattended.
- Keep a fire extinguisher in the kitchen. Do not pour water on a grease fire, either use a fire extinguisher or baking soda to put out the fire.
- Do not overload outlets or power strips.
- Do not plug more than one heating appliance into an outlet.
- Make sure flammable items are kept a respectable distance away from the stove, fireplace, and appliances.
- Teach children not to play with fire and other fire safety tips.
- Install smoke alarms on every level of your home and in each bedroom.
- Test smoke alarms every month and replace batteries every six months. Smoke alarms should be replaced every ten years. Check the back of the smoke alarm for the manufacturer's date. If not date is noted, then replace that smoke alarm and install a new one.
- Clean out the lint screen before each drying cycle.
- Unplug appliance when they are not in use.
For more fire safety tips, please visit https://www.redcross.org/get-help/how-to-prepare-for-emergencies/types-of-emergencies/fire.html
Fire Safety Tips for Children
Most children learn about fire safety practices in school. Every year local firefighters make special visits to elementary and middle schools in St. Tammany Parish to teach children how to prevent fires and how to respond in case of a fire. But there's more you can be doing at home to help prepare your child for an emergency. Follow the tips below to help practice fire safety with your kids:
Children should know that items like candles, matches, and lighters are for adults only. Teach them to notify an adult of any matches or lighters they find out of place.
Test the smoke detector
Have children participate in testing the smoke detectors in your home. Children should know that every month smoke detectors must be checked and that every six months the batteries should be changed. Also, by testing the smoke detector together your child will become familiar with the alarm sound, ensuring they know when a fire has been detected.
Get low and crawl
Teach children to escape during a home fire is to get low on the ground where there is less smoke and crawl to safety. Because fire is scary some children may actually crawl into a closet or hide under their beds during a fire. Teach your child that they must escape to a safe place and not to hide.
Prepare them to find help after escaping by finding a neighbor and calling 911. Most importantly, teach them that they are not allowed to go back into a burning building under any circumstances.
Stop, drop, and roll
Your child will most likely learn this fire safety tip at school, but you should still spend time going over it with them. The more they practice this tip, the calmer they will be in if their clothes actually did catch on fire.
Practice, practice, practice your escape plan
Usually, children will return from a fire safety class with a fire escape map they have drawn of their home. Go over that map with your child. Make sure they are aware of two exists in each room. Have them draw escape routes and practice escaping a few times each year. Teach them how to determine which route is the best one to take, like testing to see if their bedroom door know is hot.
Children are eager to learn, especially when the information is presented in a fun way. Make games out of practicing these fire safety tips. Maybe you can make children race each other to see who can escape fastest! Also, there are plenty of activities and games for children available at http://www.sparky.org/. And for more information about teaching children fire safety tips please visit https://www.redcross.org/get-help/how-to-prepare-for-emergencies/types-of-emergencies/fire/fire-safety-for-kids.html.
How and When to Test Your Smoke Alarm
Test smoke alarms once a month
According to the National Fire Protection Agency, U.S. fire departments responded to an average of 358,500 home structure fires per year between 2011 and 2015. Working smoke alarms give an early warning of fire, give people additional time to escape, and thus cut the risk of dying in a reported home fire in half. However, a significant percentage of residential smoke alarms fail to operate during a fire. The two main reasons for a failed smoke alarm detector are simply missing or disconnected batteries and dead batteries. Both cases are easily preventable.
How to Test Your Smoke Alarm
Most smoke alarms have a clearly labeled "test" button. Make a habit to press this button at least once a month to ensure the batteries are properly working. This sound will be loud, but make sure everyone in your family is involved in this exercise to learn what noise to expect in case of an emergency. If the alarm does not sound when tested, then it is time to replace the batteries.
Once you've established that the smoke alarms are properly working, determine if it responds to smoke particles by using a smoke detector test aerosol spray can (be sure to look for one that is UL listed).
When to Test Your Smoke Alarm
You should test your smoke alarms at least once a month to make certain they are operating properly. Another good habit is to change the batteries in your smoke alarms twice each year, once in Spring when we turn the clocks forward an hour and once in Fall when we turn the clocks back an hour. Also, smoke alarms should be replaced every ten years. Dust and debris can settle inside of the alarm and cause the sensors to fail. If you have recently purchased your home, then you should replace all of the smoke alarms unless you can prove the manufacturing date.
Need Assistance With Obtaining Or Installing a Smoke Alarm?
The state of Louisiana supplies each fire station with smoke alarm detectors for the public every year. If you can't afford a smoke alarm or cannot install them by yourself, then please reach out to your local fire department for help. Your local fire department will give and install smoke alarms in your home free of charge as a part of their program Operation Save A Life.
Fire Districts in St. Tammany Parish:
- Fire District 1, Slidell
- Fire District 2 Fire Department, Madisonville
- To contact someone in this fire department call the administrative office at 985-845-3330 or send an email here .
- Fire District 3, Lacombe
- To contact someone in this fire department you can dial 985-882-5977 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- District 4, Mandeville
- St. Tammany Fire Protection District No. 4 encompasses an approximate 70 square mile region on the Northshore of Lake Pontchartrain in Southern Louisiana. The District boundaries are formed by the fourth ward of St. Tammany Parish. It is bordered to the east at Pontchartrain Drive on Highway 190, west to the Tchefuncte River, north to Ponchitalawa Creek (including additional areas along LA Highways 36, 59, Interstate 12, Helenburg Road and the River Oaks subdivision), and south extending 13.4 miles on the Greater New Orleans Expressway (Causeway).
- To contact someone in this fire department dial 985-626-8671 or send an email to email@example.com
- District 5, Folsom
- To contact someone in this fire department dial 985-796-5266.
- District 6, Covington and North Lee Road Areas
- To contact someone in this fire department dial 985-809-1768.
- City of Covington Fire Department
- To contact someone in this station dial 985-898-4727 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
- District 8, Abita Springs
- To contact someone in this fire department dial 985-892-2065 or send an email to email@example.com.
- District 9, Bush
- District 11, Pearl River
- To contact someone in this fire department dial 985-863-3132 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Fire District 12
- The District’s boundaries wrap around the City of Covington to the south, east and north, and take in one of West St. Tammany’s busiest corridors – Hwy. 190 between I-12 and Covington. From rural areas north of Covington to the densely populated Tammany Hills and Crestwood subdivisions, FD12 provides service to more than 25,000 people and 1,200 businesses.
- To contact someone at this department dial 985-892-5161 or send an email to email@example.com
- District 13, Goodbee Fire Department
Fire Facts and Fire Safety Resources:
Prevent Your Pets from Starting Fires
The National Fire Protection Association estimates that nearly 1,000 home fires each year are accidentally started by the homeowners' pets. Just a few months ago we helped restore a home after the homeowners' dog accidentally turned on their gas stove while they were out running errands thus resulting in a small kitchen fire. Thankfully, no one or pets were harmed because of the fire. But now the homeowner knows to remove the kitchen stove knobs to prevent another accident from happening in the future.
The American Kennel Club and ADT Security Services have joined forces to provide the following tips:
- Extinguish Open Flames - Pets are generally curious and will investigate cooking appliances, candles, or even a fire in your fireplace. Ensure your pet is not left unattended around an open flame and make sure to thoroughly extinguish any open flame before leaving your home.
- Remove Stove Knobs - Be sure to remove stove knobs or protect them with covers before leaving the house - a stove or cook top is the number one piece of equipment involved in your pet starting a fire.
- Invest in Flameless Candles - These candles contain a light bulb rather than an open flame, and take the danger out of your pet knocking over a candle. Cats are notorious for starting fires when their tails turn over lit candles.
- Secure Young Pets - keep them confined away from potential fire-starting hazards when you are away from home such as in crates or behind baby gates in secure areas.
Tips for Responding to Fire Damage
First and foremost, staying safe is most important. Call the fire department immediately and do not enter the property until it is okay to do so.
After a fire, the damage left behind by the water used to extinguish the fire and the lingering soot are often worse than the fire itself. SERVPRO of Greater Covington and Mandeville has many years of experience in cleaning and restoring fire damaged properties. We work hard to make it seem "Like it never even happened."
What to do after a fire:
- Limit movement in the home to prevent further damage
- Place dry, colorfast towels or old linens on carpeted traffic areas to prevent more soiling
- If electricity is off, empty freezer and refrigerator and prop open doors
- Do not attempt wash any walls of painted surfaces
- Do not attempt to shampoo carpet or upholstered furniture
- Do not attempt to clean any electrical appliances that may have been close to fire or water
- Call SERVPRO of Greater Covington and Mandeville at 985-871-5375
Why every family should create a home inventory list
In the unfortunate event of an emergency would you be able to list the contents of your home for your insurance company? How much is your home truly worth? What is the current value of your furniture, artwork, jewelry, kitchen appliances, etc?
Creating a household inventory list will help to prove your losses after a disaster, like a fire or a catastrophic hurricane. A detailed inventory of your home includes careful descriptions of each valuable item, receipts, and pictures. Copies of the list should be stored in a fire proof safe, shared with a family member, and sent to your insurance agent. You can even go paperless and download a free App to make your list. For more information about home inventory lists visit www.rmiia.org or www.howtogeek.com.
How Much of Your Belongings can You Save After a Fire?
According to the National Fire Protection Association, over five hundred thousand structure fires devastated homes and businesses in the United States in 2015. These losses account for more than ten billion dollars in property damage costs.
After the fire, the home or business owner's remains are left covered in soot. Acidic soot will cause even more harm to belongings. Thankfully, some items can be restored with the help of our professional fire damage restoration technicians. SERVPRO of Greater Covington and Mandeville specializes in structural cleaning, contents cleaning, and deodorization. We are open 24/7 to respond to any disaster. Give us a call after a fire and we will work to make your house a home again.
For more information on fire damage in the U.S. visit http://www.nfpa.org/
Fire Restoration Process
The fire restoration process is very detailed and time consuming. However, the process can be simply broken down into three main steps:
- Assess Situation- We identify what can or can not be salvaged. With the approval of insurance adjuster and client, we discard of certain materials. We test for smoke damage on structure and contents.
- Pretest and Clean-Utilizing professional products and tools we pretest and clean both contents and structure, removing soot damage. Air ducts will be cleaned of soot damage as well.
- Deodorize-After structure has been cleaned properly, we deodorize the property using a thermal fogger.
SERVPRO of Greater Covington and Mandeville specializes in fire and soot damage restoration for both commercial and residential properties. If your home or business has incurred fire or soot damage, please give us a call today at 985-871-5375.
How to Create a Fire Escape Plan for Your Family
According to the National Fire Protection Association, there were 1,342,000 fires in the United States in 2016, of which 475,500 were structure fires. One home structure fire was reported every ninety seconds. Most businesses have fire escape plans to help saves lives during an emergency. Creating a fire escape plan for the home should be just as common, especially for families with young children or with special needs family members. Being prepared saves lives during an emergency.
Thankfully, NFPA has created an easy how to guide for creating a home fire escape plan:
- Draw a map of your home. Show all windows and doors.
- Visit each room and recognize two ways out.
- All windows and doors should open easily. You should be able to use them to get outside.
- Make sure your home has smoke alarms. Test your alarms regularly.
- Pick a meeting place for when you must evacuate. The meeting place should be in front of the home.
- Make sure your house or building number can be seen from the street.
- Talk about the plan with everyone in your home.
- Learn the emergency phone number for your local fire department.
Most importantly, practice the plan with everyone in your home. This can be a fun exercise for children. Have them draw a map of your home and color all the possible escape routes. Once or twice a year go over the plan with everyone in the home again.
To learn more about fire safety in the home please click here.
Fire Safety Tips For The Holidays
'Tis the season to bask in holiday cheer and enjoy visiting with your family and friends. This time of year we love to decorate our homes and offices to brighten our lives. However, some of these decorations present major fire hazards. According to NFPA, the National Fire Protection Association, "between 2010-2014, U.S. fire departments responded to an average of 210 home fires that started with Christmas trees each year" and between 2009-2013 Christmas decorations started an average of 860 home structure fire each year. You can prevent fires of this nature by being a little more mindful around your home. Please take note of these simple tips to help keep you, your family and your friends safe this holiday season.
Be mindful in the kitchen
Most holiday season home fires start in the kitchen. You should never leave food cooking on the stove unattended. Ask someone to watch over the food if you need to leave the kitchen for a moment or take a pot holder with you to remind you to head back to the kitchen soon.
Check that your smoke detectors are working properly and make sure you have a fire extinguisher near the kitchen.
Be mindful of your Christmas trees
A well watered Christmas tree is almost impossible to ignite. You should check the water level every day.
Keep your Christmas tree at least three feet away from any source of heat, like fire places, space heaters, heat vents, or candles.
Be mindful of your Christmas lights
Before decorating your tree with lights, inspect the lights. If you notice any cracked or frayed wires, then throw them away.
Avoid using nails or staples when hanging lights outside. You should use clips or hangers to prevent damaging the wiring.
You should also read the manufacturer's instructions for the allowed number of light strands to connect.
Be mindful of your candles
The top four days for fires caused by candles are Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year's Eve, and New Year's Day.
Keep candles at least one foot away from anything that can burn and make sure to put them out before leaving the house or going to bed.
Also, do not let children play with matches or attempt to light candles themselves.
Be mindful of your fireplace
Have your fireplace cleaned, if needed, before starting any fires this year.
Always screen the fireplace to prevent embers from popping out.
To learn more about fire safety tips click here.
Why choose SERVPRO of Greater Covington and Mandeville?
Cleanup & Restoration
SERVPRO of Greater Covington and Mandeville is independently owned and operated and has been helping this community since 2009. We are open 24/7/365. Within one hour of notice of loss, we will contact you to arrange for service. Within four hours of notification of a loss, our SERVPRO professionals will be on-site to start mitigation services. Within eight business hours of on-site arrival, a verbal briefing of the scope will by communicated. We are IICRC certified and employ professional, knowledgeable technicians. Whether you have water, fire or mold damage we can help mitigate your losses and quickly restore your home or business back to preloss condition. We also specialize in crime scene cleanup, bio hazard cleanup, deodorization, air duct cleaning, reconstruction and much more. We are here to help you with any size disaster. You can give us a call anytime at 985-871-5375 for help with an emergency.