Recent Fire Damage Posts

Fire Restoration Cleaning Basics

9/17/2020 (Permalink)

Photo of a white board with pH information written on it. There’s a lot of chemistry behind determining the best way to clean a fire damage residue.

Wash. Rinse. Dry. Repeat. This is how we clean things, right? Scrub a little, let it soak, then use some ‘elbow grease’.

Fire damage presents a great variety of cleaning challenges. Smoke and soot residues from a fire can wreak havoc on all the contents, whether the contents are made of wood, ceramic, metal, paper, or natural fibers. Fire residues can literally be baked on a surface.

Different types of soot residues can exist in the same environment, making it tricky to determine the best way to clean items. In addition, the type of surface also determines the best cleaning method and products to use, in order to remove the residue. Combining the principles and elements of cleaning requires a great deal of science.

For Example:

  • On what kind of surface is the residue? Soot and smoke residues are acidic and can be very corrosive, not to mention carcinogenic.
  • Is the soil water-soluble? Oil-residue requires an oil-based solvent.
  • Will the surface be damaged by water or a solvent?
  • For an oily soot, would you wipe it? If you do, it will smear, making it worse to clean.

Chemical actions involved in determining the best way to remove a soil:   

  • The pH of a residue and cleaning solution: The goal of water-based products is to return a material to a neutral pH; Most soils are slightly acidic, so test the residue pH
  • Like dissolves Like: solvents for oil-based soils; water-based solution for water-based residue.
  • Emulsions bridge oil-based soils with water
  • Bleaching: chemical reactions from either adding or removing oxygen from the soil structure, that breaks the bond between residues and surfaces
  • Enzymes digest protein soils

This is just some of the science behind identifying types of soot residues and types of surfaces from fire damage help to determine the best way to remove a soil.

Need Fire damage remediation? Call us today at 434-977-5850 for 24/7 Emergency Service.

Charlottesville Dryer Vent Fire Safety

3/6/2020 (Permalink)

Dryer vent fire? We are “Here to Help” with your fire damage.

When was the last time you cleaned your dryer vent? Many of us dismiss this task because of our busy lives, or maybe we just don’t want to bother with it; too many other pressing matters at hand, right?

Why is this important?

Lint can accumulate in and clog the vents, causing them to overheat and ignite. These types of fires can be prevented with regular dryer vent cleaning.

A clogged dryer vent recently caused a local house fire in Charlottesville. Luckily, the owners were home and took action promptly. The firefighters contained it quickly, but it still caused quite a bit of damage to the home. For more about this local news story, click here.

According to the U.S. Fire Administration, “2,900 home clothes dryer fires are reported each year and cause an estimated 5 deaths, 100 injuries, and $35 million in property loss. Failure to clean the dryer (34 percent) is the leading cause of home clothes dryer fires.”

The Basics in What to Do:

  • Dryerexhaust vents should be inspected and cleaned at least once a year
  • Lint trap should be cleaned before and after every dryer load

SERVPRO of Charlottesville is “here to help” with your fire damage restoration.

For information about our Fire Damage Restoration Process click here.

For Fire Damage Emergency Tips click here.

For Questions about Fire Damage Repair and Restoration

Call 434-977-5850. We are “Here to Help” for 24-Hour Emergency Service

Cooking and Fire Safety Tips for Charlottesville Homes

2/4/2020 (Permalink)

If this happens to your Charlottesville kitchen, we have highly trained Fire Restoration Technicians "Here to Help."

I grew up cooking on a gas burning stove. We had to strike a match to light the stove and did not think about the fire danger involved. Our wooden home was in an older neighborhood built around 1910. No fire extinguisher. No smoke alarms.

It’s what you are accustomed to, right?

Luckily, we were very careful and sensible in the kitchen. Yet, cooking is a major cause of home fires.

Here are some safety tips that apply to everyone, including seniors:

  • Never leave your stove unattended while cooking. Period.
  • Keep the area around the stove clutter-free. Even a pot-holder can catch fire instantly from an electric stove. 
  • Never put Anything on the stovetop, such as grocery bags or cardboard boxes. It would be too easy to accidentally turn it on.
  • Do not store Anything in your oven.
  • Keep the stove surface clean, especially from grease. 
  • Pour hot grease into a coffee can or other heat-safe container. Then throw it away.
  • Roll up your sleeves
  • Keep a fire extinguisher easily accessible (and learn how to use it).

Hopefully, a fire disaster may be avoided. However, if you need us for your fire restoration, we are “Here to Help”.

For information about our Fire Damage Restoration Process click here.

For Fire Damage Emergency Tips click here.

For Questions about Fire Damage Repair and Restoration

Call 434-977-5850. We are “Here to Help” for 24-Hour Emergency Service

What is a “Puff back”?

1/23/2020 (Permalink)

Our dedicated and meticulous Charlottesville team cleaning soot-begrimed pack outs.

How can something that sounds so cute, like “Puff back”, wreak so much havoc, and cause such a greasy, sooty, smokey mess?

It should be called “Yukky, Smeary, Begrimed Backfire Blast” instead!

In a nutshell, a puff back is when greasy smoke and soot backfire into a home from an oil burning appliance such as an oil furnace, water heater, or boiler. This residue is distributed through the duct system and living space, covering everything: drapes, bedding, furniture, computers, books, art, rugs, electronics, cabinets, ceiling, walls…

 A similar phenomenon can occur from a fireplace or wood stove, where soot is released into the room, but it is not considered a “puff back.”

If this happens to you:

  • Don’t attempt to clean the smoke or soot residue yourself. These stains spread easily and set quickly.
  • Don’t use the furniture or walk on the carpet.
  • Don’t turn on computers and other electronic devices; They can be ruined from this corrosive soot.
  • This oily soot can cause health issues.

Puff backs can be prevented with furnace and chimney yearly maintenance and cleaning.

SERVPRO of Charlottesville is an IICRC Certified Firm with the proper techniques, training, products and equipment to clean everything affected by a “puff back”, or “yukky, smeary, begrimed backfire blast.”

For information on our fire/soot damage restoration process, click here.

For videos about our soot damage cleanup and restoration, click here.

Have Questions about Fire, Smoke, or Soot Damage?
Call Us Today at 434-977-5850

Charlottesville/Albemarle Smoke and Soot Cleanup

12/31/2019 (Permalink)

Our Charlottesville vehicles are neatly organized and loaded with the latest high-tech equipment so that we can be “Faster to your disaster."

Smoke and soot are very invasive and can penetrate various cavities within your home, causing hidden damage and odor. We have the smoke damage expertise, equipment, and experience to inspect and accurately assess the extent of the damage, and to develop a comprehensive plan of cleanup and restoration.  

Smoke and soot facts:

  • Hot smoke migrates to cooler areas and upper levels of a structure.
  • Smoke flows around plumbing systems, seeping through the holes used by pipes to go from floor to floor.
  • The type of smoke may greatly affect the restoration process.

Different Types of Smoke

There are two different types of smoke–wet and dry. As a result, there are different types of soot residue after a fire. Before restoration begins, SERVPRO of Charlottesville will test the soot to determine which type of smoke damage occurred. The cleaning procedures will then be based on the information identified during pre-testing. Here is some additional information:

Wet Smoke – Plastic and Rubber

  • Low heat, smoldering, pungent odor, sticky, smeary. Smoke webs are more difficult to clean.

Dry Smoke – Paper and Wood

  • Fast burning, high temperatures, heat rises therefore smoke rises.

Protein Fire Residue – Produced by evaporation of material rather than from a fire

  • Virtually invisible, discolors paints and varnishes, extreme pungent odor. 

Have Questions about Fire, Smoke, or Soot Damage?
Call Us Today at 434-977-5850

Pack-Outs for Soot-Damaged Items

12/16/2019 (Permalink)

Pack-out boxes with contents ready to be cleaned at our local warehouse.

After dealing with clean up and recovery from a fire in a business or home, the last thing one wants to handle is cleaning every soot-damaged item in the building.  One of our many services for fire damage and restoration is our Pack Out service. 

This can involve carefully

  • Packing soot-damaged items
  • Transporting them to our warehouse for storage and cleaning
  • Attentive restoration using high-tech methods, such as our Ultrasonic machine(click here for video)
  • Wrapping restored items in paper or bubble wrap
  • Re-boxing them for delivery to the owner….Voila’!!

Our ultimate goal is to restore items to preloss condition.  However, not everything is able to be fully restored after being damaged by fire. In which case replacement is recommended.  

For Before and After photos of fire-damaged restored items, click here.

For information about our fire-damage restoration process click here

SERVPRO of Charlottesville is locally owned and operated, and is a “trusted leader in the restoration industry”.  We are available for Emergency Service 24/7.  Call us at 434-977-5850

Just Spooky Spider Web Decor? Think Again...

10/11/2019 (Permalink)

Soot webs can be spooky, call SERVPRO of Charlottesville to help clean up the visible soot and remove that lingering odor.

With Halloween right around the corner you may think this is part of the décor, but it’s not. This is an image of a phenomenon called soot webs, also referred to as soot tags. It looks like soot from a fire has settled on a spider’s web or a cob web, but its not. The webbing may look similar but these are actually charged particles carrying the soot and will cling to other charged particles to form these stringy structures. Rest assured there are no spiders lurking around these webs! We use specialty vacuums with hepa filters attached to remove them and the soot they carry. Please do not attempt to wipe these away as the soot will smear and cling to the closest solid structure available.

If you find yourself facing these call SERVPRO and remember we are here to help. 434-977-5850

Meet Our Latest Certified Fire Crew Members!

9/20/2019 (Permalink)

David and Chris have successfully completed Fire & Smoke Restoration and have already begun applying what they learned.

Congratulations to crew members Chris and David on passing their IICRC Fire and Smoke Restoration class. This important class focuses on the technical procedures for successfully completing the restoration of a fire and smoke damaged environment. Fires can be completely overwhelming. If you’ve ever been to or unfortunately had a fire you know how invasive soot can be. The damage left behind by a fire can be toxic so knowing how to remediate the scene properly is important. Often a fire scene is compromised, knowing what is safe and what is not safe is something for which SERVPRO technicians are trained. Our employees are very proud of the working knowledge they have of our industry, you can always feel free to ask our crew why we are doing something a particular way, they know their business and are happy to share their knowledge and experience. We know these situations are sometimes the worst thing that has ever happened to you, SERVPRO strives to be a source of comfort in the knowledge that when we are done, you will be coming home to a safe, clean, healthy livable space.  

Invasive and Difficult to Remove, the Smell of Nicotine can Affect the Whole Home

2/6/2019 (Permalink)

No one wants to smell a previous resident’s habits in their home.

You search internet listings for weeks. You work diligently with your real estate agent. You attend open house after open house. Finally, you found it: the perfect house. It has beautiful dark shutters. The kitchen is open and airy. There are enough bedrooms so even your youngest doesn’t have to share a room, and there is space to grow. There’s just one “but.” You step inside the door, take a deep breath, and you can’t ignore the way the smell goes right to the back of your throat. It’s a little chalky and impossible to ignore— nicotine.

Don’t give up hope. This odor may not be the kiss of death for this home. When we get a call about a nicotine odor in a home, there are a few questions that we consider. First, how long has cigarette smoke been impacting the area? Has it just been the past 3-6 months? Or longer, many years of smoking? Then we evaluate how strong the smell is and where it is concentrated. Does it permeate the air? Is it stronger on the carpets or the furniture? Can you see the staining on the walls and ceiling?

Once we can establish the extent of the damage, we begin to plan action steps for restoring the home. If you or the previous owner have already spent time and effort trying to get rid of the smell, the next question to ask is when was the last time the ductwork was cleaned. Often nicotine residue can cling to the HVAC system and a full duct cleaning could be the answer to residual odor that seems to outlast other odor removal methods.

If the ducts have been cleaned, the next question we ask about a persistent nicotine odor is, when were the walls last painted? If they have been painted since the damage occurred, remediation becomes trickier. Because nicotine odor comes from the residue that the smoke leaves, if a wall has been painted, the odor is actually trapped behind the paint and is seeping through, making it impossible to clean away the residue that is trapped behind the paint.

These two items are our biggest culprits for a persistent nicotine odor, but we have a myriad of other methods and products we use to clean nicotine residue and remove the offensive odor from your home. If you have more questions or would like to schedule an odor assessment, give us a call at 434-977-5850.

Make Sure Your Family Knows Where to Go in the Event of a Fire

12/19/2018 (Permalink)

Drawing a Floor Plan is the First Step to Keeping Your Family Safe

Fire drills in school were always a great excuse to be outside and get out of class for a few moments. Now, as adults, we try to plan for the safety of our children in any way that we can think of. We are now thankful that the school has developed an evacuation plan that helps provide for our children’s safety in the event of a fire in the school. But what about a fire at home? Or a fire at work? Even though we have graduated, we are not past fire drills. Having a fire evacuation plan in place in the home and at work is an important part of keeping your family and coworkers safe in the event of a fire.  

To create your plan, bring the whole family together and create a floor plan of your home. On your floor plan, mark all exits: windows and doors. Make sure there are two escape routes marked in each room. Include, in your plan, a designated spot to meet up after you have left the house. You can use any landmark, but make sure it is far enough from the home to be safe.

Once you have a plan created, place it in a place where every family member can access it and practice the plan. You can even make this a fun family bonding experience. The most important thing is that every family member, including children and elderly family members, know what to do and will be accounted for in the event of a fire.

The National Fire Protection Agency has more information on their website as well as a floor plan template that you can print out and use to draw your evacuation plan.

Let’s Keep the Fire Under the Heart and the Lights on the Tree

12/5/2018 (Permalink)

Yikes! This tree is definitely too close to the fireplace!

At Christmastime we want to be joyous, spend time with our families, and remember that there is joy and light in life even in the darkest season of the year. However, this year please don’t let that light come from a Christmas tree fire.

While live trees are beautiful and smell amazing, they must be properly cared for to avoid creating an unintentional fire hazard. According to the National Fire Protections agency (NFPA), ensuring that your tree is not a hazard, begins before you even bring it home.

When choosing your tree, check for needles that are green and won’t fall off the branches when you touch them. This is a helpful indicator on how long ago the tree was cut. Once the tree is in your home, make sure that you are watering it properly every day. Place the tree at least 3 feet away from any heat sources, like fireplaces, radiators, or lights.

During the holiday season, be sure to be attentive of your tree, keeping it watered, turning off the lights before you go to bed and disposing of the tree immediately after Christmas or whenever the tree dries out. A dry tree can be a fire hazards even left to sit in the garage or leaning up against the outside of a home.

Be safe this holiday season and check out this resource from the NFPA for more information on Christmas tree safety.

Are You Actively Preventing a Furnace Puffback?

11/28/2018 (Permalink)

After an unexpected puffback, this fireplace was left covered in soot. Check out our Before and After Page to see what is looks like now!

In the favorite childhood movie, Mary Poppins, while walking along the rooftop, Michael looks into a roof vent and ends up with a face full of soot. Limited to a rooftop in fictional London, this surprise puff is comical and harmless. However, when your fireplace or furnace creates a puff of soot inside your home, often called a puffback, suddenly it creates a very real, very sooty problem.

When a puffback occurs, it’s hard to ignore.  It can be loud, with a distinctive wuff sound and the resulting soot and oily residue covers every surface it can reach. It’s a frustrating experience and we most often see them happening around this time of year when fireplaces, furnaces and woodburning stoves are used for the first time after sitting dormant all summer.

In a fireplace or woodstove with a chimney, a puffback is most often caused by a problem in the chimney. For example, if there is a buildup of ash and leftover residue clumped in the chimney, this blockage can create an uneven balance of oxygen and carbon dioxide. As you add kindling and wood, the flame has plenty of fuel, but the oxygen it needs to burn is stuck above the chimney blockage. The fire will eventually correct this imbalance by sucking in a large amount of oxygen all at once, igniting the excess fuel in the fireplace and the buildup in the chimney all at once. The force of this ignition pushes ash and soot out of the fireplace and can cover the whole room in a dark residue.

In a furnace, the cause can be similar, a furnace can have a buildup of excess fuel, oil, even dirt or dust in the ignition chamber. This buildup blocks oxygen from reaching the combustion chamber and can be ignited in the same way a chimney buildup can. Therefore, when the ignition flame in a furnace pulls in the rush of oxygen it needs to burn, the resulting powerful expulsion of soot and oil can come out of the vents of the furnace.

As messy and unpleasant as this occurrence is, it is thankfully easily prevented. Routine chimney and furnace maintenance can usually prevent a puffback before they happen.

Maximize the Effectiveness of Your Fire Extinguisher in a House Fire

11/14/2018 (Permalink)

Use a portable fire extinguisher to create an evacuation path.

Fire prevention is so important, but it can only go so far and sometimes a fire happens despite our best intentions. In this situation, do you know where your nearest fire extinguisher is? Or how and if you should you use it?

Fire extinguishers are kind of like that antique porcelain figurine that you inherited. You know you definitely can’t get rid of it, but you don’t really want to look at it. However, unlike that figurine, your fire extinguisher will come in handy in the event of an emergency. Before an emergency strikes, you should have a fire extinguisher in an accessible location, where fires are likely to start, like the kitchen or garage. You should also have a fire extinguisher on each floor of your home. Once you have them placed you should also routinely check to make sure they are up to date.

Now, you have a fire extinguisher, awesome. But unless you plan to throw the whole canister at the fire and hope that it works, you will also need to know how and when to use it. Compared to the size of many house and business fires, portable fire extinguishers are insignificantly small. As such, they are meant to be used to either create an evacuation path or put out very small fires before they have had a chance to get going. A fire that is small enough to be contained using a fire extinguisher will be confined to one area and will not have begun spreading beyond the point of origin.

In the event of a fire, you should always begin by sounding the fire alarm and calling the fire department. Then you should identify your evacuation path. It’s possible that the flames could flare up when you spray the extinguisher, so you want to make sure you have a place to run if this should happen.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recommends using the P.A.S.S. system to use a fire extinguisher. First (P), pull the pin to break the tamper seal. Second (A), aim the extinguisher nozzle at the base of the fire. Third (S), squeeze the handle, this releases the extinguishing foam. Last (S), sweep the nozzle back and forth at the base of the fire.  These four simple steps cover the mechanics of operating a fire extinguisher.

Always remember to be aware of your evacuation route when trying to extinguish a fire and be ready to vacate the area should the situation escalate. You can find more tips and explanations on this topic on OSHA’s website.

Prevent Your Thanksgiving Dinner from Going Up In Flames

11/7/2018 (Permalink)

Photo courtesy of Isaac Wedin

As Thanksgiving approaches we are all getting excited about the holiday season. Thanksgiving helps us remember to be thankful for the blessings that we’ve received. One blessing in particular is easy to be thankful for: the delicious turkey that is part of this fall tradition. The turkey is the crown jewel of any Thanksgiving meal and the challenge of cooking the bird to perfection is part of the glory. However, as you consider how you might cook your turkey this year, keep safety in mind.

Turkey fryers are a popular method as they provide a quicker alternative to roasting your bird for hours in the oven, and a tasty result. However, turkey fryer fires are exceedingly common and we here at SERVPRO of Charlottesville want to help you understand the dangers and how to avoid disasters when it comes to fryer protocol.

Let’s talk about set up first. You need to completely thaw your turkey. Any ice, or crystals left inside a not-quite-thawed turkey will spark and splatter when they touch the hot oil which can quickly cause a fire. While your bird is thawing, you will want to choose an adequate spot for your fryer. It should be outside and well away from your home or any other flammable materials. This spot should also be sturdy and level. Unfortunately, the design of turkey fryers is top heavy and as such they can easily topple over and start a fire. To help reduce your fryer’s temptation to nose dive, place it on a level surface.

Once your fryer is set up, gather a few precautionary materials. You will definitely want a fire extinguisher handy. Pouring water on a grease fire will only expand the fire, so you will need a fire extinguisher that is up to date and ready for use. Additionally, you should grab a few pot holders to protect your hands and arms from contact burns with the fryer. Inside the fryer itself you should be using a high-quality oil with a high smoke point. To fry the turkey properly, this oil needs to be extremely hot and this oil will help prevent flare-ups and reduce fire hazards.

As you fry your turkey there are only a few things left to remember. Be aware of how much oil you need, overfilling the oil can add an extra risk that it will spill, overflow or splatter, causing a fire. Check the weather and be aware of precipitation as snow or rain coming into contact with the oil can cause splattering. The fryer should never be left unattended so have at least two people designated to keep an eye on the turkey. This practice is helpful in case there is an accident, you will have two pairs of hands ready to jump into action. You’ll also want to keep any children and pets away from the fryer. This suggestion may sound obvious, especially after I’ve just explained all the ways that a turkey fryer can cause small explosions. But it’s important to make sure that children understand the danger that this appliance represents and pets can easily be drawn towards the tantalizing smell.

Lastly, if you haven’t used a turkey fryer before, it’s a great idea to test your process. Thanksgiving can be a joyous but also stressful day. If part of the frying process takes longer than you anticipate, it’s tempting to cut corners to make sure dinner is served on time. Practice your frying skills to minimize any surprises and practice your safety measures. Let’s be honest, your family won’t complain about having deep fried turkey twice in one month.

Smoke Alarms Only Save Lives When They are Used Correctly

9/7/2018 (Permalink)

Visit https://www.usfa.fema.gov/ for more information

Every single time that I cook pancakes, the smoke alarm goes off. Go ahead, laugh. It’s comical. And it probably means that I’m terrible at making pancakes. But with this kind of consistency, it could also mean that I don’t have the proper type of smoke alarm or that it’s not in the correct place. Is it this way in your home? Are you certain that you have the correct alarms and that they are correctly placed? The U.S Fire Administration (USFA) has provided smoke alarm guidelines for use in homes.

Let’s start with which kind of smoke alarm you should have. There are two distinct kinds of alarms with either ionization or photoelectric sensors. Because these alarms sense different kinds of fires, the USFA recommends that a home has both kinds of sensors present. This could mean buying two different smoke alarms or simply buying one dual-sensor alarm. Just having the correct alarm isn’t enough, though. It also has to be placed correctly. Smoke alarms should be placed near all sleeping areas as well as inside and outside of the doors to sleeping areas, as closed doors can block or slow the spread of smoke.  Alarms should also be placed on every floor of a home, including the basement. Because it could be difficult to hear a smoke alarm that is sounding in the basement from a second-floor bedroom, the USFA also recommends that you have smoke alarms that are connected, so that if one sounds they all do.

Even if your smoke alarms are the correct kind and are correctly placed, they still must be maintained. You should check your smoke alarms once a month by pressing the test button. At least once a year you should also change the battery and every ten years the smoke alarm should be replaced.

This may start to sound like a lot of work, but the USFA has released a recent study that three out of five deaths that occurred in a home fire were in a home that did not have a working smoke detector. Additionally, with correctly placed and working detectors the chance of dying in a home fire is reduced by half!

Smoke detectors are an important preventative measure and the Department of Fire Rescue in Albemarle wants to make sure there are smoke detectors in every home. As such, they participate in a Smoke Detector Program which allows any home that may not be able to afford a smoke alarm to request a free smoke alarm. You can apply for this program at www.ACFireRescue.org

I hope these tips help make your home safer and encourage you to continue making excellent pancakes and pan seared steaks without fear of upsetting your smoke alarm.

Stay Safe this Summer at the Family BBQ

7/11/2018 (Permalink)

Find more information at www.nfpa.org/grilling

Recently, while at a local park I was walking down the path looking for an open grill to toast some particularly fluffy marshmallows. Each grill I checked was already in use, full of hot dogs, hamburgers, crabs, corn, and foiled wrapped potatoes. As I discovered a new delicacy with each grill, I had two realizations. The first one was that my marshmallows were probably going to go untoasted because it looked like there were no grills left. The second was that of all of these families, I doubted that they were all fully aware and fully adhering to the safety guidelines for grilling. According to the National Fire Protection Agency, on average, 16,600 people per year visit the emergency room because of injuries involving grills. With this in mind, SERVPRO of Charlottesville would like to take some webspace today to refresh or reintroduce grill safety to help keep your home and your family safe!

Before you use your gas grill you should check for leaks and breaks in the line. Once you’re certain the grill is safe to use, move your grill away from your home or any decks or other structures that could be flammable. Low hanging tree branches or overhangs can be especially hazardous. Make sure that the grill is on a stable, flat surface. Additionally, in this step, be sure that children and pets are kept away from the grilling area. Now that your grilling space is safe, open up the grill and make sure that the inside is clean. Use a grill brush if necessary to remove grease buildup on the grate of the grill. While your grill is in use, never leave it unattended and keep a fire extinguisher on hand. With these few tips in mind, we should have a fun and safe summer!

Charlottesville Residence: Are You Prepared?

4/24/2018 (Permalink)

2018 National Seasonal Preparedness Messaging Calendar

Ready.gov created the 2018 National Seasonal Preparedness Messaging Calendar which outlines important points and information to keep preparedness as a focus all year. The piece highlights general preparedness key points as well as key preparedness points for each season. Having a plan, knowing how to respond, and being prepared during an emergency increase your chances of making it through safe and unharmed. So what are you doing to insure that you and your family are ready for whatever happens?  Do not wait until it is to late to be prepared.  Start preparing today!  Ready.gov can help you do so.

For the month of May:  Wildfire Community Preparedness Day - May 5th

#WildfireSafety

#SummerSafety

#WildfirePrepDay

To learn more, follow the link below:

https://www.ready.gov/calendar

Question #4 For Water & Fire Damages

1/3/2018 (Permalink)

Things we ask when you call in a water or fire loss.

Question #4 - Who is your insurance carrier?

We work with many different insurance carriers in our line of work.  Part of working with them is to make sure we are communicating with the assigned agent and/or adjuster in detail throughout the mitigation process as well as creating the job file in the format they prefer to see it in.  By doing so, the job process is able to run smoother which means the customer is able to get their life back to normal quicker.  Even if you are undecided on whether you will be filing a claim or not, it is still helpful for us to know who your insurance carrier is so we are able to have every aspect of the job prepared the way they prefer to have it in the event you do indeed decide to proceed with a claim. 

Question #3 For Fire Damage Customers

12/1/2017 (Permalink)

Experiencing a fire damage? Here are some questions we will ask when you call on us to remediate.

It is very common when responding to a fire damage cleanup, to also have water damage cleanup present as water is a common method used to put out the fire.  By knowing the fire was extinguished by water, we are able to ensure that our responding crew arrives prepared with water mitigation equipment as well.

Another way to extinguish a fire is by using a fire extinguisher.  Did you know that there are several different types of fire extinguishers?  These different types include:  Water, Foam, Powder, Carbon Dioxide (CO2), and Wet Chemical.  The type of fire extinguisher used will play a role in the method of cleanup that our crews will be performing.    

Check back on our blog page in January when we reveal another question asked when receiving a fire loss and why.

Christmas Tree Safety Tips: Eliminating Fire Hazards

11/27/2017 (Permalink)

Follow these Christmas Tree fire safety tips to stay safe this holiday season. Merry Christmas from SERVPRO of Charlottesville!

The holidays are quickly approaching which means many people are going to start picking out their Christmas trees, whether live or artificial. In the midst of all the excitement associated with this annual tradition, it’s important to keep safety a priority and to be aware of some practical tips to ensure you are minimizing the risk of creating a fire hazard.

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), Christmas tree fires are uncommon but when they do occur they are more likely to be severe. A stat from the NFPA website states between 2011-2015, U.S. fire departments responded to an average of 200 home fires that started with Christmas trees per year. These fires caused an average of 6 deaths, 16 injuries, and $14.8 million in direct property damage annually. By following the below tips offered by the NFPA, you can ensure you are taking the necessary actions to eliminate the potential for a fire hazard.

Choosing your tree

  • Pick a tree with fresh, green needles that do not fall off when touched.

Placing the tree

  • Before placing the tree in the stand, cut 2” from the base of the trunk.
  • Make sure the tree is at least 3 feet away from any heat source, like fireplaces, radiators, candles, heat vents or lights.
  • Make sure the tree is not blocking an exit.
  • Add water to the tree stand and it’s recommended to add water daily.

Lighting the Tree

  • Use lights that have a label of an independent testing laboratory. Some lights are only for indoor or outdoor use.
  • Replace any string of lights with worn or broken cords or loose bulb connections. Read manufacturer’s instructions for number of light strands to connect.
  • Never use lit candles to decorate the tree
  • Always turn off Christmas tree lights before leaving home or going to bed.

After Christmas

  • Get rid of the tree after Christmas. Dried-out trees are a fire danger and should not be left in the home or garage, or placed outside against the home. Check with your local community to find a recycling program. Bring outdoor electrical lights inside after the holidays to prevent hazards and make them last longer.

The below link shows how quickly a Christmas tree fire can take off

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GQT8yOYJKxQ

Question #2 For Fire Damage Customers

11/1/2017 (Permalink)

Questions asked by SERVPRO of Charlottesville when receiving a fire loss.

Just as there are different methods to putting out a fire, based on the type of fire, there are also different methods to cleaning up fire damage.  Knowing the source of the fire is beneficial in determining what kind of fire clean up we will be re-mediating.  Below is a list of different types of fire damage:

  • Wet Smoke – Plastics and Synthetics; Low heat, smoldering, pungent odor, sticky, smeary.
  • Dry Smoke – Paper and Wood; Fast burning, high temperatures, dry, powdery, non-smeary residues.
  • Protein – Virtually invisible, discolors paints and varnishes, extreme pungent odor.
  • Fuel Oil Soot – Furnace Puff Backs.
  • Other Types – Tear gas, fingerprint powder and fire extinguisher residue.

Check back in December when we discuss our reason behind asking our 3rd fire loss question.

Questions Asked For a Fire Loss & Why

9/20/2017 (Permalink)

Questions asked by SERVPRO of Charlottesville when receiving a fire loss.

When our office receives a call regarding a fire loss, there is a list of questions that must be asked to get a better idea of how extensive the damage is.  This is the first of a series of blogs to come with the breakdown of each question we ask and why it is we ask it. 

Question #1 – Has the Fire Marshal cleared the site?

Two common reasons a Fire Marshal may have the building inaccessible are structure stability and investigation of the source.  If the fire was extensive enough, the structure of the building may now be deemed unstable and hazardous to enter.  The second reason would be if the Fire Marshal needs to investigate the source of the fire.  If an investigation is taking place, typically no one is allowed into the structure.  This is to prevent potential tampering of evidence prior to discovering the cause.  However, in some cases the area the fire started may be blocked off and the rest of the structure is made accessible.   By knowing this information, we are able to know whether or not we can schedule for a Production Manager to come out immediately or if/when the assessment can be scheduled.

Check back in November when we discuss a second question we ask customers that have a fire loss.