But have you ever considered what would happen if your home, business, community centre or church ever caught on fire? How bad would the damage be? How would you recover from a fire? See the story of this historical hotel recently damaged by a fire in B.C.
Chances are, after everyone’s safety is addressed, you’ll go through a lengthy, tedious and specialized process to salvage your belongings (if they can be recovered at all). You’ll also likely need to re-locate after a fire. In between, your things will need to be moved – sometimes to a special facility – and then back to their original spot in your home.
And so, salvaging belongings from a fire, and moving after a fire in B.C. often go together.
In this article, we’ll give some tips on what to expect, and what to do, if you are recovering from fire damage.
Know that fire damage is not just from flames: water and smoke will ruin most belongings not turned to ashes
Fire smoke, soot and the water used to put out the fire can be the biggest determinant of whether or not your belongings can be salvaged at all. This is where fire restoration companies come into play. This restoration specialist explains what the process may be like (though we don’t claim to sponsor or promote any one company). As you’ll see, everything will need to be moved out before it can be salvaged.
If you watch the second video on this news story, you’ll see floods of water coming out of a church building that had been powerfully hosed for hours to put out a fire. Now imagine what would be left after the fire is gone. You can expect that carpeting, flooring, walls and much more will be damaged by water – and resulting mould – alone.
And, as this article explains, smoke damage can be the most detrimental, and hard-to-get-rid-of effect of a fire. The site goes on, in this page, to explain that chemicals from smoke and soot damage can be harmful to humans. This is why you may want to consider a temporary relocation, or moving permanently, after a fire.
Know your first recourse after a fire, to help you resettle or move, while bringing your home back to shape
Your first recourse after a fire is your insurance policy. Insurance should cover the services of a fire restoration company to help you determine what can be salvaged of your belonging after a fire. They will also be able to professionally handle the material that may now be hazardous to your health.
The City of Vancouver publishes a guide on what to do immediately after suffering from a home fire (or other building fire, such as a commercial or community space). If you don’t have insurance, there may be government resources or charities that can help you. This can be as little as shelter for the first few days after a fire, or as extensive as social services and financial help (from the B.C. government), if you have to move out of your home completely.
Of course, it goes without saying that if you live in another city, you should check with your local city hall to find out your similar available options.
You can also see our guide on how to find temporary accommodations in Canada, here.
Learn what work you’ll need to do on your home before you can move in after a fire
There are several guides on how to clean, repair and restore your home and belongings after a fire. Here are some we found that may be useful in your search:
https://prrd.bc.ca/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/fire.pdf – this explains the importance of professional de-odourizing. It also explains that you’ll need to make sure your home’s value is adjusted, and that your property is kept safe while restoration is going on (you won’t want trespassers causing even more damage during this process). Also, it brings up the important point that a building structure damaged by fire may not be safe for the untrained to walk into. You don’t want blocks of charred wood falling on your head, so please be careful. Again, we’ll emphasize that a professional may need to do this job for you.
https://www2.gov.bc.ca/assets/gov/public-safety-and-emergency-services/emergency-preparedness-response-recovery/embc/preparedbc/one_step_at_a_time_guide_to_disaster_recovery.pdf – this guide by the B.C. government gives some cleaning tips that you may have to take on yourself. It also lists important ways and places to replace your documents, such as identity cards, tax records, and so on.
Don’t forget you’ll also need to temporarily cancel your utility services after a fire. As you can see, there is administration to do after a fire, and before you can move in or out of a building damaged by fire. It’s not just cleaning.
To conclude: precaution is the best remedy to fire restoration, and having to move
You knew this piece of advice was coming. As you can see from what we’ve covered above, recovering from a fire is a dreadful process. Not only will you be in shock and recovering personally from the event. And that’s not even assuming there were any fatal life losses (which is more devastating). But the amount of work involved in salvaging your belongings will be a headache. It can take a long time – so don’t expect to be able to move back in within a week or two.
And so, we recommend having a fire safety plan to begin with. Make sure sure your smoke detectors are working, you have the right fire ceiling paint, self-closing doors, and other building fixtures that can help prevent fire damage – not to mention save lives. Also, if you have tenants in a basement suite, make sure it is a legal one, to avoid unnecessary blame if the fire affects their safety.
If you need help moving in from your temporary location, back to your permanent home after a fire, give us a call. We’d be happy to help. The fire restoration specialists may need to handle the careful moving of other damaged items, however.
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