Recent Fire Damage Posts

4 FAQs on Flammable Gas Safety

3/27/2020 (Permalink)

Propane, hydrogen, butane, ethylene, and other flammable, compressed gases present hazards without the right precautions. While fire safety maintenance will help you avoid trouble, you should also understand how to handle and store gas cylinders. Here’s what to know to keep your facility safe.

Common Questions About Flammable Gases

Can I store containers outdoors?

Yes, as long as the manufacturer's instructions permit outdoor storage. Closely follow the guidelines on all cylinder labels. If a label is missing or damaged, you may need to call the manufacturer.

Cylinders stored outdoors must remain upright on compacted, level surfaces. These should be far away from drainage areas, manholes, or other openings. Use an open-sided enclosure with a weatherproof roof to protect the cylinders from sunlight, snow, and other elements.

What about indoor storage?

Fire safety maintenance. Indoor storage is also possible as long as you follow all ventilation guidelines outlined by the manufacturers. Store the gases in a separate building that has noncombustible structural components that resist fire for at least 120 minutes. The area should also have lightweight roofing and explosion vents.

Keep gases on the ground floor and place electrical wiring outside of the building to further limit the chances of fires and explosions.

What are the best materials for securing the cylinders?

Unrestrained cylinders could roll away or fall, so you must keep them secure. Use specialized chains, straps, and bungee cords. Refer to the label or manufacturer’s instructions for information on how to secure the units.

How should I handle the cylinders?

Inspect all items before handling. Do not handle any cylinder that has dents, severe corrosion, or other visible signs of damage. Avoid contact if you notice grease, oil, solvent, or dirt, which could cause explosions.

Open cylinder valves only with the manufacturer-provided key, and ensure you are working away from all heat sources. You must also have fire safety equipment within reach and follow all other manufacturer’s guidelines, such as opening specific valves if you’re working with an irritating gas.

Fire Damage Restoration Process

3/27/2020 (Permalink)

Every fire damage event is a little different, and requires a unique solution, but the general process stays the same. The steps listed below illustrate our process for the “typical” fire damage emergency.

Step 1: Emergency Contact

The restoration process begins when you call the SERVPRO Customer Care Center, which is staffed 24 hours a day. Our specialist will ask a series of questions regarding the fire damage event that will help us dispatch the nearest SERVPRO Franchise Professional with the appropriate equipment and resources.

Step 2: Inspection and Fire Damage Assessment

Our Professionals will carefully inspect and test adjoining rooms of your property to determine the extent of the fire, smoke, and soot damage. This step is crucial to developing a plan of action.

Step 3: Immediate Board-Up and Roof-Tarp Service

Fire damage can often compromise windows, walls, and roofs. To maintain security and to protect against further damage, the SERVPRO Franchise Professional can board up missing windows and walls and place tarps on damaged roofs.

Step 4: Water Removal and Drying (if water damage is present)

The water removal process begins almost immediately and removes the majority of the water. They will then use dehumidifiers and air movers to remove the remaining water and complete the drying process.

Step 5: Removal of Smoke and Soot from All Surfaces

The SERVPRO Franchise Professionals use specialized equipment and techniques to remove smoke and soot from ceilings, walls, and other surfaces.

Step 6: Cleaning and Sanitizing

They will clean all of the restorable items and structures that were damaged by the fire. They use a variety of cleaning techniques to restore your belongings to pre-fire condition. They’re also trained to remove odors using industrial air scrubbers and fogging equipment.

Step 7: Restoration

Restoration is the final step—getting your home or business to its pre-fire condition. Restoration may involve minor repairs, such as replacing drywall, painting, and installing new carpet; or it may entail major repairs such as the reconstruction of various areas or rooms in a home or business.

Why Fire Safety Training Matters for Your Company

12/10/2019 (Permalink)

Even if your office is fully stocked with alarms, sprinklers, and extinguishers, these safety measures are less effective if your workforce doesn’t understand emergency procedures. By implementing routine fire drills and training from a professional, you’ll prepare all your employees to stay safe during an emergency. Here is more information about why fire safety maintenance is necessary.

How Should Your Employees Be Trained for Fire Safety?          

To contain small fires, such as microwave accidents, every employee should know how to use a fire extinguisher. A brief training demonstration could save your company from costly property damage and potential staff endangerment. For larger fires that can’t be eliminated with an extinguisher, everyone should know the quickest way to evacuate the building.

To prevent injuries, you must undergo fire drills, which will force your staff to act like an emergency is occurring in your building. Every employee should move quickly toward the nearest exit, helping those who may have limited mobility. By teaching your workforce to act calmly under pressure, you’ll minimize the chances of chaotic rushing that could lead to trampling.

Most importantly, having an evacuation plan is required by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and nearly all businesses should have regular fire drills as per the state of Wisconsin fire code. A professional will help you comply with the law.

4 Types of Fire Alarms for Your Business

12/2/2019 (Permalink)

You only want the best when it comes to choosing a fire detector for your commercial building. Fire alarm protection systems safeguard your property against smoke and fire threats, preventing injuries and damage. There are many types of alarms available on the market. To help you make an informed decision, here are some of the most popular choices and how they work.

Different Fire Alarm Protection Systems

Heat Detectors

Heat detectors respond when a fire raises the temperature of a room. These alarms are triggered once temperatures rise above 135 degrees Fahrenheit. Since they only function as a heat-sensitive unit, they're meant to supplement smoke alarms to improve fire detection. For the best response, have heat detectors installed in areas where fumes and smoke are likely to collect, such as rooms without windows.

Ionization Smoke Alarms

Fire alarm protection system Ionization smoke alarms are best at detecting abrupt fires. The ionization chambers inside these fire alarm protection systems contain traces of radioactive particles that trigger when smoke enters the unit. Since these alarms are more sensitive to smoke, they can create false positives when someone burns their food in a microwave, for example.

Photoelectric Smoke Alarms

Photoelectric alarms are useful for detecting smoldering fires that create a lot of smoke. The inner components contain light beams aimed toward sensors. When smoke particles enter the chamber, the light beam inside is refracted from the sensor, activating the alarm. It's recommended placing these fire protection systems in areas with low dust buildup, since dust particles are known to accidentally trigger them.

Dual-Sensor Smoke Alarms

When you combine the sensors from ionization and photoelectric fire detection systems, you get dual-sensor smoke alarms. These types of fire alarms protect your building from both smoldering and lightly flaming fires. Since most models are designed to activate when both sensors are triggered, you'll get less false alarms than with single-sensor fire alarms. However, dual-sensor units may respond slower, causing a delay in response if a fire occurs.

3 Workplaces at an Increased Fire Risk

11/19/2019 (Permalink)

Restaurant table with glasses on top. Some work places have increased fire risk.

Some workplaces contain materials and systems that make them more susceptible to fires. If you manage a commercial space that is at risk, you must have fire extinguishers and safety designs in place to prevent costly accidents. Understanding some of the potential dangers in your workplace will also help you stay safe. Here’s a guide to some of the spaces that are at an increased risk and how to minimize it.

Commercial Establishments That Are at Risk for Fires

  1. Restaurants

Most restaurants use open flames and produce a lot of cooking grease and oils. This combination is a common cause of many residential and commercial fires. To avoid issues, always have fire extinguishers handy and ensure employees know how to operate them. You must also have your restaurant’s grease trap and hood cleaned(6 Steps to a Professional Kitchen Hood Cleaning) to avoid accumulation and promote ventilation. Staff should never leave open flames unattended.

  1. Offices

fire extinguishers Paper documents, electronics, as well as overloaded power strips, outlets, and circuits leave offices at risk for fire. A damaged power cable or overheated strip could create a spark, so always inspect your wiring for damage and excess heat. If desks at your workplace have been relying on extension cords in the long term, consider having additional outlets installed. You should also have fire extinguishers placed throughout the office, as well as alarm protection systems(Commercial Fire Sprinkler Systems Myths). A workplace safety plan should also be in place so employees know what to do in an emergency situation.

  1. Industrial Plants

Several flammable chemicals are used in manufacturing and material treatment, which is why industrial plants are at increased fire risk. Combustible materials such as fuel need to be carefully monitored and stored in a well-ventilated room. Employees should be trained to handle chemicals and operate any machinery that involves open flames. Having a fire suppression system in place will ensure issues are quickly spotted and dealt with. If you manage a warehouse, have fire safety maintenance professionals routinely test your equipment to make sure it’s operational.

Should you have a fire and are in need of clean up services or just have questions about the process, call SERVPRO od The Saint Croix Valley at 715-381-2266. Our staff of professionals are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for emergency commercial and residential mitigation services.

3 Mistakes to Avoid During a Workplace Fire

10/21/2019 (Permalink)

Fire in a workplace Don't get stuck in a hot situation, have a plan ready when you need it.

Making sure fire extinguishers are accessible and smoke alarms are maintained are crucial steps to take as an employer. If a fire does erupt in your workplace, it’s natural for people to panic. Unfortunately, this can lead to common mistakes that aggravate the situation. To ensure everyone makes it out of the building safely during an emergency, here are a few safety guidelines to remind your staff of during fire training.

What Not to Do During a Workplace Fire

  1. Break Windows

Smoke inhalation is a threat to those inside the building. In an effort to access fresh air, some people might open windows or break the glass. However, when oxygenated air from outside rushes in, the intensity of the fire will build more quickly.

As smoke and heat rise, everyone should stay close to the ground and crawl to the exits to avoid fumes. If exits are blocked, put wet towels under the doors to keep out the smoke instead of opening windows.

  1. Fail to Use Emergency Exits

fire extinguishers. When a fire starts, people might try to evacuate the building the same way they got in. However, you shouldn’t open any doors leading to the main corridors, especially if the handles are warm to the touch. Flames could be on the other side of these, and opening them could feed more oxygen to the fire and expose people to smoke.

To keep the fire from spreading, instruct your staff to use only emergency exit doors, stairwells, and fire escapes.

  1. Forget to Alert Others

When they hear the fire alarm protection system, some people may think it’s just a test. If they don’t smell smoke or feel the heat, they might fail to take action.

To protect everyone in the workplace, people who see the flames or smoke should yell “fire” to alert others that it is not a drill. Those trained to use fire extinguishers can try to control the blaze while others call emergency services for help. If anyone in the workplace has mobility difficulties, assign someone to ensure they can get out safely during your safety plan design.

To ensure your staff is prepared for any emergency situation, reach out to SERVPRO of The Saint Croix Valley. We have been helping many commercial customers set up Emergency Ready Plans and have been in the St Croix Valley for over 10 years. Call 715-381-2266 for your free commercial ERP today.

Space Heater Safety

12/10/2018 (Permalink)

Heating equipment is the second leading cause of home fires in the United States. More than 65,000 home fires are attributed to heating equipment each year. These fires result in hundreds of deaths, thousands of injuries and millions of dollars in property damage.

 Portable electric space heaters can be a convenient source of supplemental heat for your home in cold weather. Unfortunately, they can pose significant fire and electric shock hazards if not used properly. Fire and electrical hazards can be caused by space heaters without adequate safety features, space heaters placed near combustibles, or space heaters that are improperly plugged in.

 Safety should always be a top consideration when using space heaters. Here are some tips for keeping your home safe and warm when it’s cold outside:

  • Make sure your space heater has the label showing that it is listed by a recognized testing laboratory.
  • Before using any space heater, read the manufacturer’s instructions and warning labels carefully.
  • Inspect heaters for cracked or broken plugs or loose connections before each use. If frayed, worn or damaged, do not use the heater.
  • Never leave a space heater unattended. Turn it off when you're leaving a room or going to sleep, and don't let pets or children play too close to a space heater.
  • Space heaters are only meant to provide supplemental heat and should never be used to warm bedding, cook food, dry clothing or thaw pipes.
  • Install smoke alarms on every floor of your home and outside all sleeping areas and test them once a month.
  • Proper placement of space heaters is critical. Heaters must be kept at least three feet away from anything that can burn, including papers, clothing and rugs.
  • Locate space heaters out of high traffic areas and doorways where they may pose a tripping hazard.
  • Plug space heaters directly into a wall outlet. Do not use an extension cord or power strip, which could overheat and result in a fire. Do not plug any other electrical devices into the same outlet as the heater.
  • Place space heaters on level, flat surfaces. Never place heaters on cabinets, tables, furniture, or carpet, which can overheat and start a fire.
  • Always unplug and safely store the heater when it is not in use.

Fire Prevention

11/14/2018 (Permalink)

Fire can be a destructive force, but with a little prevention, you can cut down your risks.

As we are in to the season of turning on furnaces and starting space heaters, the chance of having a fire increase greatly. In just two minutes, a fire can become life-threatening. In five minutes, a residence can be engulfed in flames. Here are some steps to help if a fire should break out in your home or business.

During a Fire

  • Crawl low under any smoke to your exit - heavy smoke and poisonous gases collect first along the ceiling.
  • Before opening a door, feel the doorknob and door. If either is hot, or if there is smoke coming around the door, leave the door closed and use your second way out.
  • If you open a door, open it slowly. Be ready to shut it quickly if heavy smoke or fire is present.
  • If you can’t get to someone needing assistance, leave the home and call 9-1-1 or the fire department. Tell the emergency operator where the person is located.
  • If pets are trapped inside your home, tell firefighters right away.
  • If you can’t get out, close the door and cover vents and cracks around doors with cloth or tape to keep smoke out.  Call 9-1-1 or your fire department. Say where you are and signal for help at the window with a light-colored cloth or a flashlight.
  • If your clothes catch fire, stop, drop, and roll – stop immediately, drop to the ground, and cover your face with your hands.  Roll over and over or back and forth until the fire is out.  If you or someone else cannot stop, drop, and roll, smother the flames with a blanket or towel.  Use cool water to treat the burn immediately for 3 to 5 minutes.  Cover with a clean, dry cloth.  Get medical help right away by calling 9-1-1 or the fire department.

Fire Escape Planning for Older Adults and People with Access or Functional Needs

  • Live near an exit. You'll be safest on the ground floor if you live in an apartment building. If you live in a multi-story home, arrange to sleep on the ground floor, and near an exit.
  • If you use a walker or wheelchair, check all exits to be sure you get through the doorways.
  • Make any necessary accommodations, such as providing exit ramps and widening doorways, to facilitate an emergency escape.
  • Speak to your family members, building manager, or neighbors about your fire safety plan and practice it with them.
  • Contact your local fire department's non-emergency line and explain your special needs. Ask emergency providers to keep your special needs information on file.
  • Keep a phone near your bed and be ready to call 911 or your local emergency number if a fire occurs.

After a Fire

The following checklist serves as a quick reference and guide for you to follow after a fire strikes.

  • Contact your local disaster relief service, such as The Red Cross, if you need temporary housing, food and medicines.
  • If you are insured, contact your insurance company for detailed instructions on protecting the property, conducting inventory and contacting fire damage restoration companies.  If you are not insured, try contacting private organizations for aid and assistance.
  • Check with the fire department to make sure your residence is safe to enter. Be watchful of any structural damage caused by the fire.
  • The fire department should see that utilities are either safe to use or are disconnected before they leave the site.  DO NOT attempt to reconnect utilities yourself.
  • Conduct an inventory of damaged property and items.  Do not throw away any damaged goods until after an inventory is made.
  • Try to locate valuable documents and records.  Refer to information on contacts and the replacement process inside this brochure.
  • Begin saving receipts for any money you spend related to fire loss.  The receipts may be needed later by the insurance company and for verifying losses claimed on income tax.
  • Notify your mortgage company of the fire.

At SERVPRO of The Saint Croix Valley we have the ability to help start the recovery process of your property, your home, and your life after fire affects you. In the unfortunate event that you have a fire, please call us and let us show you how we can help you. 715-381-672.

Saint Croix Valley Smoke and Soot Cleanup

11/14/2016 (Permalink)

Smoke and Soot Damage Can Cause a Pervasive Odor in Your Saint Croix Valley Home.

Smoke and soot is very invasive and can penetrate various cavities within your home, causing hidden damage and odor. Our smoke damage expertise and experience allows us to inspect and accurately assess the extent of the damage to develop a comprehensive plan of action.  

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 The Saint Croix Valley will test the soot to determine which type of smoke damage occurred. The cleaning procedures will then be based on the information identified during pretesting. 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. 

Our Fire Damage Restoration Services

Since each smoke and fire damage situation is a little different, each one requires a unique solution tailored for the specific conditions.  We have the equipment, expertise, and experience to restore your fire and smoke damage.  We will also treat your family with empathy and respect and your property with care.

Have Questions about Fire, Smoke, or Soot Damage?
Call Us Today – 
SERVPRO of The Saint Croix Valley 715-381-2266