What do I do after I suffer a house fire?

Fire and Smoke Damage

A fire will change your life in many ways. Knowing where to begin
and who can help you is important. The U.S. Fire Administration
hopes you find this information useful in your journey to return
to normal.

What to Expect
A fire in a home can cause serious damage. The building and many
of the things in your home may have been badly damaged by flames,
heat, smoke and water.
You will find that things the fire did not burn up are now ruined by
smoke and soggy with water used to put out the flames. Anything
that you want to save or reuse will need to be carefully cleaned.
The firefighters may have cut holes in the walls of the building to look
for any hidden flames. They may even have cut holes in the roof to let
out the heat and smoke. Cleanup will take time and patience.
If your home had a home fire sprinkler system, you
will find little damage from flames, heat, smoke and
water. If you plan to rebuild your home, now is the
time to think about installing sprinklers. You can
find more information at the Home Fire Sprinkler
Coalition’s website: www.hfsc.org

Use Caution
It is important to understand the risk to your safety and health
even after the fire is out. The soot and dirty water left behind may
contain things that could make you sick.
Be very careful if you go into your home and if you touch any fire damaged
items. Ask the advice of the fire department, local building
officials, your insurance agent, and restoration specialists before
starting to clean or make repairs.
Frequently Asked Questions About Fire Department
Q: Why did firefighters break windows and cut holes in the roof?
A: As a fire burns, it moves up, down and across, growing very
fast. Breaking windows and cutting holes in the roof is called
ventilation. This slows the fire’s growth. It helps get rid of dark
smoke that makes it hard for firefighters to see. It helps them
fight the fire more quickly. In the end, ventilation can help save
lives and property.
Q: Why do firefighters cut holes in walls?
A: Firefighters may cut holes in the walls to make sure that the fire
is completely out and not hidden in the walls.
Q: How can I get a copy of the fire report?
A: In most areas, a fire report is a public document. Ask for it at
the fire department or the fire marshal’s office. The fire report
will provide you with information your insurance company and
other official offices may need.

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