1 after the fire is out A Guide to the Clean-Up Process in the Aftermath of a Fire Fire Department
2 The tragedy and destruction of a fire do not end when the flames are extinguished. We at Prince George Fire Rescue Service respond to fires each year where victims are in a state of confusion, shock and despair. The loss of articles, especially family keepsakes, is very painful. The clean-up process from smoke damage alone can often seem overwhelming. This pamphlet was designed to assist you in dealing with these issues. Please take time to carefully read the information provided. If you still have questions or need further assistance, call us at Prince George Fire Rescue Service (250) It is our privilege to serve you. Prince George Fire Rescue Service
3 Introduction After the Fire Is Out Many people ask why broken windows, doors or holes in the roof are necessary when fighting a fire. Fire produces smoke, hot gases and temperatures well over 1200 degrees F. At times, it is necessary to eliminate heat, smoke and hot gases before the fire fighters can enter to extinguish the fire. Ventilation must be done quickly to help reduce the fire spread. Often walls must be forcibly opened to find the hidden fires and allow for complete fire extinguishments. After the fire is out damage may appear unnecessary. However, without the use of this firefighting technique, the building could suffer total destruction by fire. This booklet is designed as a general guide. Specific conditions may require different techniques so you may want to contact a professional restoration service company.
4 First Step After Fire Department personnel have completed their investigation, the building becomes your responsibility. Remove all valuables if you cannot live in the house. Should a fire fighter or investigator be on the scene, they will accompany you. The Fire Department will make arrangements immediately after the fire to have the building secured. The doors, windows and other areas will be boarded up to prevent unauthorized entry and ensure no further damage occurs to the structure or contents. Property Insurance If you own or are purchasing the property, contact your insurance company and agent as soon as possible. If you are renting or leasing the property you must also contact the owner. Your insurance agent will know what damages are insured. NOTE: All items in the building should be inventoried and no item should be thrown away without the approval of the insurance company.
5 If You Cannot Live In The House If You Cannot Live In the House Individuals who have experienced a fire and cannot live in their homes may be eligible to receive assistance (food, clothing, lodging, etc.) from the Canadian Red Cross. Please call and ask for Emergency Services. In cases where alternate accommodation for persons or pets is required the Fire Department will contact the Red Cross on your behalf. Construction If the building is structurally damaged to the point that it is not habitable, a Building Inspector must be called. After the building inspection is completed, a permit must be obtained prior to making repairs. Telephone the City of Prince George Development Services Administration at (250) Reminders If you have to move: notify the post office of new address notify bank(s) notify BC Hydro notify Fortis BC notify telephone company notify credit card companies check with your local school district notify Service Canada for: Old Age Security Canada Pension Plan Employment Insurance notify Social Services (250) notify magazines and newspapers
6 Re-Establishing Utilities Re-Establishing Utilities Often times the Fire Department will have the utility services shut off or disconnected as a safety precaution and also to prevent further damage to the structure and its contents. The procedures for re-establishing utility services are as follows: Electricity An Electrical Contractor under permit must check the wiring to be sure it is safe before power can be reconnected. Contact BC Hydro REMEMBER DO NOT operate wet or damp appliances. Have an electrician check them first. Electricity and water do not mix! Water This utility may be turned back on by the resident. Use caution because the fire may have damaged the plumbing, which may cause water damage to occur when the pipes are again filled with water. Natural Gas DO NOT turn the gas back on. A Fortis BC representative is available 24 hours a day. Call: After hours, weekends & holidays: Telephone Contact the telephone company business office.
7 Care of Documents and Books Care of Documents and Books Important Documents Documents are very important to your well being and can be damaged or destroyed as a result of fire or other disaster. For this reason, Prince George Fire Rescue Service has provided a list of documents that should be located if possible. Locating these documents will speed up the process of recovering from a disaster. Adult & Family Services ID Card Automobile Registration Automobile Title Bank books Birth Certificate Burial Contract Citizenship Papers Credit Cards Death Certificates Divorce Decree Drivers License Income Tax Records Insurance Policies Marriage Papers Medical Records Military Records Military Discharge Papers Passports Payment Books Reg. Papers for Animals Senior Citizen ID Card Social Insurance Card Stocks and Bonds Title to Deeds Warranties Wills Adult and Family Services Ministry clients should notify the office in their area if their ID card is damaged or destroyed. This will help eliminate problems if the need arises for cheque cashing, medical aid or housing assistance programs. Call (250) Note: it is wise to store all important documents in an approved container that is specifically designed for such a purpose. Care of Books Books can be dried by placing them on end, separating the pages and letting them air dry, or separating the pages and placing an unmarked dry paper between the pages and pressing to prevent crinkle or distorting. If the books are very wet, air dry until only damp, sprinkle cornstarch between the pages, wipe with a dry cloth and press together.
8 Damaged Monies & Tax Considerations Damaged Monies & Tax Considerations Damaged monies or securities To reclaim paper money and coins Check with any local commercial bank or Bank of Canada Taxes on destroyed or damaged property; proration reduction If during any tax year any real or personal property is destroyed or damaged by fire or act of God, the owner or purchaser under a recorded instrument of sale in the case of real property, or the person assessed, person in possession or owner in the case of personal property, may apply to the tax department of the city for proration of th e taxes imposed on the property for the tax year in which the property was destroyed. Application for proration of taxes shall be made not later than the end of the tax year or 30 days after the date the property was destroyed or damaged, whichever is later. For further information or to request an application for proration of property taxes due to property damage/destruction, call (250) to contact your local tax assessor.
9 Food Management Food Management What to do when your home freezer stops 1. A full freezer will stay cold many hours longer than a freezer only partially full. 2. A freezer full of meat will not warm up as fast as a freezer full of baked goods. 3. The colder the food, the longer it will stay frozen. 4. A well insulated freezer will keep food frozen much longer than one with little insulation. To keep food from perishing 1. Move contents to a commercial freezer firm or friend/neighbour s house. 2. Place dry ice in the freezer as soon as the power is shut off. Twenty-five pounds of dry ice should keep the temperature constant for 2-3 days in a 10 cubic ft. cabinet with half a load, or 3-4 days in a fully loaded cabinet. Food: If In Doubt, Throw It Out 1. Partial thawing and refreezing food will reduce the quality, particularly in fruits, vegetables and prepared foods. 2. It is considered a safe practice to refreeze foods that have partially thawed if the food still contains visible ice crystals. Meats These products are unsafe to eat when they begin to spoil. If the colour or odor of the thawed product is questionable, get rid of it. Note: Bacteria multiple very rapidly in thawed or non-refrigerated foods Fruit Fruits usually ferment as they begin to spoil and generally will absorb smoke or other by-products of fire, leaving the fruit bitter to the taste and often discoloured. It is generally a wise decision to dispose of such food. Ice Cream or Ice Milk Do not use or eat after the product has melted.
10 Canned Foods, Medicines, Cosmetics If you have doubts about contamination of the food, discard it immediately! Tin canned foods Do not use any canned foods where the can has bulged, is badly dented or has rusted. To disinfect the exterior of a tin can or jar, wash the container in a solution of 3 tablespoons of household bleach to 1 gallon of water. Canned foods in glass jars If the canned product was subjected to heat and the jar is cracked or no longer sealed discard immediately. Medicines and cosmetics Discard if contamination is suspected. For further information contact your local Poison Control Centre
11 Cleaning Tips Cleaning Tips Clothing with soot and smoke odor Clothing that can withstand bleaching can often be cleaned by washing in one of the following mixtures: 1. Add 4-7 tablespoons of trisodium phosphate and 1 cup of Lysol to 1 gallon of water. Wash then rinse with clear water and let dry thoroughly. 2. Add ½ cup of ammonia to 2 gallons of water. Rinse in vinegar. (Use rubber gloves) Before treating any garments, always read the care label for proper instructions. Preparing Clothing for the Cleaners Should you have doubts or questions about the cleaning or preparation of clothing, it is wise to contact a full service cleaner. Leathers Wipe with damp cloth, then with a dry cloth. Stuff your purses, shoes, etc. with paper to retain shape. Leave suitcases open for airing. Steel wool or suede brush can be used on suede. Contact leather and suede cleaner for further information. Look in the yellow pages of your telephone directory under Leather. Carpets & Rugs Wall to wall carpet A wet/dry vacuum or water extractor carpet cleaning machine are excellent for removing standing water and dirt. These can be rented at most supermarkets or equipment rental companies. Rugs If carpets are left wet, they may mould and mildew rapidly and ruin the carpet. They also must be disinfected as soon as possible. Circulating the air in the room will aid the drying process. Combating Odors This generally is a very complex problem due to the many varied materials on the market today. For best results, contact the full service fire/smoke and water restoration company.
12 Refrigerators and Freezers Although odors are difficult to remove due to the dampness of the insulation which may absorb odors, below are some suggestions: 1. Defrost and wash all surfaces with water and dishwashing detergent. Rinse with two tablespoons baking soda per quart of water and re-rinse with clear water, or 2. Wash with solution of one cup vinegar to one gallon of water, or 3. Wash with solution of one cup household ammonia to one gallon of water. After following one of the above recommendations let the appliance air dry. CAUTION: When cleaning or discarding any refrigerator or freezer BE SURE THE DOORS ARE REMOVED OR SECURED AGAINST CLOSING. Dishes Wash in very hot, soapy water. Rinse in hot water. Dishwashers are excellent for cleaning dishes due to high temperature water. NOTE: Most dishes can be soaked in a solution of 1 tablespoon of ordinary household bleach to 1 gallon of lukewarm water for 30 minutes prior to washing. Pots and Pans Pots and pans can be sterilized by boiling in water for at least 10 minutes. CAUTION: Some parts (handles, knobs etc.) of the pots and pans will not withstand the high temperature involved with boiling water. Remove them if needed. Walls May be washed soon while still wet. Use a mild soap or detergent and rubber gloves. Wash a small area at a time, working from the ceiling down. Ceilings should be washed first. Rinse with clear water immediately. DO NOT PAINT UNTIL THOROUGHLY DRY. Wallpaper (Washable) 1. Heat and ventilate the room for several days to dry the plaster as well as the paper. 2. If mildewed paper is washable, wipe it with a cloth and thick soap suds. Rinse with clear water. 3. Repaste edges of loosened sections.
13 4. When washing wallpaper, work quickly so paper does not become soaked. Work from the top to the bottom to prevent streaking. Linoleum Floors When water remains underneath linoleum for a period of time, odors and breakdown of the wood begins. There are a number of ways to remove or lift the linoleum from the floor. Contact a full service fire/smoke and water restoration company for further information. CAUTION: For safety, keep all cloths saturated with cleaning solutions or compounds (other than water) in a metal container equipped with a tight fitting metal cover. Mildew Mildew is a mould growth and will weaken or rot fabrics. Ways to remove mildew Wash stains with soap and water. Rinse well and dry. If stains remain, use lemon juice and salt, or a solution of 1 tablespoon of preborate bleach to 1 pint of lukewarm water, or dilute a solution of household chlorine bleach. Test colored garments before using any treatment. Upholstered articles, mattresses, rugs 1. Remove loose mildew from surface by brush ing with a broom. Do this outdoors to prevent scattering mildew spores in the house. 2. Vacuum surface to draw out more of the mould. 3. Thoroughly dry by using an electric heater or fan to carry away moist air. CAUTION: Never leave an electric heater unattended. 4. If mildew remains, sponge lightly with thick detergent suds using only the foam. Wipe with a clean, damp cloth. 5. If mildew has grown into the inner part of an article, send it to a reliable dry cleaner. Removing white spots on furniture 1. Rub with a cloth wrung out of turpentine or camphorated oil. Wipe dry at once and polish with wax or furniture polish. 2. For deep spots, use a drop or two of ammonia on a damp cloth and polish or rub a mixture of vegetable oil and cigarette ashes into the white spot with your fingertips.
14 Hazardous Materials Hazardous Materials Hazardous materials which have been damaged by heat, smoke or contamination should be disposed of. CAUTION: Wear rubber gloves while handling hazardous materials. Asbestos Asbestos poses a serious health risk. If asbestos dust hazard signs are posted, we strongly urge you to contact the Ministry of Air, Land and Water Protection for guidance. They can provide you with information pertaining to safe handling of asbestos materials. Hazardous Chemicals When dealing with pesticides, herbicides, soil sterilants, chlorine based swimming pool disinfectants, poisons, solvents, oil base paint, flammable liquids, industrial chemicals, or doubtful chemicals, contact the Ministry of Environment Environmental Protection Division at (250) Charcoal Charcoal briquettes may spontaneously ignite when damp. They should be disposed of or stored in a non-combustible container with a lid, away from other combustibles. Home Cleaning Products Bleaches, cleaning and laundry WARNING: UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES SHOULD YOU MIX AMMONIA WITH ANY OTHER CLEANING PRODUCTS such as chlorine bleach, Lysol, trisodium phosphate, Spic and Span, etc The products can be diluted separately in cold water and washed down the drain with plenty of cold water. Fertilizers These can be spread on lawns and gardens and watered into the soil in the usual manner. CAUTION: DO NOT crush or pound lumps of ammonium nitrate to reduce their size. These lumps are best diluted in water and used as a liquid. Water the soil well so the ammonium nitrate will not burn your plants.
15 Reference Directory Reference Directory Crisis Hot Line (250) Ministry of the Environment General Inquiry... (250) Air Quality (Venting Index)... (250) Solid or Hazardous Waste..... (250) Ministry of Water, Land and Air Protection. (250) Property and Income Tax The City of Prince George.. (250) Revenue Canada: Federal Income Tax Refund Inquiries Poison Control Centre Human Resources Ministry Regional Office.. (250) Red Cross Disaster Service Canada Pension Plan Inquiries Social Services... (250) Prince George Fire Rescue Service Emergency Administration... (250) Utilities Electric BC Hydro Water Department City.. (250) Fortis BC Emergency after hours Business City of Prince George Building Inspection Department... (250)
16 Employment Insurance BC Safety Authority Coroner s Office.. (250) Prince George Cemetery Plot Sales.... (250) Vital Statistics Birth, Death & Marriage Certificates & Wills
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