1 (Formerly the ASCR Guidelines for Fire and Smoke Damage Repair) Second Edition
2 (Formerly the ASCR Guidelines for Fire and Smoke Damage Repair) Second Edition The RIA Guidelines for Fire and Smoke Damage Repair were written by Martin L. King, CR, ASA, RIA s technical advisor. A draft was submitted for review to more than 300 professional restorers, adjusters, and members of the insurance community. The final version incorporates numerous reviewer comments. Restoration Industry Association
3 Copyright 2007 by the Restoration Industry Association (RIA) All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without permission in writing from the Restoration Industry Association. Printed in the United States of America Second edition, June 2007
4 CONTENTS Preface to Second Edition i Chapter 1 Chapter 2 Chapter 3 Chapter 4 Chapter 5 Chapter 6 AN OVERVIEW OF FIRE RESTORATION The Fire Damage Situation 1 A Typical Occurrence 1 An Ideal Scenario 4 Pressures, Problems, Risks 4 Owner, Contractor, Insurer 5 Formal Appraisal 6 PURPOSE OF THESE GUIDELINES Recommended Restoration Practice 8 Regional Differences 8 Varied Approaches 9 Changing Technology 9 CATEGORIES OF RESTORATION Emergency Services 10 Building Restoration 10 Reconstruction 11 Contents Restoration 11 Special Services 11 RECOMMENDED RESTORATION PRACTICE Restoration Ethics 12 Client Relationships 13 Describing the Damage 13 Describing the Work 14 Confidentiality 14 Insurance Relationships 15 GENERAL BUSINESS CONDUCT Contracts and Authorizations 16 Licenses, Permits and Fees 18 Insurance Deductibles 18 Record Keeping 19 Warranties and Guarantees 19 Insurance 19 Billings and Liens 20 INSPECTIONS Types of Damage Repair Inspections 22 Assignments 22 Conducting Damage Repair Inspections 23 Areas to Inspect 24 Methods of Inspection 24 Documenting the Inspection 25 Site Conditions 26 Specifications 27 Estimates and Quotes 30
5 Chapter 7 Chapter 8 Chapter 9 THE WORK SITE Site Protection 33 Site Maintenance 34 Safety 35 PERFORMING THE WORK Commitments 37 Workmanship 37 Selections 38 Communication 39 Complaints and Claims 39 Monitoring the Work 40 FIRE DAMAGE AND RESTORATION Damage Modalities 41 Pre-Existing Conditions 41 Heat Damage 42 Thermal Shock 44 Fire Residues 44 Fire Odors 46 Water Damage 47 Chemical Damage 48 Toxicity of Fire Residues 49 Incidental Damage 50 Structural Dependence 50 Chapter 10 TREATMENTS AND RESULTS Restoration and Value 51 Emergency Work 52 Cleaning / Decontamination 55 Removal of Fire Residues 56 Removal Methods 58 Neutralizing Acid Residues 61 Removing Fire Odors 62 Sealing and Encapsulation 65 Painting and Decorating 66 Toxic Hazards 67 Repair and Replacement 68 Chapter 11 BUILDING RESTORATION Exceptions to Normal Restoration Practice 69 Demolition 70 Framing 71 Insulation 73 Drywall 74 Plaster 76 Paneling 78 Modular Finishes 78 Masonry and Concrete 79 Building Cavities 81 Wood Floors 82 Resilient Floors 84 Electrical 85 Forced Air Systems 87 Plumbing 89 Chimneys 91
7 LIST OF TABLES Table 1 Some Typical Responses to Heat 43 Table 2 Some Forms of Smoke Residue 45 Table 3 Some Forms of Direct Water Damage 47 Table 4 Some Techniques for Mechanical Removal of Residues 58 Table 5 Some Procedures for Absorbent Removal of Residues 59 Table 6 Some Procedures for Paste, Polish, Gel Removal 59 Table 7 Some Procedures for Solvent Removal: Surface 60 Table 8 Some Procedures for Solvent Removal: Saturation 60 Table 9 Some Procedures for Solvent Removal: Immersion 61 Table 10 Some Typical Deodorization Processes 63 Table 11 Fabric/Fiber Responses to Fire Hazards 104
8 PREFACE There was never any doubt that the RIA Guidelines for Fire and Smoke Damage Repair would be an evolving document since it reflects current practice in restoration technology, insurance and business. Not long after its publication, suggestions for a revised edition began to emerge. Suggestions were solicited from the original contributors, the industry at large, and specialists in several areas of restoration. Unsolicited suggestions and comments were also received. The responses were evaluated and a majority of them have found their way into this revised edition. However abundant they were, the recommendations did not question the original document s format or point of view. The basic restoration philosophy remains intact. The absence of such criticism might be construed as approval, reinforced by the fact that the initial printings were exhausted far earlier than expected. In addition to many specific changes, this revised edition expands some of the existing material and contains several new sections. The addition of an index should make it more useful as a reference tool. Significant contributors to the revised edition include: Ellen Amirkhan, CRS; Ted Jenkins, CR; Ian Jenkins, CR; Ed Light, CIH; Huey Miller, Jr., CMH; Patrick J. Moffett, CHMM, REA; James A. Mosier; William Yobe; and Clifford Zlotnik, CR, WLS, CMH. Valuable input was provided by the Restoration Council and many others on an informal basis. RIA expresses its thanks to all who have contributed to the original edition and its current revision. Martin L. King, CR, ASA RIA Technical Advisor June 2007
9 INTRODUCTION While insurance companies settle claims with monetary payments, professional restoration firms provide the services which actually return fire-damaged homes, businesses and personal property to active use. Without this translation of dollars into services, insurance settlements would have no relevance. Professional restorers save millions of dollars in insurance costs every month of the year, and their repair estimates provide a basis for the settlement of untold numbers of residential and commercial claims. It is no exaggeration to state that professional restoration of fire and smoke damaged property plays an essential role in the insurance scene. However, professional damage restoration is performed in a manner distinctly different from other commercial activities. Instead of the customary relationship between a contractor and a client, an insurance adjuster is interposed. Mention of the insurance adjuster s role is absent from the insurance policy, nor has it been formulated in any general industry standard. Similarly, there exist no guidelines governing the three-way relationship of the restorer, insurance company and claimant. Existing commercial practice requires that the restorer contract with the property owners and be responsible to them for the proper performance of the work, despite the fact that the specifications and price may have been determined in cooperation with an insurance adjuster. These Guidelines are an attempt to replace the existing confusion of interests with a coherent point of view, based on the idea that independent, ethical and knowledgeable restorers benefit all parties involved with fire damage claims. The RIA Guidelines for Fire and Smoke Damage Repair are intended to establish the elements of good restoration practice and promote their use throughout the industry. Claims managers, adjusters, risk managers and agents should be familiar with these principles, which relate directly to the settlement of fire damage claims. Fire victims will find that the material provides a valuable insight into their own situation. Martin L. King, CR, ASA RIA Technical Advisor
10 Chapter 1 An Overview of Fire Restoration 1 1 AN OVERVIEW OF FIRE RESTORATION 1-1 THE FIRE DAMAGE SITUATION Fire damage occurs with a wide range of severity, from minor smoke damage to the total destruction of a building and its contents. For its victims, fire damage extends from temporary inconvenience to major tragedy. Whatever the severity, most victims of fire damage find themselves in unfamiliar territory. In addition to the disruption of their customary living patterns, they must make numerous decisions that may have a long-term impact on their personal and financial affairs. Much of the time they lack a sound basis for making those decisions. The effect of smoke and fire damage on buildings and personal property raises major questions after fires. How severe is the damage? What is the appropriate way to treat it, and what results can reasonably be expected? The restoration time required may be a paramount factor for businesses anxious to resume operation. Insurance often plays a major role in the aftermath of a fire, and insurance personnel may exert a defining influence on the course of the recovery. The NIDR Guidelines for Professional Smoke and Fire Restoration address the evaluation of damage and its remedy. Inseparable from that activity are the policies and procedures of restoration firms which perform this work. These Guidelines are addressed to the victims of fire damage, the restorers and reconstruction contractors who repair fire damage, and the insurers who respond to property claims. However, these Guidelines may also be useful to appraisers, risk managers, public officials, manufacturers and others with an interest in disaster preparedness or recovery. 1-2 A TYPICAL OCCURRENCE Every fire damage situation is unique; there are no truly typical occurrences. However, general categories of fire severity might be considered, under the headings of Light, Moderately Severe, Severe, and Very Severe damage. These categories are selected arbitrarily for purposes of discussion. In fact, many fires include areas with severe, moderately severe, and light damage. Of primary importance is the fact that, to the fire victim, any degree of damage is likely to be considered severe. With those reservations, we might describe four general levels of fire severity.
11 2 Chapter 1 An Overview of Fire Restoration Light damage: the damage consists of loose fire residues which can be remedied by cleaning the walls, ceilings and floors and contents. Residues may be confined to specific areas. No painting or replacements are required. Moderate damage: the damage consists of more intense or persistent fire residues which may be remedied by restorative cleaning procedures (restoration), painting and floor refinishing. Localized heat damage may require replacement of a burned cabinet, appliances or drywall. Fire odors may be minor or severe. Some fires, such as those involving carbonized meat or poultry, generate little or no visible smoke or residues, but leave persistent, obnoxious odors. Other materials, such as plastics, may generate extensive residues from a small quantity of fuel. Personal property requires surface cleaning where residues are present, and can largely be handled on site. Severe damage: fire damage has occurred to structural materials such as framing, and millwork, and finishes near the fire source; heavy deposits of carbon and smoke residues over a wide area; odors may be extremely obnoxious, particularly from confined, oxygen-starved fires. Enclosed wall and ceiling cavities may be infiltrated by smoke. Some contents may not be restorable by on-site methods. Repairs involve the coordination of multiple trades. Very Severe damage: fire damage to major building elements, such as floor or roof framing, heating and ventilation, utilities. Such damage often requires temporary repairs such as board-up, winterization, temporary electrical repairs, or removal of salvageable contents. Very Severe fires may involve extensive water damage from fire suppression efforts or damaged water lines. Licensed contractors, building permits and code inspections are required At every level of severity, heat, fire residues and the disruption of normal building systems alters the building environment. Considerations of health, as well as value, require that all restoration work be complete and properly executed. In the immediate aftermath of any fire the victim usually notifies his insurance carrier, if a policy is in effect. Depending on the circumstances and severity of the damage, the agent or adjuster may immediately authorize the insured to obtain temporary lodging and emergency repairs. Prudence, as well as the terms of insurance policies, usually require that the property owner act to secure the property and prevent additional damage. Typically, an insurance adjuster visits the site to inspect the damage, review the policy and discuss the claim with the insured. The adjuster might reach agreement with the owner on the restoration required, and authorize the immediate performance of those repairs. The adjuster may refer the victim to one or several restoration firms. Where appropriate, the adjuster may authorize the property owner to obtain temporary repairs to secure the property against further damage. In other cases the owner may choose to proceed without insurance oversight. A scope of work, or repair specification, is prepared for the building and for damaged personal property, sometimes by the adjuster, more often by an independent contractor. Some adjusters exert strong pressure to control the specifications and bids; others allow the property owner
12 Chapter 1 An Overview of Fire Restoration 3 to participate in the repair decisions. However the bid and approval process is handled, the decision is ultimately made by the property owner, who must authorize the restoration and live with the result. The steps that follow trace an insured owner s actions through the progress of a hypothetical severe fire damage incident. Light or moderate damage would typically involve fewer steps. The property owner: > reports the loss to the insurer and meets with the adjuster to review the loss. > authorizes emergency services to protect the property and limit further damage. > arranges for temporary living quarters and other services when required. > obtains work specifications and quotes, often in conjunction with the claims adjuster. > reviews estimates and arrives at an acceptable work specification for the building, often in conjunction with the claims adjuster or contractor. > signs a contract and payment authorization for the building repair. > determines, in consultation with a fire damage restorer or the insurance adjuster, what personal property can be restored; signs a contract and payment authorization for contents restoration. > prepares a listing of totally damaged personal property and submits it to the insurance adjuster. > inspects restored personal property and resolves open restoration/replacement questions. > assembles additional living expense (loss of use) information. > arrives at a settlement with the adjuster. > signs and submits Proof of Loss. > receives insurance check(s) for building and contents repairs, if direct payment to vendors has not been made. > inspects completed work and pays restoration firms. > replaces personal property items and submits invoices for replacement cost payments, if applicable. The sequence presented here is neither rigid nor all-encompassing. In any fire damage incident the elements of the claim may involve fewer steps or follow a different sequence. For example, the building and contents claims may be handled simultaneously, or the insurance company may issue payment only for the Actual Cash Value, with full payment held until the repairs or replacements have been performed. Progress payments to the contractor may be required, or notification of a mortgage company. It is customary for contractors to obtain a signed direction to pay form from the building owner, which authorizes the insurance company to include the contractor as a payee on the insurance check.
13 4 Chapter 1 An Overview of Fire Restoration 1-3 AN IDEAL SCENARIO In an ideal fire damage scenario the response of the insurer and restoration firms is prompt, the extent of damage and cost of repairs are quickly resolved, the property owner is fully aware of the policy provisions and his/her responsibilities. The restoration firm is competent, work proceeds smoothly, the owner s expectations are met. The owner submits necessary documentation and the insurer settles promptly on their mutually-agreed costs and allowances. The restoration firms are paid, damaged personal property is replaced, life returns to normal. That scenario may fit the expectation of most individuals who have never sustained a major fire loss. Many fire damage incidents do progress in that manner. However, some do not. In real life the expectations, stresses, and perceptions of individuals differ. The fire and its aftermath are traumatic and disruptive. It is difficult for insurance adjusters or restorers to experience the feelings of a fire victim, who usually has little knowledge of fire damage, insurance, restoration or the firms that perform it. Misunderstandings can arise, and the road to recovery may not be as smooth as one would desire. 1-4 PRESSURES, PROBLEMS, RISKS In the aftermath of a fire the victim s desire to return to normal is a compelling force, often balanced by an equally compelling desire to see the restoration and repairs performed properly. Any uncertainty regarding insurance coverage and the availability of funds adds to those pressures. Unfamiliarity with the situation makes it difficult for fire victims to formulate accurate expectations, leaving them vulnerable to the opinions of relatives, neighbors and other outside influences. From the insurance adjuster s viewpoint pressures often arise from a property owner s misconceptions about insurance. An insurance policy is a precisely-worded contract between the insured and the insurance company. The insurer is bound to follow the policy s terms because departures may set precedents with far-reaching consequences. Pressure on the adjuster also arises when a policy holder has opinions about the extent of damage or the value of property which conflict with the adjuster s views. Further, the adjuster may be compelled to apply policy provisions which the insured feels are arbitrary or unfair. Disputes do arise over the meaning and implementation of insurance policies, and case law continues to define and reinterpret the rights and obligations of the various parties. The nature of the reconstruction contractor/restorer s activities places him in a delicate balance between the fire victim and the insurer, either of whom may differ on the work required, how it should be performed and how much it should cost. The property owner is the restorer s client, but the insurance adjuster authorizes payment. The restorer may be pressed by the client to recommend or perform more work than the insurer feels is justified. The physical limits of fire damage are not always obvious, and the restorer s perceptions, based on training and experience, may differ from those of either the property owner or the adjuster. The restorer s insistence on an adequate scope of repairs is usually based on past experience. Even though it may be the adjuster s decision, the restorer must deal with the client and
14 Chapter 1 An Overview of Fire Restoration 5 suffer the consequences of an inadequate repair specification. The adjuster may meet several times with the property owner during the claim, but the restorer remains in close contact with the owner throughout the project. All resentments the owner may feel about the fire the disruption of personal life, destruction of irreplaceable property, and the multitude of decisions and unwanted responsibilities tend to fall on the restorer, simply because the restorer happens to be present. No matter how sensitive and responsible the restorer and staff may endeavor to be, it is sometimes impossible to escape the burden of the fire victim s situation. Disagreements over the amount of a repair estimate are not unusual. Factors affecting cost include the extent of the damage, the quality of the property, the cost experience of the contractor, unusual site conditions, or anticipated difficulty in dealing with a belligerent or demanding property owner. There also exist contractors that engage in price gouging. Extravagant health concerns may be raised to justify opportunistic profits. Resolving price differences requires careful evaluation of the site, the damage, and real-world costs. Formal arbitration is sometimes required. 1-5 OWNER, CONTRACTOR, INSURER In any fire damage situation the likelihood of a smooth and satisfactory resolution is increased if the participants understand each others roles and relationships. Fire damage does not always involve insurance. Some property owners are self-insured or have deductibles that make them self-insured for all but major losses. In those situations the property owner deals directly with contractors and restoration firms without external constraints or approvals. Work specifications, contracts and payment terms are worked out directly by the parties in accordance with accepted business practice. Self-insured businesses sometimes retain an independent adjuster to handle losses on their behalf. When insurance is in effect, the property owner, or insured, holds a contract with an insurer. On the occurrence of certain types of damage defined in the policy, the insured is entitled to the benefits, and is subject to the responsibilities and conditions, spelled out in the insurance contract. In general, property insurance policies provide funds for covered losses to buildings, personal property, or both. Even though funds for the repair may be provided by an insurer, the contractor works for the property owner. When a property owner contracts for repairs, he or she does so as a property owner dealing with an independent service provider. Only a property owner or their agent may authorize the performance of work on a building or its contents. The successful progress of a claim often depends on the property owner applying honest and realistic standards in his evaluation of the damage and their expectations of the results. Property owners sometimes engage Public Adjusters to represent them. Public adjusters may prepare, or have others prepare, a repair estimate and contents inventory, and negotiate with the insurer on the property owner s behalf. Since Public Adjusters typically receive a percentage of the insurance proceeds, their compensation is directly related to the size of the settlement. A larger settlement may be required simply to cover their fees. This sometimes results in adversarial negotiations and delays in the resolution of the claim.
15 6 Chapter 1 An Overview of Fire Restoration Contractors or restorers may be referred by an insurance company. Until recently, contractors existed as independent firms and had no contractual ties with insurers. Many firms still maintain that posture. However, some insurers have instituted preferred vendor programs, by which they recommend contractors with whom they have prior agreements on procedures and pricing. These referrals are not compulsory and do not change the relationship between the owner and the contractor, which remains separate from any insurance connection. Contractors and restorers are often referred on the basis of their responsiveness, quality of work and reasonable cost. Their desire to stay in favor with insurers provides a strong inducement to maintain a cooperative attitude, but should not be allowed to cloud the restorer s independent judgment in determining the scope of repairs. Restorers who are too much in the insurer s sway lose their credibility as unbiased experts. The insurance company is usually represented by an adjuster, whose job it is to identify the policy holder and the property, review the site and the damage, confirm the insurance coverage, and participate in the settlement of any loss covered by the policy. The degree of control adjusters assert varies with their company s claims philosophy and their own individual attitudes. As the disburser of funds, the adjuster can exert considerable influence over the scope of repairs and the prices charged. Differences of opinion do arise. The property owner may believe the adjuster s (or contractor s) scope of work does not fully address the loss; the contractor may feel price or other constraints imposed by the adjuster are not realistic, and the adjuster may feel the work proposed exceeds the requirements of the loss or is priced excessively high. Such perceptions may or may not be accurate. The tone of the entire process is often set by the adjuster s attitude. Commercial losses tend to encourage a results-focused approach. The pressing need to maintain or resume operations is often reinforced by business interruption and other time-related coverages, giving all parties a strong incentive to move the claim along swiftly. Preoccupation with repair costs may become secondary to the need for rapid and effective performance. The attitudes and interactions which arise in a fire damage claim can be complex. Advertizing and PR may lead the property owner to expect their insurance company to act as their benevolent protector. The adjuster may feel the claimant has an exaggerated idea of the extent of the damage or the value of their property. A committed restorer can often provide the reassurance and support needed by both parties to move the process along to a mutually agreeable result. 1-6 FORMAL APPRAISAL Most property insurance policies contain an appraisal clause. This section of the policy provides a mechanism for arbitrating disagreements between the claimant and the insurance company over the amount of the loss. If either party requests appraisal, the other party must join them in complying with the policy requirements. Litigation may not proceed until the appraisal has been completed. The appraisal clause states that each party will name an appraiser, and the two appraisers jointly select an umpire. The precise policy wording may vary but the gist is that the umpire
16 Chapter 1 An Overview of Fire Restoration 7 resolves the differences between the two appraisals, and the signatures of any two of these participants establishes the award. If the appraisers cannot agree on an umpire, a local court may be asked to name one. Appraisers are empowered to act independently of the parties who appointed them. Originally, each party paid its own appraiser and shared the cost of the umpire. However, individual companies may apply different formulas for their compensation. The appraisal clause is confined to disagreements over the amount of the loss. Questions of coverage or policy interpretation are not subject to this process. Because of their knowledge of damage and related costs, restorers and damage repair contractors are often called upon to serve as appraisers or umpires Before accepting an appraisal assignment, the designated individual should be familiar with the appraisal process and the objects or procedures being appraised. Individuals should not accept appraisal assignments for which they do not feel qualified. However, both the appraiser and umpire are free to retain or consult with experts in order to substantiate their opinions. The cost of independent experts is borne by the side that obtains them Appraisers are expected to exercise independent judgement, and vigorously support their opinions in their negotiations and presentations to the umpire. Both parties to an appraisal are entitled to well-reasoned and substantiated presentations of their appraisers views. However, it is not unusual for appraisers to reach agreement without submitting their differences to an umpire.
17 8 Chapter 2 Purpose of These Guidelines 2 PURPOSE OF THESE GUIDELINES 2-1 RECOMMENDED RESTORATION PRACTICE Despite the wide variations that exist between properties, situations, and degrees of damage, there is general agreement among reconstruction contractors and restorers that they have an obligation to provide a responsible level of care. They recognize an obligation to deal fairly with the client, the insurer, their own employees and subcontractors. Out of that agreement has come a consensus view that certain procedures and methods of operation are preferable to others, and that the preferred procedures can be characterized as recommended restoration practice. Recommended restoration practice is not a compilation of specific procedures. Damage situations are too varied to permit a rigid approach. Instead, recommended restoration practice has been formulated as a set of guidelines which, over time, have proven to be effective in a wide range of damage situations and locations. Recommended restoration practice is an approach to damage repair that emphasizes the following values: 1) An unbiased, professional point of view 2) Thorough inspection and diagnosis of damage 3) Sensitivity to the feelings and needs of the fire victims 4) Possession of requisite technical knowledge and experience 5) Open communication of professional opinions 6) Use of basic remedies in preference to superficial treatments 7) Safe and ecologically-aware application of restoration materials 8) Adherence to applicable codes and standards 2-2 REGIONAL DIFFERENCES In applying the principles of recommended restoration practice, it is understood that regional customs differ, along with local architecture and construction practice. As a result, damage repair and restoration practice reflecting those differences may deviate from these guidelines. Such deviations, provided they are consistent with the general values of recommended restoration practice, should not be considered contrary to these guidelines.
18 Chapter 2 Purpose of These Guidelines VARIED APPROACHES There is not necessarily a single answer to a given restoration problem. Equally competent restorers may take different, but equally valid approaches. Not all damage situations are governed by the same objectives. For example, the need to resume operations in the shortest possible time may preclude the normal guidelines for complete and permanent repair. In other cases the absence of funds might require that restoration procedures be limited or only partially executed. Partial or unorthodox restoration may be consistent with these guidelines provided that any departure from recommended restoration practice is clearly stated in writing, explaining the possible consequences of the deviation, acknowledged by the client s signature, and retained in a permanent job file by the contractor. However, deviations adversely affecting safety or health, or in violation of applicable building or fire codes or other statutes, cannot be regarded as recommended restoration practice. 2-4 CHANGING TECHNOLOGY The technology of building construction and damage repair undergoes constant change and advancement, and these Guidelines may not be updated with sufficient speed to reflect such changes. Creative approaches based on new restoration technology, or devised to address new building materials or techniques shall be considered consistent with these guidelines provided they accord with the general values of recommended restoration practice.
19 10 Chapter 3 Categories of Restoration 3 CATEGORIES OF RESTORATION 3-1 Damage repair is a professional specialty that differs substantially from other trades that superficially appear to be similar. Residential cleaning, painting, remodeling and janitorial services may include some of the same procedures required in fire damage repair. However, effective treatment of fire and smoke damage usually involves a flexible approach to materials, techniques and objectives. Of particular importance is recognition of environmental and health implications of heat, fire residues, moisture and odor, which directly influence repair decisions. Professional fire restoration firms often provide a variety of services, and some have developed full-service, one-stop capability. However, within the industry several categories of specialization are recognized. 3-2 Emergency services In order to provide security, protect property from weather, or mitigate the damage, a variety of emergency services may be employed. Insurance policies generally require that the property owner take steps after a loss to prevent additional damage. Emergency services are often provided by firms with related specialties. For example, a fire reconstruction firm will usually provide emergency board-up, shoring, temporary electrical service or winterization of plumbing to prevent freeze damage. Firms specializing in the restoration of buildings and contents often provide emergency drying, removal and protection of furnishings, as well as deodorization. Emergency services are often handled apart from the main insurance settlement, and are usually payable on completion of the emergency work. 3-3 Building restoration The term restoration was adopted by the fire repair industry over the years to describe the techniques required for removal of smoke residues, odor, the remedy of water damage and the treatment of personal property, or building contents. The skills and equipment employed in restoration differ from those required for building reconstruction. As a result, restoration is often performed as a separate category of work. In light damage situations a restoration firm may handle the entire job. Even when damage is moderately-severe, areas remote from the fire may only require restoration.
20 Chapter 3 Categories of Restoration Reconstruction The skills, organization and know-how required for fire reconstruction are different from ordinary remodeling and home repair. Firms that specialize in fire reconstruction tend to be versatile, capable of handling everything from minor kitchen fires to the restoration of churches, schools and large buildings. Working with structures of different types and periods, they develop a variety of techniques for cost-effective repair. Fire reconstruction contractors are usually licensed general contractors. Each coordinates its own network of employees and sub-contractors who understand the complexities of fire damage. The primary contractor bears responsibility for the work performed and verifies its satisfactory completion. Fire reconstruction contractors must be able to prepare accurate work specifications and estimates within a short span of time. 3-5 Contents restoration Firms specializing in contents restoration handle the personal property within a home or office that has been affected by smoke, water, construction dust or other peril. This work is typically performed on-site, but many restorers maintain in-house facilities with deodorization chambers, drying rooms, ultrasonic cleaners, storage vaults and other in-place equipment. When severe fires render a site unsuitable for occupancy, contents restorers may pack out the entire contents of a home or office for in-plant processing. This procedure not only provides secure, storage, it allows the restoration of contents to proceed independently of the building repair. Restoration firms also coordinate the work of other specialists, such as dry cleaners, furniture refinishers, art restorers or electronics technicians. 3-6 Special Services Fire damage repair often requires special services, such as freeze-drying of documents, structural drying, art restoration, oriental rug repair, electronic data retrieval, asbestos remediation, air duct cleaning, hazardous waste disposal, as well as the consultation of engineers, appraisers and industrial hygienists. Restorers and reconstruction contractors often have working relationships with these and similar specialists, whose services they employ as situations require.
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