Fire Recovery | A 5-Step Guide for Property Managers

The aftermath of a fire in your building leaves physical damage in your midst, as well as financial and emotional stress.

We know this is overwhelming, and understand that most property managers have no idea where to begin.

If you find yourself asking “What do I do?” after a fire, reference this 5-step post-fire recovery guide for property managers as you’re sifting through the damage. With our expertise on your side, you can feel confident in knowing that you’re taking the safest, and most appropriate, steps for a speedy recovery for your staff, building, and tenants.

Step 1: Secure & Protect Your Building

Remember, the first step to a speedy recovery after a fire is always to protect your building or facility from exterior elements. For the most effective protection, you’ll want to ensure that all doors and windows are immediately boarded up by a professional fire restoration company.

With unpredictable weather patterns and pests, the existing damage will only worsen if not protected immediately after the fire. More so, to prevent unlawful entry, securing your facility is just as important. For your convenience and protection, Woodard provides 24/7 board-up services, as well as complete fire restoration.

Step 2: Notify Your Insurance Provider

In order to get the ball rolling on your insurance claim, it is crucial to notify your agent of the fire as soon as you’re able. Keep in mind: your carrier may suggest one or more contractors to assist with the remediation process, but as an insured business owner or property manager, you have the right to hire any firm you choose.

When seeking a reputable firm to restore your building post-fire, take the time to do your research – never choose a company that is unwilling to personalize their services to accommodate your schedule or needs.

Step 3: Determine the Extent of Fire & Smoke Damage

Never enter a building that has not been verified as “safe” by the fire department. To classify a building as safe for entry after a fire, fire officials must note that utilities are either safe to use or have been disconnected before leaving the site; never attempt to reconnect utilities yourself.

Additionally, refrain from disturbing the scene until your insurance company has officially determined the cause of the fire. Once your team of fire safety and insurance professionals have completed the process of evaluating your building and property, you may re-enter and locate valuables. If the fire occurred in a unit of your residential apartment building, encourage your tenants to look for the following upon re-entering the space:

  • Insurance Information
  • Medications, Eyeglasses, Hearing Aids & Prosthetic Devices
  • Credit Cards, Cash & Jewelry
  • Cell Phones & Chargers
  • Firearms & Weapons

Delays in the recovery process can lead to further damage to the structure of your building, as well as the items within it. Additionally, excess water and smoke residue will cause more damage the longer they remain untreated. Keep in mind, it is in your best interest to have a professional remediation firm evaluate your building immediately after the fire to determine the extent of the damage.

Never begin cleaning fire damage until after you’ve consulted with a restoration company. Though you may be anxious to start cleaning, you could cause additional damage and unnecessary stress if you don’t know what you’re doing.

Step 4: Select a Mitigation Firm

Always select an experienced mitigation company to manage the restoration and reconstruction of your building. Obviously, it is best to work with a firm that has years of industry experience, as well as positive reviews and references. When looking for a reputable contractor, ask people you trust (neighbors, family, friends, etc.) about firms they may be familiar with. When it comes down to it, a company’s reputation, experience, and rapport always speak for themselves.

Here at Woodard, we take the fire restoration process one step further by completing full mitigation to assess and correct other damage that may have occurred. During the extended mitigation, we even take the time to identify if mold issues are present and perform complete remediation services to remove mold and spores at the source.

Prior to selecting a mitigation firm, be sure to verify policy coverage with your insurance company, and gain a full understanding of how they will be paying for any restoration or mitigation work that is to be completed at your facility.

Step 5: The Recovery Process

To prevent further damage to your facility, recovery must begin as soon as possible. Here are a few things to expect during the recovery process:

  • Fireman’s hoses can leave excess water on the property. If water is left unchecked for more than a day, the chance of mold growth and water damage greatly increases.
  • Some items can be salvaged, others, unfortunately, cannot. Your adjuster and remediation firm will review the damage to determine the outcome.
  • An itemized inventory of damaged contents and structure, along with photographs will be taken.
  • If items in the building are significantly damaged, they may need to be transported to a restoration facility for proper cleaning.
  • Equipment, such as a thermal fogger, will be brought into your facility to remove smoke odors.
  • Once cleaning, restoration, and reconstruction is completed, there will be a final walk-through with the adjuster and remediation firm to ensure your satisfaction of the work performed. Note: If this step is skipped, specifically request that it is performed.

Recover, with Woodard

Rebuilding after a fire is a serious undertaking. Woodard’s cleaning, restoration, construction, and community service teams are here to help. Woodard is available 24/7, and is a proud member of Restoration Affiliates. Whether you’d like to learn more about our line of fire damage restoration services, schedule a guided tour of our state-of-the-art ContentCare Center, or even inquire about equipping your building with our signature PREP software, please don’t hesitate to contact us.


About Woodard Cleaning & Restoration

Woodard Cleaning & Restoration was founded in 1946 by Earl and Nancy Woodard. Located in St. Louis, Missouri, Woodard services the greater metro area (Illinois, St. Charles County, Jefferson County, St. Louis County, and many more). Woodard is proud to serve as the preferred provider for cleaning & restoration services. Our cleaning services include carpet, hard surface, furniture, and rug cleaning for both residential and commercial properties. We also provide water, fire, board-up, storm and smoke restoration services for residential and commercial clients. For information or questions submit a form online or call us at 314-227-3932.

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Updated 12/9/2015