Fire Restoration: What’s the Process and How Long Does it Take?

Discover what fire restoration is, who can perform these services, and the different steps that professionals take to restore a property from fire damage.

a technician restoring electrical wiring

What is Fire Restoration?

Fire restoration is a process that includes assessing property damages caused by fire, securing the property, and restoring it back to its original state. Fire restoration is part of the larger disaster restoration umbrella that can include water damage restoration, weather damage restoration, and more. The process involves removing and repairing the parts of the structure damaged by a fire while also removing any smoke damage that might have come as a result of the fire as well.

Fires are devastating forces. In the US alone, fires accounted for $21.8 billion in damages, according to the 2020 NFPA report.

Fire Restoration Process

The fire restoration process may take a bit longer than other disaster restorations. Fire restorations can take weeks or months to complete, as they usually comprise more steps than water damage restorations and other similar processes.

During the process, professionals may board up the property, demolish certain structures, and reconstruct others.

Generally, fire and water damage can happen right after the other. A fire, whether caused by a man-made intervention or a natural disaster (e.g., flood) can do a lot of damage to the structure. From there, firefighters will extinguish the fire using water and other methods, which can further damage the building.

Fire restoration professionals understand the damage that fires can cause along with the potential consequences of putting out the fire. From there, they will take all measures necessary to restore the building or structure in a safe manner back to its original state.

Who Performs Fire Restoration Services?

There are numerous companies that specialize in restoring structures after a fire. Typically, these professionals are there within hours of the person making the call. From there, they can start the restoration process, which involves boarding up the property for protection, installing a roof tarp, and assessing the damage.

Many of these professionals are certified Fire and Smoke Damage Restoration Technicians. These individuals understand how fire can damage a structure and the proper approach to fix the damage and restore the building to its original state.

These technicians are experts at cleaning, deodorization, mitigating risks, scoping, spoliation, and even the documentation of the entire restoration process.

How Do Professionals Fix Fire Damage?

Fixing a property that was damaged by a fire can be a long and complicated process. While all fire restoration service professionals may have their own techniques to restore a structure, most of them follow a similar procedure. Typically, the procedure consists of the following steps.

Damage Assessment

The first step in restoring a property after it was damaged by fire was to have a proper assessment of the damage. Professional technicians enter the property once it has been deemed safe to enter by the firefighters. From there, they can use inspection checklists to see what areas of the property have been damaged and what type of damage occurred.

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This way, they can determine what steps are necessary for restoring the building. During the damage assessment, the team will note all types of fire and smoke damage in the building or structure. This step also involves determining what things are to be discarded and which things are still possible to restore.

The goal of the assessment is to determine the extent of the damage and what the team can do to restore the property. The assessment is then used to create a comprehensive plan for restoring the property.

Secure the Property

The next step in restoring a building or structure is securing the property. This usually involves installing a fence and boarding up the building to ensure that it’s safe from weather and no one enters the structure unauthorized. Additionally, if parts of the building or structure weren’t damaged, then the team needs to seal off the damaged parts of the structure to reduce the chances of cross-contamination.

Preventing Further Damage

During fires, firefighters extinguish the flames using various methods, but the most common method is water. While water effectively extinguishes most fires, water damage can also occur, leaving parts of the building wet can lead to further damage from mold, corrosion, and more. So, the next step in fire restoration is preventing future damage by drying out the structure and removing as much water as possible.

This also involves demolition and removing anything that the fire has too damaged. For example, damaged drywall and flooring need to be removed, which the technicians do during this process step.

Clean Up and Smoke Removal

The cleaning phase is one of the most labor-intensive parts of fire restoration. During this phase, the team has to clean up any remnants of the fire. This includes all soot and smoke stains on the floors, walls, ceilings, and other surfaces. It’s crucial for the team to ensure that every inch of the affected and contaminated areas is clean during this phase.

Once the areas are cleaned, the team then applies deodorizers. This removes any smoke or fire smell that could be lingering in the area. If water damage occurs due to the fire extinguishing techniques, the team may also apply a disinfecting agent and antimicrobial chemicals to prevent mold and bacteria growth.

The cleanup phase also involves going through the vents and ducts before the team moves on to the final step.

Construction and Restoration

The last step in the fire restoration process involves rebuilding everything that was damaged by the fire. This could involve fixing the floors, rebuilding the roof, and restoring walls. The team will try their best to salvage and restore whatever is possible. But in most cases, some things have undergone too much damage and require a complete replacement or reconstruction.

FAQs about Fire Restoration

While some fire restorations are finished in a matter of days, others may take weeks or months until completion. The actual duration of the restoration varies depending on the size of the space, the severity of the damage, and other essential factors.

In most cases, teams follow the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning, and Restoration Certification standards for restoring a structure or space to its original state. The standards are known as the S740 Standard, which is the guideline for most fire restoration professionals.

The IICRC has a certification for fire restoration professionals. Professionals with this certification have proof that they are knowledgeable and capable in the field and are prepared to restore property that has sustained fire damage.

Fire restoration technicians use many different tools in restoring an area after fire damage. Some of these tools include vacuums, deodorizers, air purifiers, and a set of personal protective equipment to keep themselves safe.

Leon Altomonte
Article by
Leon Altomonte
Leon Altomonte is a content contributor for SafetyCulture. He got into content writing while taking up a language degree and has written copy for various web pages and blogs. Aside from working as a freelance writer, Leon is also a musician who spends most of his free time playing gigs and at the studio.