A fire will change your life in many ways. Your home and many of your things may have been badly damaged by flames, heat, smoke, and water. The firefighters may have cut holes in the walls or roof, looking for hidden flames or letting heat and smoke out. Anything that you want to save will need to be carefully cleaned. Knowing where to begin and who can help you is important.
Safety & Security
Check with the fire department to make sure your home is safe to enter. Be careful when you go inside – floors and walls may not be as safe as they look.
The fire department will have to shut off your utilities if they are not safe to use. Do not try to turn them back on by yourself. This could be very dangerous.
Do not eat, drink, or breathe in anything that has been near the flames, smoke, soot, or water used to put the fire out.
Do not touch any fire-damaged items. Ask the advice of the fire department, local building officials, your insurance agent, or Just Right Cleaning & Construction before starting to clean or make repairs.
In some cases, you may need to board up openings to secure your property. Just Right Cleaning & Construction can help you with rapid-response board and tarp-up service.
If you leave your home, call the local police department to let them know that the site will be vacant.
Contact your local disaster relief service, such as the American Red Cross or the Salvation Army. They will help you find a place to stay and find food, clothing, and medicine.
If you have pets, try to leave them with a family member, friend, or veterinarian. Keep your pets out of the house until the cleanup is complete to keep them safe.
Contact Your Insurance Agent and Landlord or Mortgage Company
If you have insurance, contact your insurance company right away.
Ask what you should do to keep your home safe until it is repaired.
Ask who you should talk to about cleaning up your home.
Talk with them about how to determine the value of your home and its contents.
Begin saving receipts for any money that you spend related to fire loss. The receipts may be needed later by the insurance company and to prove any losses claimed on your income tax.
If you are not insured, reach out to community groups for aid and assistance.
Contact your landlord or mortgage company.
Do not throw any damaged items away until an inventory is complete with photo documentation.
Documents and Records
You will want to find and, if need be, replace many of the following documents if they were destroyed or lost in the fire:
Driver's License & Passport
Social Security Cards
Credit Cards and Checks
Birth, Death, and Marriage Certificates
Titles to Deeds
Medical Insurance Cards
Stocks and Bonds
Military Discharge Papers
Income Tax Records
Animal Registration Papers
Damaged money may still have value. If half or more is still intact, you can get it replaced through your Regional Federal Reserve Bank. If there is not one near you, you can mail it (registered mail – return receipt requested) to:
Department of the Treasury Bureau of Engraving and Printing Office of Currency Standards
P.O. Box 37048 Washington, DC 20013
After the fire, the cleaning and restoration experts at JRCC provide the following services:
Complete board and tarp-up services
Fire and smoke damage mitigation
Complete restoration and reconstruction services
Contents cleaning and storage
Whether you or your insurer is responsible for engaging a company to provide these services, be clear about who will pay for it. In addition, be sure to get an estimate of the cost of the work and agree to it in writing.
Click the images below to be redirected to helpful resources from FEMA, the American Red Cross, and the Salvation Army.
American Red Cross
Frequently Asked Questions About Fire Department Actions
Why did the firefighters break windows and cut holes in the roof?
As a fire burns, it moves up, down, and across, growing very fast. Breaking windows and cutting holes in the roof slows the fire's growth. It also helps get rid of dark smoke that makes it hard for firefighters to see to fight the fire more quickly. In the end, ventilation can help save lives and property.
Why did the firefighters cut holes in my walls?
Firefighters may cut holes in the walls to make sure that the fire is not hidden behind walls and completely out.
How can I get a copy of the firefighter's report?
In most areas, a fire report is a public document. Ask for it from your 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.