According to the U.S. Fire Administration, each year in the United States fire departments respond to over 1 million fires of all types. In addition to the tragic deaths and injuries caused by some fires, they also annually result billions of dollars in property damage.
Many of these fires occur in people’s homes and businesses and can be caused by everything from cooking mishaps and electrical malfunctions to arson. No matter the cause, the damage and destruction caused by a building fire and efforts to extinguish it can be extensive and are often obvious.
Depending on the size of the structure fire, type of building it takes place in, and proximity to other homes or buildings, it is possible for there to be additional property damage that might not be immediately evident. This damage could be in other parts of the same building, such as in adjacent units in an apartment or office complex, or even in nearby buildings not directly touched by flames. Two causes of this type of property damage following a fire include smoke and water damage.
Fires typically produce an enormous amount of smoke that can be carried some distance in the wind and often easily infiltrates adjoining properties and nearby buildings. This smoke is filled with combustion by-products that include soot, ash and char that can have damaging effects to both properties and to humans breathing the smoke filled air. In addition to leaving behind unpleasant odors, smoke residues can cause corrosion, etching and discoloration within a property.
Water damage from fire suppression efforts can also damage building materials, furnishings and belongings. For example, water used to put out a fire in a third floor apartment will makes its way down to the lowest level it can reach resulting in water damage on multiple floors. These may leave obvious signs of damage, such as water logged floors, but even water and moisture behind walls and ceilings without obvious signs of loss can cause property damage and quickly lead to the growth of mold. In fact, mold can begin to grow in as shorts as 48 hours and the presence of elevated levels of mold will impact the indoor air quality (IAQ) of the building. Exposure can cause everything from allergies and hypersensitivity pneumonitis (HP) to triggering asthma in those with the condition. Some types of mold can even cause infections in people with a weakened immune system.
Older homes and buildings that have been damaged and require remediation or rebuilding may also now have dangers associated with lead-based paints and asbestos.
These are just a few things to know about property damage following a fire. To learn more about this or other health and safety, indoor air quality, occupational or environmental issues, please visit the websites shown in the video and below.
Clark Seif Clark http://www.csceng.com
EMSL Analytical, Inc. http://www.emsl.com
Indoor Environmental Consultants, Inc. http://www.iecinc.net
LA Testing http://www.latesting.com
Maine Indoor Air Quality Council http://www.maineindoorair.org
Zimmetry Environmental http://www.zimmetry.com
Healthy Indoors Magazine http://www.iaq.net
Hudson Douglas Public Adjusters http://HudsonDouglasPublicAdjusters.com