Recent Fire Damage Posts

Fire Restoration for Insurance Professionals

1/20/2020 (Permalink)

Are you an insurance professional who would like to learn more about cleaning & restoring smoke damaged contents?  If so, we have a great opportunity for you!

On Wednesday, March 11th, 2020, we will be hosting two Continuing Education Courses at the Wisconsin Timber Rattler Stadium in Appleton.  There will be a 3 credit morning class on "Ethics" and a 2 credit afternoon class on "Cleaning & Restoring Smoke Damaged Contents".

Coffee & Pastries will be served at the morning registration and lunch will be served at 11:30.  You are welcome to join us for lunch regardless of which classes you are attending.

This has become a very popular annual event and space is limited, so register early.  To reserve your spot, contact our office at (920) 832-1110 or email: jleadley@SERVPROappleton.com

We look forward to seeing you!    

Candle Safety

1/9/2020 (Permalink)

Valentine’s Day is fast approaching.  Many people will burn candles for the holiday.  Candles can create a romantic and relaxing atmosphere while producing a pleasing scent.  But when used improperly, candles can cause house fires.  According to the National Fire Protection Association, approximately 8,200 home fires are started each year by candles. 

According to the National Candle Association here are some candle safety basics:

  • Before burning, trim the candle wick to ¼ inch in order to prevent a flame from being too large
  • Always burn candles in a well-ventilated room and avoid drafts/vents
  • Never leave a candle unattended
  • Never place a candle near or on anything that can catch fire
  • Use a candle snuffer to extinguish the flame (never use water)
  • Do not move a candle until it is completely cooled

The best way to prevent house fires caused by candles is to not use candles at all. Here are some alternatives to candles that can help create that desired atmosphere and scent without the danger of a flame:

  • Essential Oil Diffuser
  • Battery-Powered Candles
  • Candle Warmers

But if you do experience smoke or fire damage as the result of a burning candle, our experts at SERVPRO of Appleton & Winnebago County are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to help restore your property. 

Great American Smokeout

11/21/2019 (Permalink)

November 21st marks the “Great American Smokeout”.  The American Cancer Society sponsors the Great American Smokeout every year on the third Thursday in November.  This is an annual social engineering event to encourage Americans to quit tobacco smoking.  It challenges smokers to quit smoking for 24 hours in the hopes that they will continue beyond 24 hours.  While we all know the health benefits of not smoking, we in the restoration business think it’s a good idea to not smoke as well.

According to FEMA, “An estimated 7,600 smoking-related fires in residential buildings occur each year in the United States.  While smoking-related fires accounted for only 2 percent of all residential building fires, they were a leading cause of civilian fire deaths, accounting for 14 percent of fire deaths in residential buildings.  Nonconfined fires accounted for 93 percent of residential building smoking-related fires.  Sixty-seven percent of nonconfined residential building smoking-related fires occurred because of abandoned or discarded smoking materials or products, primarily cigarettes.  The bedroom was the leading area of fire origin for nonconfined residential building smoking-related fires at 24 percent.  Residential building smoking-related fires occurred most often from noon to 8 p.m., peaking from2 to 3 pm at 6 percent”

Giving up smoking will not only improve your health, but it will also reduce your risk of a home fire.  Consider joining the “Great American Smokeout” today.   

What is a Puffback?

11/6/2019 (Permalink)

Cold weather is upon us sooner than expected this year.  Sadly it's time to talk about furnaces, preparing our homes for winter and similar matters.  We here at SERVPRO have a brochure to discuss winter related topics.  Stop by our office or ask your SERVPRO professional visiting your home or office for one of these brochures.  Or follow our blog in the coming weeks and we will be sharing information from this brochure.  

Today we'll talk about "puffbacks".  "A puffback is a messy furnace malfunction that occurs when an oil burner backfires, sending soot throughout your home or business.  It can happen all at once, covering an interior in grimy soot, or a puffback can leak soot particles more gradually.  Equipped with the training, tools and experience to quickly and efficiently clean and restore your home or business, SERVPRO of Appleton will help make your puffback "Like it never even happened."   

Kitchen Fires

7/1/2019 (Permalink)

Kitchen fires are the number one cause of home fires, and a grease fire is the most common type of kitchen fire.  Your home’s kitchen is where heat, electricity, water and grease all come together.   A grease fire is extremely dangerous as it can get out of control quickly and spread from the stove throughout the kitchen and other rooms of the house. 

There are two common types of grease fires in the kitchen.  One is in the cooking pan itself and the other is under the burner in the drip pan. Often, drip pan fires result from previous cooking sessions. When something is spilled into the drip pan it cannot be cleaned until the burner and the stove has cooled.  It’s not uncommon for people to forget to go back and clean the drip pan, setting themselves up for trouble the next time they cook.    

Here are some tips for preventing kitchen grease fires:

  1. Before cooking anything, make sure the burner is cool and wipe up any spills in the drip pan and around the burner before turning on the heat.
  2. The most common reason for a grease fire is leaving a hot pan unattended. Keep your eye on all pans while cooking.
  3. Pay attention to heat ratings for cooking oil. Some oils can be heated more than others before catching fire.  If you are cooking and the oil starts to smoke, it is too hot.  The flash point of a grease fire is 500 degrees Fahrenheit.  Grease will smoke furiously before it ignites, so if you notice smoke, turn down the heat immediately.
  4. Keep cookbooks, towels, paper towels and anything combustible away from the stove. A grease fire can quickly turn into a bigger fire if it catches onto other combustibles. 
  5. Avoid heating grease before putting food into it. Food can fall quickly into the grease and make it splash out, causing grease burns to you or hitting the heat source and catching fire.
  6. When deep frying, use a pan or cooking container designed for deep frying that will allow equal space of the grease and food contents above what you are frying. For example, if you are cooking chicken and the grease and chicken are three inches deep, the pan sides should be at least six inches deep. 
  7. Have a class ABC fire extinguisher in your kitchen. Experts recommend having at least three fire extinguishers in your home; in the kitchen, garage and main living area.
  8. If a pan does catch fire, the best thing to do is smoother it, by using an oven mitt and placing a lid on top of the pan or by using a fire extinguisher. NEVER throw water on the fire or try to run it to the sink or outside. 

And if a kitchen grease fire does get out of control, resulting in damage or odor to your home, our experts at SERVPRO of Appleton are here to help.  We can clean your home "Like it never even happened."   

Preparing Yourself in Case of Fire Damage

5/30/2019 (Permalink)

Linda Cobb, 15 year owner of a disaster restoration company in Michigan, and author of the book “Talking Dirty with the Queen of Clean” also gives good advice in Chapter 29 “Turning Down the Heat on Fire Damage”.

….in those first hours after a fire it’s all you can do to remember your name.  The fire truck has just left and there you stand amid what once was your home and is now a smelly, wet, black mess that you hardly recognize.  You want to sit down and have a good cry, but there isn’t any place clean to sit.  What do you do now? Is everything ruined?  This chapter will help you deal with the emotional turmoil and give you sound information about what you, as the homeowner, need to do.

Just in Case

First, as soon as you are done reading this, put your homeowner’s policy, along with your agent’s name and phone number in a fireproof box or bank safety deposit box.  This enables you to easily find them and protects them from being destroyed in the fire.  Make notes from this chapter and put them with your insurance information.

Get on the Phone

After the fire is out, call your insurance agent or the 800 number that is often provided on your policy to report claims.

Call immediately.  It may seem like the damage couldn’t be worse, but it could.  After a fire there can be ongoing damage from acid soot residue.  Fire produces two main pollutants – nitrous oxide (from burning wood, food, etc.) and sulfur dioxide (from burning plastics and petroleum by products, etc.)  When these pollutants combine with moisture and humidity, they form acid!  Within hours this can cause substantial and continuing damage.  Prompt attention from your local disaster restoration firm will eliminate the problem and prevent further damage to valuables.

Our experts at SERVPRO of Appleton are here for you 24 hours a day, seven days a week.  We will preserve, protect and secure your property with our board up service should it be necessary.  And we will work with your insurance adjuster to estimate the damage and begin the clean up process. 

Electrical Fires & Arc Faults

1/17/2018 (Permalink)

Electrical fires are one of the leading causes of home fires.  And while things like faulty wiring, overheating appliances, misuse of extension cords and heating units, and even faulty light fixtures are most often the cause, it's important to note that the underlying cause is most often arc fault conditions.  The National Fire Protection Agency and the National Association of State Fire Marshals, estimate that 50 to 75 percent of all electrical home fires in the United States are caused by arc fault conditions.  An arc fault is a high power discharge of electricity between two or more conductors.  This discharge creates heat, which can break down the insulation covering wires and trigger and electrical fire.

So while it's important to take precautions like not overloading electrical outlets, inspecting appliance cords for damage, keeping combustible materials away from heat sources, and watching for signs of faulty wiring like switches that crackle or lights that dim, it's also a good idea to install arc fault circuit interrupters where appropriate.  While conventional circuit breakers respond to short circuits and overloads, arc fault circuit interrupters, detect an electrical arc and break the circuit if one is detected. Arc Fault Circuit Interrupters are selective. Normal arcs do not cue them to trip.  Their circuitry continuously monitors the electrical current and discriminates between normal and unwanted arcing conditions.  

Kitchen Grease Fire

7/19/2017 (Permalink)

Your home’s kitchen is where heat, electricity, water, and grease come together. It’s no wonder, kitchen fires are the number one cause of home fires.  And the most common type of kitchen fire is a grease fire.  A grease fire is extremely dangerous as it can get out of control quickly and spread from the stove throughout the kitchen and other rooms of the house. 

There are two common types of grease fires in the kitchen.  One is in the cooking pan itself and the other is under the burner in the drip pan. Often, drip pan fires result from previous cooking sessions. When something is spilled into the drip pan it cannot be cleaned until the burner and the stove has cooled.  It’s not uncommon for people to forget to go back and clean the drip pan, setting themselves up for trouble the next time they cook.    

Here are some tips for preventing kitchen grease fires:

  1. Before cooking anything, make sure the burner is cool and wipe up any spills in the drip pan and around the burner before turning on the heat.
  2. The most common reason for a grease fire is leaving a hot pan unattended. Keep your eye on all pans while cooking.
  3. Pay attention to heat ratings for cooking oil. Some oils can be heated more than others before catching fire.  If you are cooking and the oil starts to smoke, it is too hot.  The flash point of a grease fire is 500 degrees Fahrenheit.  Grease will smoke furiously before it ignites, so if you notice smoke, turn down the heat immediately.
  4. Keep cookbooks, towels, paper towels and anything combustible away from the stove. A grease fire can quickly turn into a bigger fire if it catches onto other combustibles. 
  5. Avoid heating grease before putting food into it. Food can fall quickly into the grease and make it splash out, causing grease burns to you or hitting the heat source and catching fire.
  6. When deep frying, use a pan or cooking container designed for deep frying that will allow equal space of the grease and food contents above what you are frying. For example, if you are cooking chicken and the grease and chicken are three inches deep, the pan sides should be at least six inches deep. 
  7. Have a class ABC fire extinguisher in your kitchen. Experts recommend having at least three fire extinguishers in your home; in the kitchen, garage and main living area.
  8. If a pan does catch fire, the best thing to do is smoother it, by using an oven mitt and placing a lid on top of the pan or by using a fire extinguisher. NEVER throw water on the fire or try to run it to the sink or outside. 

And if a kitchen grease fire does get out of control, resulting in damage or odor to your home, our experts at SERVPRO of Appleton are here to help.  We can clean your home "Like it never even happened."