What To Do After A Fire

After the Fire

 To aid you, we have compiled the following information which may be helpful.


Depending upon the extent of the fire, you may need shelter, clothing, food, or other services. The fire department will notify the following agency for you upon your request:

The American Red Cross


If you have insurance, you should contact your agent immediately. Your insurance company should see to it that your residence is properly boarded up and utilities restored when possible.

If you do not have insurance, or if your insurance does not cover all losses, contact a lawyer or the Internal Revenue Service for information on your tax deduction status.

It is wise to photograph or video tape the damage to your property for documentation purposes for the insurance companies. Take numerous pictures of all damaged items and property.


Mutilated or melted coins are returnable at the nearest Federal Reserve Bank, or they may be mailed first class registered to:

Superintendent, U.S. Mint
P. O. Box 406
Philadelphia, PA 19105

Bills, half or more intact, should be taken to the Federal Reserve Bank or mailed as shown above, to:

Department of the Treasury
Bureau of Engraving & Imprinting
Office of Currency Standards
P.O. Box 387048
Washington, DC 20013

*Send registered mail with return receipt. Replacement of mutilated or destroyed bonds are handled by:

U.S. Treasury Department, Bureau of Public Debt
Division of Loans and Currency
Parkersburg, WV 26106-1328
Attention: Bond Consultant

Include name(s) and address(es) on bonds, approximate date or time period purchased denominations and approximate number of each.


AFDC and welfare clients should notify case workers if their ID cards have been destroyed. Copies of birth, death and marriage records can be obtained from the District Court Clerk in the county of birth, death or marriage.


CLOTHING: Do not send smoke damaged garments to an ordinary dry cleaner--improper cleaning may set smoke and odor. What seems to be an ever-lingering odor can often be washed from clothing. A tested recipe for clothing that can be bleached is as follows:

*4 to 6 tablespoons tri-sodium phosphate
1 cup Lysol or household chlorine bleach
1 gallon water
Mix well, add clothes, rinse with clear water and dry. Test colored garments
before using any treatment .
(*2 tablespoons sodium hypochlorite can be used as a substitute.)

Mildew is removable by washing the stain with soap and water, rinsing and drying in the sun. If the stain is difficult to erase, try lemon juice and salt; one tablespoon pesborate bleach to one pint lukewarm water; or a diluted solution of household chlorine bleach.

WALLS & CEILINGS: Allow soot to dry in place for a minimum of twenty four (24) hours before attempting clean-up. Use the same formula as listed above under Clothing. Wear rubber gloves and wash the walls, rinse with clean water, and allow to dry. Commercial products are available from wallpaper dealers. Washable papers can be washed in the same manner as walls--work from bottom to top and avoid soaking the paper to prevent streaking. Clean ceilings last. Allow ample drying time before repainting.

FLOORS & RUGS: Linoleum must be handled delicately. When water seeps underneath, it can cause odors and warp wood floors. A flooring dealer should be consulted. Rugs should be removed, cleaned and dried. Carpets should have all excess water removed, cleaned, and dried. If odor persists, the padding may have to be replaced.

WOOD: Specific steps are necessary to repair wood furniture or fixtures

  1. Clear off mud or dirt.
  2. Remove drawers and let dry thoroughly.
  3. Scrub with stiff brush and cleaning solution.
  4. Wet wood decays and molds easily. Ventilate the room or turn on furnace or air conditioner to dry thoroughly.
  5. Moldy furniture should be wiped with a cloth soaked in a mixture of water and kerosene or borax dissolved in hot water.
  6. Never dry furniture in the sun.
  7. To remove white spots or film, rub the wood surface with 4/0 steel polishing wool pad dipped in liquid wax. Wipe with a soft cloth and buff.

Many of the cleaning and reconditioning solutions used with wood are flammable, please use with caution and read directions carefully.

FOOD: Do not use exposed food items or canned goods which have to be subjected to excessive heat.


  1. Change furnace filter if blower is not operational.
  2. Clean and protect chrome trim on kitchen appliances and bathroom fixtures with Vaseline or other oil.
  3. Wash plants with water on both sides of leaves.
  4. Do not operate any video equipment, television, computer, or appliance until it has been checked for damage and cleaned. If a dry power fire extinguisher was used, vacuum all these items as soon as possible.
  5. Empty freezer and refrigerator completely if electricity is off, and prop doors open with a rolled towel or newspaper.
  6. Pour anti-freeze in toilet bowls, sinks and tubs to prevent freezing if heat is off in winter.
  7. If heat is off in winter, call plumber to drain heating system.
  8. Remove pets (especially birds) to clean environments.


  1. Remove as much excess water as possible by mopping, pumping, or using a wet-vac.
  2. Remove and prop up wet upholstery cushions for even drying. (Check for possible color bleed.)
  3. Place aluminum foil, china saucers or wood blocks between furniture legs and wet carpeting.
  4. Turn on air conditioning for maximum drying in summer; open windows to speed drying in winter.
  5. Remove valuable oil paintings and art objects to a safe place.
  6. Open suitcases and luggage to dry, in sunlight if possible.
  7. Stay out of room where ceilings are sagging.


  • Leave wet fabrics in place; dry as soon as possible. Hang furs and leather goods to dry separately at room temperature.
  • Leave books, magazines or other colored items on wet carpets or floors.
  • Use your household vacuum to remove water.
  • Operate any electrical appliance while you're standing on a wet surface.


Reminder that during cold weather, you should either arrange for temporary heat in your house or have the water pipes drained so that they don't freeze.


As tragic as your loss is, there are those few who will find your tragic event an opportunity to vandalize or steal from your property. With your home being unoccupied you should attempt to protect it by having the property boarded up. This service is available by board-up companies, but we suggest you check with your insurance company before authorization. The fire department has phone numbers to contact local board-up services but will not authorize without your consent. Whenever possible, have a family member or friend watch the property.


Following the fire at your home or business, you will most likely receive visits or telephone calls from the following companies: Carpet and furniture cleaning companies, electrical contractors, general contractors, private insurance adjusters, and/or board- up services. Before signing any contracts or agreements, contact your attorney or insurance agent for advice. The qualifications of contractors can be checked by calling your local building department. Private insurance adjusters are independent insurance adjusters who, for a fee, will determine your loss. Your insurance company will provide an adjuster and, with your assistance, can determine your loss at no cost to you. There is a possibility that these individuals will approach you prior to the departure of the fire department. If immediate action is required to secure and/or protect your property check with the Fire Official at the scene before making a verbal agreement with a private contractor.


Some of the damage to your residence and belongings were caused by the fire department. These operations, however, are standard suppression tactics used to stop the spread of fire and to minimize further damage. Holes in your roof and/or broken windows were made for better "ventilation." As fire burns, it moves upward, then outward. These holes limit the fire's spread by releasing trapped smoke and heated fire gasses, which, unless vented, would "feed the fire." Trapped smoke and heated gasses also interfere with firefighters efforts to enter and remain in the building, and extinguish the fire.

Holes in walls or ceilings were made to ensure that the fire is absolutely out, and that no hidden fires would later flare up to cause more danger and loss.

We, the fire department, have done our best to secure your property. We cannot, however, do more than a basic clean-up effort to ensure that no further damage might occur. We hope that you understand that fire personnel and equipment must be returned to service as soon as possible.

We would be happy to assist with the removal of valuables, i.e., (insurance papers, jewelry) from your residence providing we are able to do so in a safe manner; you will be asked to sign for valuables removed.