After The Fire
A fire in your home can be a devastating, life altering event. Fire doesnt care about your family members, it doesnt care about your pets, or your family photos. It doesnt care about the big screen TV or the antique car in the garage. From the loss of a family member or pet, to the loss of personal property that can never be replaced, no one is immune to fire. It can strike any time, any where. Fire is responsible for the loss of approximately 6000 lives a year, usually our very young or our elderly. It destroys over 700,000 homes and causes over two billion dollars in damage each year.
Recovering from a fire can be a long, arduous task. You will need the assistance of many people, companies and agencies for this to happen. We at East Lake Fire Rescue have compiled the following information to assist you through this process.
If further assistance is needed, feel free co contact our Fire Administration Offices at (727) 784-8668
The first thing to do after a fire is contact your insurance company or agent as soon as possible. If you are renting or leasing the property, contact the owner also. Your insurance adjuster may be able to help you in making immediate repairs or helping to secure your home. If you cannot reach your agent and need assistance in boarding up your home, a general contractor or a fire damage restoration company can help. Check your yellow pages.
Remove as many valuables as possible if you must stay elsewhere. If East Lake Fire Rescue is investigating the fire, a firefighter will accompany you through the house when you remove your valuables. Be sure to inventory the valuables that you remove.
If your property is not insured, or if your insurance will not cover all your losses, contact your family lawyer or the Internal Revenue Services for directions as you may be eligible for a tax deduction.
Documents and Records
Documents are very important to your well being and can be damaged or destroyed as a result of fire. Copies of all important papers should be stored in an approved fire rated strong box or safe, or be kept in a bank safe deposit box. The following is a list of these type documents:
Copies of marriage and divorce papers can be obtained from the Clerk of Court in the County in which you were wed.
Copies of birth and death certificates can be obtained from the States Bureau of Vital Statistics.
Often the Fire Department will have the utilities shut off or disconnected as a safety precaution and also to prevent further damage to the structure and its contents.
The utility company will not make repairs on the customers side of the meter such as house wiring or gas lines. A contractor will have to be brought in to handle such repairs. All repairs of this nature will require permits and inspection by the proper building departments. The utility company will not restore your utilities until repairs are approved by the Building Department. If the Fire Department turned off your electrical or gas services, contact the appropriate company to have the service turned back on. DO NOT ATTEMPT TO RECONNECT UTILITIES YOURSELF!!
Dont attempt to use wet appliances until you have had a service technician check them out.
Your pots, pans, glasses and flatware should be scrubbed with a fine powdered cleaner. You can polish copper and brass with a special polish or salt sprinkled on a cloth saturated with vinegar.
If in doubt, throw it out
Wash your canned goods with soap and water. Do the same with food in jars. If the labels come off be sure to label the contents with a marker. Do not use canned goods that have dents or bulges or are rusted.
If your freezer has stopped running, you can still save the food inside. Keep the freezer door shut. Your freezer has enough insulation to keep the food frozen for at least one day, perhaps more.
Move your food to a neighbors freezer or a commercial freezer, or coolers packed with ice.
If your food has thawed observe the following procedures:
Smoke odor and soot can sometimes be washed from clothing. The following formula will often work for clothing that can be bleached:
4-6 cups tri-sodium phosphate (can be purchased in paint stores)
1 cup Lysol or any household chlorine bleach
1 gallon warm water
Mix well, add clothes, agitate load, rinse in clean water, dry thoroughly. To remove mildew, wash the fresh stain with soap and water rinse and dry thoroughly. If the stain isnt gone, use lemon juice and salt, or a diluted solution of chlorine bleach.
Take wool, silk, rayon or other delicates to the dry cleaner as soon as possible.
Cleaning walls, Furniture and Carpeting
NOTE: Before cleaning be sure to contact your insurance company. Theres no sense in cleaning something your insurance company is going to total. Also consider documenting all damage with still or video images.
Leather And Books
Wipe your leather goods with a damp cloth and the a dry cloth. Stuff purses and shoes with newspaper to retain their shape. Leave suitcases open. Leather goods should be dried away from the heat or sun. When leather goods are dry, clean with saddle soap. You can use steel wool or a suede brush on suede. Rinse leather and suede jackets in cold water and allow them to dry out of the hear or sun. Books can be dried by placing them on one end with the pages open to keep the pages from wrinkling. Alternating drying and pressing will prevent mildewing. If your books are very damp sprinkle corn starch or talc between the pages. Brush off when dry. A fan turned on the books will also help them to dry.
Refrigerators And Freezers
To remove odors from your refrigerator or freezer, wash the inside with a solution of baking soda and water or use one cup of vinegar or a household ammonia to one gallon of water. An open container of baking soda, or a piece of charcoal placed in the refrigerator or freezer will absorb odors.
CAUTION: When cleaning or discarding any refrigerator or freezer, be sure to remove the doors or secure the doors so children will not be able to be trapped inside.
If You Cant Live In The House
This may be your decision or one based on the building inspectors judgment that the building is unsafe. If you decide to leave:
East Lake Fire Rescue
Emergency . 911
Pinellas County Sheriffs Office
Administration.................... .... .. .582-6200
American Red Cross
Pinellas County .446-2358
Pinellas County Water Department ..464-4714
Pinellas County Water Department Emergencies . .582-2200
Clearwater Gas ..562-4600
Clearwater Gas Emergencies .. 462-6633
Florida Power (Progress Energy) .....1-800-228-8485
Tampa Electric (TECO) 442-9200
Tampa Electric (TECO) Emergency ...813-223-0800
Bright House Cable ...562-5020
Sewer Department .464-3588
Internal Revenue Service .. ...1-800-829-1040
Social Security Administration ... ..1-800-772-1213
Pinellas County Building Department ..464-3241
Pinellas County Transit Authority ....530-9911
Food Pantry ... 443-4031
Salvation Army ..... ..446-4177