Fire Restoration: Rebuilding After a Fire

A fire can be devastating to a company, even if the fire was fairly small. In addition to the cost of cleaning and repair, every day that your building is uninhabitable means that you lose more time, money and business. That’s why fire restoration needs to begin as soon as the building is given the “all clear.”

Every building’s needs are going to be different after a fire, depending on factors such as how large the fire was, whether the smoke was wet or dry, how far the smoke traveled, and what materials were within the building. Even the method used to extinguish the fire can have an impact on much restoration is needed.

Make sure you know the basics of fire restoration for commercial buildings so you can help get the process go faster and more smoothly, getting your business back on track as soon as possible after a fire.

Immediately After the Fire

Depending on how bad the fire was and how quickly it was extinguished, it could be anywhere from minutes to days before the “all clear” is given to enter the building. As soon as you are able, contact your insurance company and request a restoration team to come out and make an assessment.

They will handle the majority of the restoration and will tell you where to take items. However, as they may take several days to arrive, the minute that the building is cleared for entry, it’s important to take out any expensive equipment and any personal effects that belong to your employees.

The longer that these items remain in the building, the more damage that may be done to them from residual smoke and debris. Get them out as quickly as possible and take them to a fire restoration company to begin salvaging them. This includes any fabric items, electronics that were damaged by smoke but not fire, and any furniture that was not burned but was affected by smoke or soot.

Fire restoration companies like ServPro will have a list of items that they can help you restore. Your insurance company can also direct you to the best place to send your employees’ personal items. Everything else should be able to be assessed and cleaned onsite.

Inside the building, smoke can continue to do damage to walls, floors and other surfaces long after the fire is out, while any water that was used to put out the flames can also continue to do damage through mold or mildew growth. Therefore, time is of the essence in beginning the process; the faster you get a team in the building for inspection and restoration, the less damage will be done and the less restoration will cost you.

The Cleanup Process

Every fire situation is different, and therefore, every cleanup is also different. But there are some basic things that will take place during the cleanup process.

All areas affected by smoke or fire will be contained to prevent the spread of smoke and odors to other parts of the building. Remaining equipment, furniture and other materials will be checked to see what’s salvageable. Anything identified as salvageable will be sent to restoration services for cleaning before being returned.

Tests will be carried out on the soot to see the best way to clean it from the various surfaces. Some surfaces may be easier to remove soot and smoke from than others. Once the cleaning method has been determined, the clean-up of these areas can begin.

If sprinklers or water were used to extinguish the flames, any standing water will be soaked up and the areas dried thoroughly to prevent further water damage or growth of mold and mildew. High powered fans and dehumidifiers are often used for this step.

The air in the building will also need to be cleaned to eliminate the odor of smoke and mildew and any particulates of the two that remain behind. This can be done using several different methods and types of equipment including air scrubbers, HEPA vacuums, negative air fans and ozone machines.

It’s possible that during these processes, some of the building may need to be further demoed to reach damaged areas or to remove them. Once additional demoing is completed, the air and soot have been cleared and any salvageable items have been removed for cleaning, rebuilding may begin.

Restoring the Building

After the cleanup crew has finished, your contractor will take over and begin restoring the building. While a lot of this will be repair work and the replacement of things like walls, floors and ceilings, it’s also important to consider steps you can take to mitigate future damage in the event of another fire.

Fire alarms and sprinkler systems are only the first steps in creating a fire mitigation plan for your building. To truly help prevent this kind of damage from happening again, consider installing smoke and fire curtains at crucial places within the building.

Smoke curtains help prevent the spread of smoke - one of the biggest causes of damage during a fire - throughout the building. Installed in areas where smoke is likely to travel, such as elevator shafts, stairwells and atriums, they can help contain the smoke from a fire until fire departments can arrive to extinguish the flames. Fire curtains can also be used in sensitive areas to help block the spread of flames as well.


Combined with other fire mitigations systems, smoke and fire curtains can help prevent serious damage to a building during a fire. This allows you to get your business back up and running faster and with less money spent on restoration.

Get Back to Work Sooner

Minutes count when it comes to fighting a fire, but time is also of the utmost importance when dealing with the aftermath as well. Getting the building cleaned quickly is your best chance at minimizing the associated costs of damage and lost time. Deal with fire restoration as quickly as possible and help minimize any future damage by installing smoke curtains within the building to help your business get back to work faster.

For more information on how you can protect your building, contact Smoke Guard and speak with a professional.