When your home has been damaged in a fire, as a homeowner, you are responsible for securing the damaged property. The home must be secured before any repairs can be done. Before we dive into securing the home, let’s talk about basic safety measures to take immediately after a house fire.
When and How to Enter a Fire Damaged House
While it will be tempting to want to reenter your home right after a fire, don’t! You should always wait until the home has been inspected by a professional and you have been advised by a firefighter, building official or structural stabilization professional that it is safe to enter.
A damaged building is a dangerous building.
It may look safe, yet be structurally unsound, depending on the damage to floors, roofs and load bearing walls. A house fire can weaken floors and walls, yet damage may not be visible. Never let children or pets enter either, of course.
Once you do get the green light to enter the property from a professional, you should wear the appropriate personal protection equipment (PPE) and do not enter the home alone. It’s best to enter with a professional. Do not let friends and neighbors enter an unsafe site either or, again, your children.
Once you have a sense of the damage that’s been done by the house fire, it’s time to call professionals who can help you secure your home properly. This must be done prior to any permanent repairs being started.
All exterior openings must be secured, including on the roof, doors, walls and floors. Holes in the roof must be secured with plywood and tarp and securely fastened with nails. All doors must be covered with thick plywood and reinforced with screws and hasps. Any windows that were removed should be stored within the building and then the open windows must be covered with plywood. The plywood that secures all opening should be new and fit tightly into the opening. All of the openings from doors to windows to roof holes must be secured according to specific standards.
Fencing the Property
Any home damaged by a disaster, such as a fire, flood or tornado, must be fenced around its perimeter. This protects others and you from liability should someone get hurt on the property. It also lessons the likelihood of vandalism.
A home must be secured and fenced in a specific way according to standards that determine how thick the plywood must be to the types of nails to be used. It’s not a job to do on your own. You should hire a reputable board-up company who will be able to do the work professionally and according to the determined standards. We have relationships with several such companies that we can recommend to you and would be happy to help you during this most stressful time.