It’s so hard to handle the aftermath of a property fire. It’s even more difficult to deal with the chaos when it impacts your workplace, your employees and your financial security.
You hope it never happens, but you need to be prepared.
Knowing what to do after a business fire gets you and your workforce on track to a fast recovery.
10 Critical Steps to Recovering Your Business After a Fire
When you’re recovering from a commercial fire, you want to take control. These 10 steps can help you develop a solid business fire recovery plan. Knowing what to do before something happens makes it easier to deal with the worst.
1. Call the Insurance Company
Notify your insurance company immediately. Be ready for that first call with as much information as possible. Outline the extent of fire and water damages and your expected losses. Cover these important points too.
• Your insurer’s requirements for damage documentation
• Scheduling an adjuster to inspect the property
• Deadlines for proof of loss statements
• Possibility of written extensions and approvals
• Recommendations for a Quality Restoration Vendor
2. Disconnect All Utilities
A commercial fire affects utilities lines, wiring and plumbing. Turn off the gas, electricity and water coming into your building. If you have any doubts about safely shutting everything down, contact city services right away.
Be very cautious about restoring utilities after the all-clear. Have certified technicians inspect and confirm the integrity of connections before turning gas, power and water back on.
3. Assess Structural Safety
Fire-fighting efforts soak walls, floors and ceilings creating a dangerous environment. The intense heat of a commercial property fire damages a site’s roof, exterior walls and foundation. Bring in a certified fire damage professional to assess your building’s structural safety inside and out.
4. Secure the Property
Even a small fire at your business leaves the property vulnerable to intruders. Broken windows and doors provide easy entry for vandals. Someone passing by might slip inside to take a look and explore your fire-damaged building.
It all sets you up for further financial loss and serious liability. You’re responsible for preventing unauthorized entry. A commercial fire restoration contractor can secure the property by boarding up fire-damaged windows and doors.
5. Start the Recovery Process
Once the site is secure, restoration crews can start the cleanup and recovery process. Their initial work addresses potential hazards like damaged wiring and ruptured pipes. They also take care of unstable interior and exterior materials including drywall, ceilings, subflooring and window and door frames.
6. Begin Assessing Your Losses
Get the OK from on-site teams before beginning a room-by-room loss assessment. When you’re sure of your personal safety, inspect the entire building. Make note of all fire-damaged equipment, furnishings and inventory. Include as much information as possible about damages to fire protection and security systems.
This first-pass assessment helps you outline losses for the adjuster. You’ll want to accompany him or her during the post-fire insurance inspection to make sure no damages are overlooked.
7. Don’t Throw Away Anything
Don’t throw away fire-damaged business equipment. Don’t haul off water-damaged furniture or ruined inventory. Leave everything in place so that your adjuster can see the full extent of your post-fire losses. Check with the restoration company about their salvage services. Many fire-damaged items in a commercial setting can be recovered.
8. Don’t Assume It’s All a Loss
Experienced restoration professionals can often save business-related items after a fire. Special techniques can salvage everything from electronics to paper records. Talk with your restoration contractor about recovery possibilities especially for these important documents.
• Customer and vendor records
• Employee payroll records
• Accounting ledgers and checkbooks
• Tax-related paperwork
• Business licenses and permits
9. Document and Record Everything
Your final damage inventory should include lists, photos and videos. Use cloud storage to hold digital files related to all business losses due to the fire. This makes it easier to share important information.
Track the recovery process from beginning to end. Document contractor estimates and proposed work schedules. Make notes about communication with your insurance company including times, dates and names. Detailed records become valuable assets as you navigate complicated paperwork related to your fire damage claim.
10. Be Patient and Communicate
The aftermath of a business fire leaves you focused on recovery. Be patient with the process. Stay in close touch with people involved in your business. Restoration might take some time, so let everyone know what to expect.
A commercial fire impacts so many lives, but you’re in a position to establish a sense of confidence. Make it clear that you’re doing everything possible to get things back to normal. Your communication serves as an extension of good will built over the years with your employees, customers and vendors.
Partner With Restoration Professionals
Recovering from a business fire can seem overwhelming. You’re better prepared when you already have solid backup in place. Connect with an experienced restoration company that offers a full line of non-emergency services.
This gives you access to commercial cleaning, post-construction and remodel cleanup and site-specific projects. When you need fire-damage expertise, you’re covered with these services and more.
• Certified technicians use the latest technologies to eliminate smoke stains and odors.
• Every area of a fire-damaged commercial property is cleaned and restored.
• All work is thoroughly documented for your records and insurance processing.
• You have expert help navigating the fire-damage claims process.
By hiring a full-service restoration company, you bring in a trusted partner who can respond immediately and tackle fire damage at your business 24/7.
You Can Count On Chicago’s Best
If you ever have to deal with a fire at your business, our industry-certified fire recovery services are just a phone call away. We’re proud of our reputation as Chicago’s leading commercial fire restoration specialists. When you need the best in the city and suburbs, you can count on ServiceMaster Restoration by Zaba.