Recovering from a fire
Last updated: 21/01/2013
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Recovering from a domestic fire can be a time-consuming
The following information should help to ease the burden
and ensure you are back in your home as soon as
The clean up
Recovering from a fire may take a long time and many of the
things you have to do will be new to you.
If you are not insured, your recovery from a fire loss most
likely will be dependent upon your own resources.
Private organisations that can help include the British Red
Cross and the Salvation
Army. You could also talk with your church or synagogue. Local
civic groups such as the Lions or Rotary Clubs may be able to
If your electricity, gas or water supply has been damaged by the
fire, you should contact your supplier to arrange re-connection. Do
not attempt to re-connect or turn on the supply yourself.
Fire Victim Support
The British Red Cross offer a Fire Victim Support service designed
to meet the needs of people who have suffered damage to their home
following a fire, flood or similar incident. It's a free service
delivered by specially trained volunteers who work closely with the
local Fire & Rescue Service.
Replacement of Valuable Documents and Records
Contact the following:
- Driver's license - DVLA
- Bank books - contact your bank, as soon as
- Insurance policies - contact your insurance
- Passports - Identity and Passport
- Birth, death, marriage certificates
- General Register
- Divorce papers - contact the Court where the
decree was issued
- Social Security - Department for Work &
- Credit Cards - contact the issuing companies,
as soon as possible
- Titles or deeds - contact the records
department of city or county in which the property is located
- Stocks and bonds - contact the issuing company
or your broker
- Wills - contact your solicitor
- Medical records - contact your doctor
- Warranties - contact the issuing company
- Income tax records - HM Revenue and
Customs or your accountant
- Vehicle registration - DVLA
Smoke odour and soot sometimes can be washed from clothing. The
following formula will often work for
clothing that can be bleached:
4-6 tbsp. of Tri-Sodium Phosphate
l cup household chlorine bleach
l gallon warm water
Mix well, add clothes, rinse with clear water and dry well.
Be aware that Tri-Sodium Phosphate is a caustic substance used
as a cleaning agent. It should be used with care and stored out of
reach of children and pets. Wear rubber gloves when using it. Read
the label carefully. To remove mildew, wash the fresh stain with
soap and warm water. Then rinse and dry in sun. If the stain has
not disappeared, use lemon juice and salt, or a diluted solution of
household chlorine bleach.
Your pots, pans,
flatware, etc., should be washed with soapy water, rinsed and then
polished with a fine-powdered cleaner. You can polish copper and
brass with special polish, salt sprinkled on a piece of lemon or
salt sprinkled on a cloth saturated with vinegar.
Appliances that have been exposed to water or steam should not be
used until you have a service representative check them. This is
especially true of electrical appliances. In addition, steam can
remove the lubricant from some moving parts. If the fire department
turned off your gas or power during the fire, call the electric or
gas company to restore these services - Do not try to do it
Wash your canned goods in detergent and water. Do the same for food
in jars. If labels come off, be sure you mark the contents on the
can or jar with a grease pencil. Do not use canned goods when cans
have bulged or are dented or rusted.
If your home freezer has stopped running, you still can save the
frozen food. Keep the freezer closed. Your freezer has enough
insulation to keep food frozen for at least one day - perhaps for
as many as two or three days. Move your food to a neighbour's
freezer or a rented locker. Wrap the frozen food in newspapers and
blankets or use insulated boxes. Do not re-freeze food that has
To remove odour from your refrigerator or freezer, wash the
inside with a solution of baking soda and water, or use one cup of
vinegar or household ammonia to one gallon of water. Some baking
soda in an open container, or a piece of charcoal can be placed in
the refrigerator or freezer to absorb odour.
Flooring and Rugs
When water gets underneath linoleum, it can cause odours and warp
the wood floor. If this happens, remove the entire sheet. If the
linoleum is brittle, a heat lamp will soften it so it can be rolled
up without breaking. If carefully removed, it can be re-cemented
after the floor has completely dried. Small blisters in linoleum
can be punctured with a nail and re-cemented if you are careful.
Dilute regular linoleum paste thin enough to go through a hand
syringe and shoot adhesive through the nail hole. Weigh down the
linoleum with bricks or boards. It usually is possible to cement
loose tiles of any type. Wait until the floor is completely dry
Rugs and carpets also should be allowed to dry thoroughly. Throw
rugs then can be cleaned by beating, sweeping or vacuuming, and
then shampooing. Rugs should be dried as quickly as possible. Lay
them flat, and expose them to a circulation of warm, dry air. A fan
turned on the rugs will speed drying. Make sure the rugs are
thoroughly dry. Even though the surface seems dry, moisture
remaining at the base of the tufts can quickly rot a rug. For
information on cleaning and preserving carpets, call your carpet
dealer or installer or qualified carpet cleaning professional.
Mattresses and Pillows
Reconditioning an innerspring mattress at home is very difficult,
if not impossible. Your mattress may be able to be renovated by a
company that builds or repairs mattresses. If you must use your
mattress temporarily, put it out into the sun to dry. Then cover it
with rubber or plastic sheeting. It is almost impossible to get
smoke odour out of pillows. The feathers and foam retain the
Leather and Books
Wipe leather goods with a damp cloth, then a dry cloth. Stuff
purses and shoes with newspapers to retain shape. Leave suitcases
open. Leather goods should be dried away from heat and 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 weather and dry away from heat and sun.
Wet books must be taken care of as soon as possible. The best
methods to save wet books is to freeze them in a vacuum freezer.
This special freezer will remove the moisture without damaging the
If there will be a delay in locating such a freezer, place them
in a normal freezer until a vacuum freezer can be located.
Locks and Hinges
Locks (especially iron locks) should be taken apart, wiped with
kerosene and oiled. If locks cannot be removed, squirt machine oil
through a bolt opening or keyhole, and work the knob to distribute
the oil. Hinges also should be thoroughly cleaned and oiled.
Walls and Furniture
To remove soot and smoke from walls, furniture and floors, mix
- 4 to 6 tbsp. Tri-Sodium Phosphate
- 1 cup household chloride bleach
- 1 gallon warm water
Wear rubber gloves when cleaning. After washing the article,
rinse with clear warm water and dry thoroughly.
Walls may be washed down while wet. Use a mild soap or
detergent. Wash a small area at one time, working from the floor
up. Then rinse the wall with clear water immediately. Ceilings
should be washed last. Do not repaint until the walls and ceilings
are completely dry.
Wallpaper also can be repaired. Use a commercial paste to
repaste loose edges or sections. Contact your wallpaper dealer or
installer for information on wallpaper cleaners. Washable wallpaper
can be washed like an ordinary wall, but care must be taken not to
soak the paper. Work from bottom to top to prevent streaking.
Cornwall Fire & Rescue