Recent Fire Damage Posts
Fire In Cambridge MA
Building with huge flames and thick black smoke
On July 20, 2018 there was a three alarm fire with heavy smoke and soot that took place in Cambridge, MA at 2:30pm. The fire made serval road closures for most of the afternoon in order to contain the fire. It took a total of 150 firefighters to put out this massive blaze.
When firefighters were on scene the front was still in tact but as more investigating went on firefighters discovered that there was a heavy fire that was started in the basement of the building in the back. It took many hours for firefighters to put out the fire and left the business and some of the businesses around it with almost nothing.
After the fire took place, the owner called SERVPRO Cambridge/Belmont (617-864-7378)
to asses the damage that had been done and begin restoration of the business. SERVPRO Cambridge/Belmont (617-864-7378) is available 24/7, seven days a week to answer their customers needs. When there is a tragedy that occurs we are the people to get business’ back on their feet “Like it never even happened.”
5 Different Sources of House Fires and How to Prevent A Fire in Your Home
Fire that started in a Wall
Wiring and Outlets
- Make sure all electrical cords are checked throughout your home for signs of fraying and make sure all frayed wires are replaced.
- Do not cover cords with item such as rugs or blankets.
- Be aware of the capacity that your home can handle in its electrical system.
- Make sure to understand the difference between surge protectors and power strips. Surge protectors help protect electronic devices.
- Make sure there is a fire extinguishers readily available and make sure one knows how to use it in case of emergencies.
- Keeping your stove clean is another way to prevent a house fire. Grease on a stove or in an oven can lead to a fire the next time it is used, if not cleaned properly.
- Installing a dryer not properly could lead to a house fire when it is used for the first time. Make sure to read the instructions thoroughly to prevent a fire from happening though the vent.
- Make sure your dryer is cleaned regularly
- After each load of laundry is done make sure the lint is taken out from the previous load.
Other Sources of Heating
- Space heaters are known for starting house fires when left on too long, or on when nobody is in your home.
- Make sure your space heater is far enough away from all furniture or anything else that can get too warm and catch on fire.
- If there in a chimney that is located in your house make sure it is inspected annually. Have a professional clean or repair your chimney as needed.
- Make sure to use wood only.
The 4 Steps to Cleaning Your Home After a Fire
- Step One: Emergency Contact
- SERVPRO of Cambridge/Belmont (617-864- 7378) offers a 24/7 emergency service number that can be contacted when a fire occurs in your home. This is a very important feature when trying to find a company to clean after something tragic like a fire or flood happens. Why do you need to start a fire damage restoration damage right away? You want to be able to prevent anymore damage from happening to your property.
- Step Two: Assessment
- The next step in the fire damage restoration is where the company will assess the extent of the damage that has happened to your property. This is important because it gives the company a plan of action and the company will then be able to give you and accurate quote for the cost. Most importantly, to make sure your home looks “like it never happened”.
- Step Three: Clean Up
- The main step, is where a SERVPRO of Cambridge/Belmont 617-864-7378 fire damage restoration service will being the clean up process of the damage. They will clean away smoke, dust, and soot from your surfaces and any underlying issues that come about. After a fire often you will find that your property looks dark, stained and charred. The first job your fire damage restoration company will do is clean up all the damage and get your property looking “like it never happened”. During this fire damage restoration process, SERVPRO of Cambridge/Belmont 617-864-7378 will also ensure to remove any odors that can linger after the smoke has been in the room. This might involve carpet cleaning and will often need to address adjacent rooms as well as those directly affected by fire damage.
- Step Four: Restore and Renovation
- After all is cleaned up next begins the next and final step, finally getting your property back to the way it was.
The most common causes of fire in the workplace
Commercial Building on fire
Most Common Causes of Fire in the Workplace
Over 25% of all fires are linked to a malfunction of either a piece of electrical equipment, wiring, or both. Electricity is a common source of ignition for major fires. One way to avoid problems with electrical fires is to establish an electrical safety program.
All employees should be thoroughly familiar with the safety procedures for their particular jobs. To maximize his or her own safety, an employee should always use tools and equipment properly. Extension cords must be inspected before use, and those found questionable, removed from service and properly tagged. Damage or inadequate maintenance can cause equipment to deteriorate, resulting in unsafe conditions.
Flammable and Combustible Materials
There are thousands of chemicals in use in the modern American workplace. One of the most prevalent dangers of these chemicals is their flammability or combustibility. Improper handling of flammable materials brings a great risk of fire. When a flammable liquid is spilled, vapors begin to form immediately. It is the vapors that will ignite, and which pose the greater danger.
Flammable liquid spill cleanup should begin immediately. Vapors will continue to build until the liquid is removed, and they can be ignited by a variety of sources in the average workplace. The best way to avoid fire caused by these materials is to follow all OSHA guidelines when dealing with flammables.
The most common reason for a sprinkler system failure is human error. Often times the water supply was turned off at the time of the fire. The success of fire prevention strategies depends primarily on pre-planning, preparation, equipment quality, and the readiness of personnel. Employees and loss prevention practitioners must be knowledgeable about the proper use of extinguishers. If the wrong extinguisher is used, a fire may become more serious.
Negligence is another common cause of fire in the workplace. It’s slightly different from fires caused by human error. Negligence occurs when an employee does not follow established procedures and knowingly undertakes an activity that is a potential fire hazard.
Fire caused by negligence can be the result of:
- Hot surfaces too close to heating equipment
- Open flame that’s not properly located or protected
- Not following smoking restrictions or careless disposal of butts, ashes, and matches
Good common sense, self awareness, and close adherence to policy are a great way to avoid fires caused by general negligence. Posting fire safety signs in common areas is another way to keep fire safety at top of mind.
The premise behind arson prevention, like other prevention programs, is to address the opportunity to commit the crime. Arsonists, like other criminals, typically prefer to start fires in locations that are secluded or hidden. Prevention programs often suggest improving the surveillance in these areas by lighting the area, removing visual obstructions to natural observation, and moving the targets such as dumpsters.
Prevent the Common Causes of Fire in the Workplace
Fire prevention should be considered part of everyone’s job. Employees must help to keep the work area clutter-free and safe from fire hazards. Also, make sure extreme care is taken when working with chemicals such as flammable solvents, gasoline, gases, and fuels. Of course, the best prevention for fire is education and proper training.
If your company, please call SERVPRO of Cambridge/Belmont (617) 864-7378 to assist you with the cleanup.
Causes & prevention of Commercial Fires
Commercial Building after the fire
Most Common Causes of Commercial Building Fires
- Cooking Fires
29.3% of nonresidential fires from 2013 were cooking related. In fact, 1 in 4 office building fires were related to cooking equipment. These fires tend to account for less damage, but are easily preventable with fire protection systems such as alarms and fire extinguishers.
The second most common cause of nonresidential fires was intentionally started. This accounts for almost 10% of fires, and tends to cause the most damage. Intentional fires also result in more civilian injuries and deaths. Unlike cooking and heating fires, it's most common for intentional fires to be started between 3pm and midnight.
A few common locations in your building to be aware of include:
- Trash bins
- Open areas like a lawn or field
- Careless Acts and Human Error
9.2% of commercial fires were unintentional results of careless acts. This is somewhat of an 'other' category. A few examples of careless acts that result in fires:
- Accidentally leaving space heaters or other heat producing equipment on
- Carelessly discarded cigarette butts igniting fires
- Plugging too many things into the same extension cord
- Heating Fires
Heating fires account for 9% of all nonresidential building fires. Central heating units, fireplaces, water heaters, and other heating appliances and systems should be regularly inspected to prevent fires. It's important to move any flammable materials and furniture away from heat sources, especially in the winter months when the heat is turned on.
How to Prevent a Nonresidential Fire
Run through the items below to see how protected your business is from a fire emergency. There might be something you're missing that could save you thousands of dollars in fire damage and loss.
Fire Suppression and Protection System in Place
- Fire extinguishers - The top cause of commercial building fires is cooking fires, and thankfully, most of these fires are small and contained. A fire extinguisher placed near the kitchen area can give employees the power to stop a small cooking fire from spreading. Make sure your employees are trained in using a few extinguishers. Read this if you're unsure whether or not your fire extinguishers are still in working condition.
- Fire alarms - This may sound obvious, but fire alarms are easily overlooked or left with dead batteries because they're not properly maintained. Not only is a fire alarm system required, but it can save lives and property from damage.
- Commercial fire sprinkler system - A sprinkler system can squelch a potentially deadly fire. The NFPA has no record of a fire killing more than 2 people in a building that was completely sprinkled. Having only 1 or 2 fire sprinkler heads can contain the majority of fires.
Testing and Maintenance
So you have all of the necessary fire protection systems in place. But how well maintained and up-to-date are they? Do you have expired fire extinguishers? Are you following the legal state requirements for getting these systems tested regularly? Make sure you check the local fire code to see what is required of businesses, and set up regular inspections and maintenance.
Install a Commercial Alarm System
No one likes to think that there are people who would intentionally start a fire on their property. Unfortunately, this is a scenario that you need to be prepared for. Invest in a security alarm system that will detect any suspicious activity in the evening hours when the building is most at risk. Keeping the area well-lit at night, or installing motion sensor lights outside, can deter criminal activity.
If you do have a fire please call SERVPRO of Cambridge/Belmont (617) 864-7378
Smoke Alarms, when to replace
Hard wired smoke detector
Your detectors are overdue for replacement, according to the National Fire Protection Association, which recommends that you replace detectors when they’re 10 years old. Top-rated security system experts we interviewed say that, over time, dust gathers inside smoke detectors, desensitizing the sensors. And even if a detector hasn’t reached the 10-year mark, replace it if it chirps after you’ve replaced the battery or if the alarm doesn’t sound when you perform the recommended monthly testing. Experts recommend replacing all connected detectors at the same time, even if some are working. Smoke detectors are an essential part of a fire-prevention strategy, so you should replace yours as soon as possible. In a 2014 report, the NFPA said three of every five home-fire deaths resulted from fires in homes with no smoke alarms or with none that worked.
You can replace hard-wired detectors yourself, if you can reach them and if you have sufficient skill to replace a light fixture. (Be sure to first turn off electricity at the breaker box.) Otherwise, you can hire an electrician or an alarm service company to do the job. The cost can vary widely, depending on where you live and on the type and number of units to be replaced, where they’re placed and the condition of the wires. Service providers we contacted charge a wide range of prices, from $35 to $40 per detector, plus a $50 for service charge, to $135 to $155 per detector.
Meanwhile, here are some NFPA safety tips:
- Install smoke alarms inside and outside each bedroom and sleeping area. Install alarms on every level of the home, including the basement. (Large homes may need extra smoke alarms.)
- Interconnected smoke alarms – whether hardwired or wireless – are best because when one is activated, they all sound.
- Test all smoke alarms at least once a month. Simply press the test button to be sure the alarm works.
- Ionization smoke alarms are quicker to warn of flaming fires. Photoelectric alarms are quicker to warn of smoldering fires. It’s best to use some of both types.
- A smoke alarm should be on the ceiling or high on a wall. Install wall-mounted alarms should no more than 12 inches from the ceiling to the top of the alarm.
- Don’t install smoke alarms near windows, doors, or ducts where drafts might interfere with their operation. To reduce false alarms, keep alarms at least 10 feet from a stove.
- Make sure everyone in your home knows how to respond if they hear a smoke alarm.
- Follow manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning.
If your smoke alarm goes off, immediately leave your home, follow your emergency plan & call SERVPRO of Cambridge/Belmont (617) 864-7378 to assist you assist you with the smoke cleanup.
The top ten causes of household fires.
Fires can be prevented if you use common sense.
A house can easily catch fire from the misuse of appliances to smoking in bedrooms. You can take measures to avoid fire in your home and ensure the safety of your family. Below are some of the most common causes of household fires, and some tips to take precautions.
- Cooking Equipment
Pots and pans can overheat and cause a fire very easily if the person cooking gets distracted and leaves cooking unattended. Always stay in the room, or ask someone to watch your food, when cooking on hotplates.
Keep portable heaters at least 5’ away from anything that could easily catch fire such as furniture, curtains, laundry, clothes and even you. If you have a furnace, get it inspected once a year to make sure it is working to safety standards.
- Smoking in bedrooms
Bedrooms are best to be kept off limits for smoking. A cigarette that is not put out properly can cause a flame, as the butt may stay alit for a few hours. It could burst into flames if it came into contact with flammable materials, such as furniture. Did you know that fires started in the bedroom or lounge make up 73% of all house fire fatalities?
- Electrical Equipment
An electrical appliance, such as a toaster can start a fire if it is faulty or has a frayed cord. A power point that is overloaded with double adapter plugs can cause a fire from an overuse of electricity. A power point extension cord can also be a fire hazard if not used appropriately. Double check the appliances and power points in your home.
Candles look and smell pretty, but if left unattended they can cause a room to easily burst into flames. Keep candles away from any obviously flammable items such as books and tissue boxes. Always blow a candle out before leaving a room. Did you know that in Perth last year 34 house fires started as a result of candles?²
- Curious Children
Kids can cause a fire out of curiosity, to see what would happen if they set fire to an object. Keep any matches or lighters out of reach of children, to avoid any curiosity turned disaster. Install a smoke alarm in your child’s room and practice a home escape plan with your children and family in case there was a fire. Inform your kids the importance of knowing their address knowing their address and if they needed to, call 911.
- Faulty Wiring
Homes with inadequate wiring can cause fires from electrical hazards. Some signs to see if you’ve bad wiring are: 1) Lights dim if you use another appliance; 2) For an appliance to work, you have to disconnect another; 3) Fuses blow or trip the circuit frequently. Have a licensed electrician come and inspect your house, or contact your landlord if you have any of the above occurrences.
Barbeques are great for an outdoor meal, but should always be used away from the home, tablecloths or any plants and tree branches. Keep BBQs regularly maintained and cleaned with soapy water and clean any removable parts. Check the gas bottle for any leaks before you use it each time.
- Flammable Liquids
If you have any flammable liquids in the home or garage such as petrol, kerosene or ethylated spirits, keep them away from heat sources and check the label before storing. Be careful when pouring these liquids.
Lamp shades and light fittings can build up heat if they are very close to light globes. Check around the house to make sure. Lamp bases can become a hazard if they are able to be knocked over easily, and so should be removed if they are. Check that down lights are insulated from wood paneling or ceiling timbers.
The above tips are a good guide to avoiding a fire in your home. If you do have a fire and need assistance with the cleanup, please call SERVPRO of Cambridge/Belmont (617) 864-7378
Deodorizing contents after a fire
SERVPRO constructed an ozone chamber to deodorize contents.
The contents of a house that have had a fire usually need to be deodorized to eliminate lingering odors. SERVPRO of Cambridge/Belmont uses an ozone machine to eliminate these odors. Ozone, (O3), sometimes called "activated oxygen", contains three atoms of oxygen rather than the two atoms we normally breathe. Ozone is the second most powerful sterilizer in the world and can be used to destroy bacteria, viruses and odors. Interestingly ozone occurs quite readily in nature, most often as a result of lightning strikes that occur during thunderstorms. In fact the "fresh, clean, spring rain" smells that we notice after a storm most often results from nature's creation of ozone. However, we are probably most familiar with ozone from reading about the "ozone layer" that circles the planet above the earth's atmosphere. Here ozone is created by the sun's ultra-violet rays. This serves to protect us from the ultra-violet radiation.
How does ozone work?
The third oxygen atom of ozone makes it extremely reactive. This atom readily attaches itself to other odor molecules. When contaminants such as odors, bacteria or viruses make contact with ozone, their chemical structure is changed to less odorous compounds. As more ozone attacks the remaining compounds, the odor is eventually destroyed. This process is called oxidation. Ozone essentially reverts back to oxygen after it is used. This makes it a very environmentally friendly oxidant.
If your home or business has had a fire, please call SERVPRO of Cambridge/Belmont (617) 864-7378 to assist you.
Lightning rods can protect your house from lightning damage.
Lightning rods on a dwelling
Lightning rods (and the accompanying protection system) are designed to protect a house or building from a direct lightning strike and, in particular, a lightning-initiated fire. Note that lightning protection systems do not prevent lightning from striking the structure, but rather intercept a lightning strike, provide a conductive path for the harmful electrical discharge to follow (the appropriate UL-listed copper or aluminum cable), and disperse the energy safely into the ground (grounding network). It's very important that these components be properly connected (bonded) to minimize the chances for any sparks or side flashes. While lightning rods help protect a structure from a direct lightning strike, a complete lightning protection system is needed to help prevent harmful electrical surges and possible fires caused by lightning entering a structure via wires and pipes. A complete system also includes electrical surge protection devices for incoming power, data, and communication lines; and surge protection devices for vulnerable appliances. Lightning protection may also be needed for gas piping. Any lightning protection system should follow the national safety standards and requirements of the Lightning Protection Institute, National Fire Protection Association, and Underwriters Laboratories. If lightning causes a fire in your house, please call SERVPRO of Cambridge/Belmont (617) 864-7378 to assist you.
Fire safety and prevention tips
A smoke alarm should be placed on every floor
BEFORE A FIRE
The following are things you can do to protect yourself, your family, and your property in the event of a
SMOKE ALARMS AND CARBON MONOXIDE DETECTORS
- Install smoke alarms. Properly working smoke alarms decrease your chances of dying in a fire by half.
- Place smoke alarms on every level of your residence, including the basement.
- Install a working carbon monoxide detector in the common area of the bedrooms.
- Test and clean smoke alarms once a month and replace batteries at least once a year. Replace smoke alarms once every 10 years.
- Never leave cooking unattended.
- Always wear short or tight-fitting sleeves when you cook.
- Keep towels, pot holders and curtains away from flames
- Never use the range or oven to heat your home.
ESCAPING THE FIRE
- Have an escape plan. Review escape routes with your family.
- Make sure windows are not nailed or painted shut.
- Teach family members to stay low to the floor, where the air is safer, when escaping from a fire.
- In high-rise, never lock fire exits or doorways, halls or stairways. Never prop stairway or other fire doors open.
- Place space heaters at least three feet away from flammable/combustible materials.
- Use only the type of fuel designated for your space heater.
MATCHES/LIGHTERS AND SMOKING
- Keep matches/lighters away from children.
- Never smoke in bed or when drowsy or medicated.
- If you must smoke, do it responsibly.
- Inspect extension cords for frayed or exposed wires or loose plugs
- Make sure outlets have cover plates and no exposed wiring.
- Make sure wiring does not run under rugs, over nails, or across high traffic areas.
- Do not overload extension cords or outlets.
ASK THE FIRE DEPARTMENT TO INSPECT YOUR HOME FOR FIRE SAFETY AND
DURING A FIRE
If your clothes catch on fire, you should:
- Stop, drop, and roll until the fire is extinguished.
DO NOT PANIC
- Do not assume someone else already called the fire department get out of the house then call the Fire Department.
ESCAPE A FIRE
- Check closed doors with the back of your hand to feel for heat before you open them.
- If the door is hot do not open it. Find a second way out, such as a window. If you cannot escape through a window, hang a white sheet outside the window to alert firefighters to your presence.
- Stuff the cracks around the door with towels, rags, bedding or tape and cover vents to keep smoke out.
- If there is a phone in the room where you are trapped, call the fire department again and tell them exactly where you are.
- If the door is cold slowly open it and ensure that fire and/or smoke is not blocking your escape
Route. If your escape route is blocked, shut the door and use another escape route.
- If clear, leave immediately and close the door behind you. Be prepared to crawl.
AFTER A FIRE
- Once you are out of the building, STAY OUT! Do not go back inside for any reason.
- If you are with a burn victim or are a burn victim yourself call 911, cool and cover your burns until emergency units arrive.
- If you are a tenant contact the landlord.
- Tell the fire department if you know of anyone trapped in the building.
- Only enter when the fire department tells you it is safe to do so.
Puffbacks cause soot damage
Heavy soot caused by a puffback
If your home has an oil burning furnace, there are several dangers to be aware of. Any furnace can experience a puff back, while puff backs are more common with oil systems, a furnace puff back can also occur with forced air, gas and hot water heating systems. A puff back in a furnace is a volatile explosion that occurs inside your furnace. The result of this explosion is fire and smoke being spewed out from your furnace. This fire, smoke and soot will damage your homes building materials and contents. This explosion will not be lethal, but can cause thousands of dollars in costly repairs and damage restoration, and can also cause health problems for you and your family. The explosions are caused by a buildup of vapor inside your furnace. This build up can occur with furnaces which have not been maintained properly. Parts sometimes need to be replaced, and bi yearly cleaning of your furnace and heating system will help prevent puff backs. Conducting a yearly exam of your heating system or having a professional check your heating system yearly will often times fully prevent a puff back from ever occurring.
If you have experience a puff back avoids doing the following: Try to clean or wash away soot residue yourself. This soot and smoke residue needs special cleaning methods, as it spreads easily. Soot stains can also set very quickly, making soot damage especially trick to clean if you should do it wrong. Soot is black carbon, and black carbon will stain extremely quickly when mixed with water and common household liquid cleaners. Should you attempt to remove the soot yourself and end up staining something with soot in your home, a professional cleaner may be required to remove the stain. Should you have soot damage, you should leave it to a professional to clean. SERVPRO professionals trained in soot damage have special cleaners and cleaning methods to use to remove your soot and soot damage. Use furniture or walk on carpeting affected by the fire or puff back. Do not use furniture that has been exposed to heat, soot or smoke. You can cause further damage to your furniture, until it is professionally cleaned and restored. Do not turn on any electronics such as computer, stereo's, and TV's until you have had them checked for soot damaged. Computers can be especially vulnerable and ruined as soon as they are turned on if soot has made its way inside them. This soot also contains a corrosive element, which will damage home's building materials, and contents such as your electronics, furniture, clothing and more. Not only can this soot damage your property, it can also affect the health of your loved ones by causing respiratory problems. This soot will often have a very terrible odor that will swiftly travel throughout the home, and will need to be cleaned and deodorized in order to remove the offensive odor from your home. If the soot and smoke travels through your home's duct work, it will need to be cleaned and deodorized as well. You also need to have a professional check your furnace following a puff back, to avoid further incidents. You may have a faulty part or an oil burner that may need replacing. If the problem is ignored, it can cause repeated and long lasting effects to your home. Should you have experienced a furnace puff back, you should SERVPRO of Cambridge/Belmont (617) 864-7378 to help with the clean up.
Recent fire in Belmont
City of cambridge Smoke and Soot Cleanup
Smoke and soot is very invasive and can penetrate various cavities within your home, causing hidden damage and odor. Our smoke damage expertise and experience allows us to inspect and accurately assess the extent of the damage to develop a comprehensive plan of action.
Smoke and soot facts:
- Hot smoke migrates to cooler areas and upper levels of a structure.
- Smoke flows around plumbing systems, seeping through the holes used by pipes to go from floor to floor.
- The type of smoke may greatly affect the restoration process.
Different Types of Smoke
There are two different types of smoke–wet and dry. As a result, there are different types of soot residue after a fire. Before restoration begins, SERVPRO of Cambridge/Belmont will test the soot to determine which type of smoke damage occurred. The cleaning procedures will then be based on the information identified during pretesting. Here is some additional information:
Wet Smoke – Plastic and Rubber
- Low heat, smoldering, pungent odor, sticky, smeary. Smoke webs are more difficult to clean.
Dry Smoke – Paper and Wood
- Fast burning, high temperatures, heat rises therefore smoke rises.
Protein Fire Residue – Produced by evaporation of material rather than from a fire
- Virtually invisible, discolors paints and varnishes, extreme pungent odor.
Our Fire Damage Restoration Services
Since each smoke and fire damage situation is a little different, each one requires a unique solution tailored for the specific conditions. We have the equipment, expertise, and experience to restore your fire and smoke damage. We will also treat your family with empathy and respect and your property with care.
Have Questions about Fire, Smoke, or Soot Damage?
Call Us Today – (617) 864-7378