Recovering from a fire can be a physically and
mentally draining process.
The United States Fire Administration and the
Nederland Fire-Rescue Services has gathered the following information to
assist you in this time of need. Action on some of the suggestions
will need to be taken immediately. Some actions may be needed in
the future while others will be on-going. The purpose of this information
is to give you the assistance needed to help you as you begin rebuilding
THE FIRST 24 HOURS
SECURING YOURSELF AND THE SITE
Contact your your local disaster relief service,
such as the American Red Cross or the Salvation Army, to help with your
immediate needs, such as: temporary housing, food, medicine, eyeglasses,
clothing, and other essential items. Also contact your insurance
Do not enter the damaged site. Fires can rekindle from hidden, smoldering remains.
Normally, the Fire Department will see that utilities
(water, electricity, and natural gas) are either safe to use or are disconnected
before they leave the site. Do not attempt to turn on utilities yourself.
Be watchful for structural damage caused by the
fire. Roofs and floors may be damaged and subject to collapse.
Food, beverages and medicine exposed to heat, smoke, soot, and water should not be consumed.
LEAVING YOUR HOME
Contact your local Police Department to let them
know the site will be unoccupied.
In some cases it may be necessary to board up
openings to discourage trespassers.
Beginning immediately, save receipts for any money
you spend. These receipts are important in showing the insurance
company what money you have spent related to your fire loss and also for
verifying losses claimed on your income tax.
If safe to do so, try to locate the following
items: identification, such as driver's license and Social Security
cards, insurance information, medication information, eyeglasses, hearing
aids, and other prosthetic devices, valuables, such as credit cards, bank
books, and cash and jewelry.
There are many people/entities that should be
notified of your relocation, including: your insurance agent/company,
your mortgage company (also inform them of the fire), your family and friends,
your employer, your child's school, your post office, delivery services,
fire and police departments, and your utility companies.
Do not throw away any damaged goods until after
an inventory is made. All damages are taken into consideration in
developing your insurance claim.
If you are considering contracting for inventory
or repair services discuss your plans with your insurance agent/company
IF YOU ARE INSURED
Give notice of the loss to the insurance company
or the insurer's agent/company.
Ask the insurance company what to do about the
immediate needs of the dwelling, such as covering doors, windows, and other
exposed areas, and pumping out water.
Ask your insurance agent/company what actions
are required of you. Some policy holders may be required to make
an inventory of damaged personal property showing in detail the quantity,
description, and how much you paid for the items.
IF YOU ARE NOT INSURED
Your recovery from a fire loss may be based upon
your own resources and help from your community. Private organizations
that may be sources of aid or information: American Red Cross, Salvation
Army, religious organizations, department of social services, civic organizations,
state or municipal emergency services office, and non-profit crisis counseling
VALUING YOUR PROPERTY
You will encounter different viewpoints on the
value of your property in adjusting your fire loss or in claiming a casualty
loss on your federal income tax. Knowing the following terms will
help your understand the process used to determine the value of your fire
Your personal valuation: Your
personal loss of goods through fire may be difficult to measure.
These personal items have SENTIMENTAL VALUE to you; however, it is objective
measures of value that you, the insurer, and the Internal Revenue Service
will use as a common ground for discussion. Some of these objective
measurers are discussed below:
Cost when purchased: This
is an important element in establishing an item's final value. Receipts
will help verify the cost price.
Fair market value before the fire: This
concept ia also expressed as ACTUAL CASH VALUE. This is what your
could have received for the item if you had sold it the day before the
fire. The price would reflect its cost at purchase minus the wear
it had sustained since purchase. DEPRECIATION is the formal term
used to express the amount of value an item losses over a period of time.
Value after the fire: This
is sometimes called the item's salvage value.
There are companies that specialize in the restoration
of fire damaged structures. Whether you or your insurer employs this
type of service, be clear of who will pay. Be sure to request an
estimate of cost for the work. Before any company is hired check
their references. These companies provide a range of services that
may include some or all of the following:
securing the site against further damage, estimating
structural damage, repairing structural damage, estimating the cost to
repair or renew items of personal property, packing, transportation, and
storage of household items, securing appropriate cleaning or repair subcontractors,
and storing repaired items until needed.
REPLACEMENT OF VALUABLE DOCUMENTS AND RECORDS
Here's a check list of documents you will need to replace if they have
been destroyed, and who to contact for information on the replacement process.
WHO TO CONTACT
Department of Public Safety
Bank Books (checking, savings, etc.)
Your bank, as soon as possible
Your insurance agent
Military discharge papers
Department of Veterans Affairs
Department of State
Birth, death, and marriage records
City or County
Circuit court where decree was issued
Social Security or Medicare cards
Local Social Security office
The issuing companies, as soon as possible
Titles to deeds
Stocks and bonds
Issuing company or your broker
Income tax records
U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service
Prepaid burial contract
Animal registration papers
Professional fire and water damage restoration
businesses may be the best source of cleaning and restoring your personal
belongings. Companies offering this service can be located in the
A word of caution before you begin: test
garments before using any treatment, and follow the manufacturer's instructions.
Several of the cleaning mixtures described in this section contain the
substance Tri-sodium Phosphate. This substance can be purchased under
the generic name TSP. Tri-sodium Phosphate is a caustic substance
used commonly as a cleaning agent. It should be used with care and
stored out of the reach of children and pets. Wear rubber gloves
when using if you have sensitive skin. Read the label for further
Smoke odor and soot can sometimes be washed from
clothing. The following formula may work for clothing that can be
4 to 6 tbsp. Tri-sodium Phosphate
1 cup household cleaner or chlorine bleach
1 gallon warm water
Mix well, add clothes, rinse with clear water.
An effective way to remove mildew from clothing
is to wash the fresh stain with soap and warm water, rinse, and then dry
in the 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.
Don't use appliances that have been exposed to
water or steam 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 of your gas or power
during the fire, call the electric or gas company to restore these services
- do not try to do it yourself.
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 the cans have bulged or rusted. Do not refreeze frozen
food that has thawed.
To remove odor from you 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. Baking soda
in an open container or a piece of charcoal can also be placed in the refrigerator
or freezer to absorb odor.
RUGS AND CARPETS
Rugs and carpets should be allowed to dry thoroughly.
Throw rugs 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 cause the rug to rot. For information
on cleaning and preserving carpets, call your carpet dealer or installer
or a qualified carpet cleaning professional.
LEATHER AND BOOKS
Wipe leather goods with a damp cloth, then a dry
cloth. Stuff purses and shoes with newspaper 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.
Rinse leather and suede jackets in cold water and dry away from heat and
Wet books must be taken care of as soon as possible.
The best method to save wet books is to freeze them in a vacuum freezer.
This special freezer will remove the moisture without damaging the pages.
If there will be a delay in locating such a freezer,
then place them in a normal freezer until a vacuum freezer can be located.
A local library can be a good resource.
LOCKS AND HINGES
Locks (especially iron locks) should be taken
apart and wiped with oil. If locks cannot be removed, squirt machine
oil through a bolt opening or keyhole, and work the knob to distribute
the oil. Hinges should also be thoroughly cleaned and oiled.
WALLS, FLOORS AND FURNITURE
To remove soot and smoke from walls, furniture
and floors, use a mild soap or detergent or mix together the following
4 to 6 tbsp. Tri-Sodium Phosphate
1 cup household cleaner or chlorine bleach
1 gallon warm water
Wear rubber gloves when cleaning with this solution.
Be sure to rinse your walls and furniture with warm water and dry thoroughly
after washing them with this solution.
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 walls and ceilings are
Your wallpaper can also be repaired. Use
a commercial paste to re-paste a loose edge or section. Contact your
wallpaper dealer or installer for information on wallpaper cleaners.
Washable wallpaper can be cleansed like any ordinary wall, but care must
be taken to to soak the paper. Work from bottom to top to prevent
Do not dry your furniture in the sun. The
wood will warp and twist out of shape. Clear off mud and dirt.
Remove drawers. Let them dry thoroughly so there will be no sticking
when you replace them. Scrub wood furniture or fixtures with a stiff
brush and a cleaning solution. Wet wood can decay and mold, so dry
thoroughly. Open doors and windows for good ventilation. Turn
on your furnace or air conditioner, if necessary. If mold forms,
wipe the wood with a cloth soaked in a mixture of borax dissolved in hot
To remove white spots or film, rub the wood surface
with a cloth soaked in a solution of 1/2 cup household ammonia and 1/2
cup water. Then wipe the surface dry and polish with wax or rub the
surface with a cloth soaked in a solution of 1/2 cup turpentine and 1/2
cup linseed oil. Be careful - turpentine is combustible.
You can also rub the wood surface with a fine
grade steel wool pad dripped in liquid polishing wax, clean the area with
a soft cloth and then buff.
Handle burned money as little as possible.
Attempt to encase each bill or portion of a bill in plastic wrap for preservation.
If money is only half-burned or less (if half or more is still intact),
you can take the remainder to your regional Federal Reserve Bank for replacement.
Ask your bank for the nearest one. Or you can mail the burned or torn money
by "registered mail, return receipt requested" to:
Department of the Treasury
Bureau of Engraving and Printing
Office of Currency Standards
P.O. Box 37048
Washington, DC 20013
Mutilated or melted coins can be taken to your
regional Federal Reserve Bank or mailed by "registered mail, return receipt
P.O. Box 400
Philadelphia, PA 19105
If your U.S. Savings Bonds have been destroyed
or mutilated, you must obtain Department of Treasury Form PD F 1048 (I)
from your bank or www.ustreas.gov and mail to:
Department of the Treasury
Bureau of Public Debt
Savings Bonds Operations
P.O. Box 1328
Parkersburg, WV 26106-1328
Check with an accountant, tax consultant or the
Internal Revenue Service (IRS) about special benefits for people with limited
financial needs after a fire loss.
Important numbers you may need during recovery
Animal Control: 723-1516
Water leaks: 723-1541
After 3:30 PM: 723-1540
Garbage pickup: 723-1541 or 723-1542
City Secretary (Records): 723-1505
Building Official: 723-1508
Utility Billing: 723-1513
Library Office: 722-1255
(To report destroyed books, etc.)
Other important numbers:
American Red Cross-Jefferson County: 832-1644
Salvation Army-Beaumont: 896-2361
Salvation Army-Port Arthur: 983-2229
Southwestern Bell Residental Customer: 1-800-246-8464
Southwestern Bell Business Customer: 1-800-286-8313
Time Warner Cable: 727-1515
Texas Gas Service: 1-800-959-5325
Entex Gas: 866-1011
Poison Control Center-Galveston: 1-800-764-7661
EMERGENCY AND NON-EMERGENCY NUMBERS
Please print and fill this form in with your
local phone numbers and keep copies at locations other than your home.
Medical policy number:____________________
Home policy number:______________________
Auto policy number:_______________________
Bank number(s) :___________________________
Personal Doctor number(s) :____________________