Experiencing a fire in your home can be one of the worst nightmares of your entire life. If the fire has not completely destroyed the dwelling, it’s natural for homeowners to want to inspect the fire damage as soon as the blaze has been extinguished. While such inspections don’t always endanger the homeowner, they should always be conducted with great caution and by following certain safety guidelines. The last thing homeowners need is to add personal injury to the devastation already caused by the fire.

The most important safety guideline for inspecting fire damage is to first make sure the structure is safe to enter. The easiest way to do this is to check with your local fire marshal. If he doesn’t already know the details of your specific situation he can consult with the firefighters who responded to the scene and make a determination as to whether or not your house is safe. If the fire marshal gives you the green light you may proceed, but do so with caution. Cleaning up a property from a fire disaster often includes the services of a water damage restoration professional to extract excess water and secure the property.

When entering a home that has suffered from fire always wear protective clothing. Wear long pants and boots, long sleeve shirts, gloves, a helmet or hardhat if one is available, and a paper face mask. Never wear shorts, t-shirts, or sneakers into a fire damaged building regardless of how warm the temperature is.

Next, be careful to move slowly and deliberately, always paying attention to your next step. Even with fire marshal approval there may still be structural weak points in the home that pose a great danger. If electrical service to the house has been interrupted, the lack of lighting combined with soot on the windows may make the interior of the home very dark. Make sure you have flashlights with you to help you make your way safely around.

Finally, remember that fire damage usually is much more severe than can be recognized by the naked eye. Prepare yourself for the worst possible scenario so that there will be few surprises. At the end of the day, your inspection will serve only to satisfy your own curiosity. Construction and fire restoration professionals will be needed to fully assess the damage and plan for the repairs. Upon leaving a fire damaged dwelling be sure to lock the doors if possible, to prevent looters and others who might be tempted to intrude.

Updated: November 23, 2010 — 9:53 pm
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