Fire Damage: What to Do After the Dust Settles

Fire Damage: What to Do After the Dust Settles

Jul 10, 2018

After a fire has been properly extinguished and there is no more lingering smoke, what does a property owner do about all the ashes? Fire damage doesn’t have to mean the end of your business. Devise a rescue plan to pull you through the loss of revenue and productivity.

Before Fire Damage Occurs

  • Be proactive about protecting your investment. Act by incorporating off-site contingency plans that include:
  • A record of photos or videos of your business for insurance reimbursement after a loss
  • A regular computer backup of important files
  • An updated contact list with phone numbers and emails.
  • Backup and securely store accounting records
  • Current inventory lists
  • Use a restoration company to create a pre-loss agreement

Already suffered fire damage?

Leave everything the way the fire left it.

Do not enter the building without permission from the firefighters. Structural damage by fire can result in an unsafe condition. Also, you could interfere with your coverage if you remove or touch damaged items, or at least reduce the reimbursement amount. A commercial fire is nothing to mess with; it is a serious condition. Consult with a professional before making any hasty moves.

  • Turn off all utilities
  • Turn off electricity and water at the meter, and water at the valve
  • Contact your insurance provider immediately

They will get the claims process started by sending an adjuster out to assess the situation and discuss the matter with you. If space is leased or rented, you will also need to call the owner’s insurance agent.

After the “All-Clear,” Remove Necessary Items

Be sure to grab all permits, licenses, accounting records, inventory sheets, confidential employee documents, cash, checks, credit cards, insurance info, and everything of value. Stay clear of fire safes until they have sufficiently cooled down. If you don’t, it may explode, or the inner contents may ignite.

Notify Local Law Enforcement – and Everyone Else

It is important to have protection against looters and vandals after a fire. Notify vendors, customers, suppliers and employees about the situation. Also, contact your credit cards, utility companies, and the post office.

Call a Professional

Contact a local professional who handles 24/7 emergency board up and tarp over building services. This will help protect the premise from weather damage and intruders. You will also need a remediation assessment to acquire an estimate on a rebuild. This will help get things moving with the insurance claim.

Keep Extensive Records

Prepare a meticulous collection of receipts, expense records, notes on every phone call or discussion related to rebuilding. Before any work is started, get a few written estimates and consider them each carefully.


Contact your local Red Cross chapter.

Consider a Loss Assessor

If you are unhappy with the service you receive from your insurance provider and you believe you did not receive a fair settlement for the incurred damage, consider using a public adjuster or a loss assessor. A public adjuster does not work for your insurance company; this is a licensed state negotiator who will work on your behalf.

Don’t Expect a Quick Fix

The ravages of fire can be devastating, and it happens fast. The process of recovery will be long and involved. You won’t receive insurance coverage overnight, and it can be a nightmare to rebuild. In general, if the premises can be saved, you have two options of what can be done with a fire-damaged commercial building: invest in a rebuild or find a buyer who wants to fix up the property. American Property Buyers in Houston offers a third option of unloading the burden and selling. We are a full-service Houston-based real estate company that buys buildings in all conditions.