After a Fire
What to do After a Fire
This information has been developed as a resource tool to assist you after the fire is out. It is now up to you to repair the fire damage and replace damaged items. We hope that the tips included in this pamphlet will help.
The North Cowichan Fire Department is concerned with your loss. If we can provide any additional assistance, please call the Local Assistant Fire Commissioner at 250-746-3100.
You might ask why we break windows and doors or cut holes in your roof. Fire produces temperatures well over 1200 degrees Fahrenheit, along with smoke and hot gases. At times it is necessary to eliminate heat, smoke and hot gases before firefighters can enter to extinguish the fire. The ventilation must be done quickly to help reduce fire spread and smoke damage. Often walls must be forcibly opened to check for "hidden" fires, allowing complete fire extinguishment. After the fire is out, the damage may appear unnecessary; however, without the use of these fire fighting techniques, complete fire suppression would be extremely difficult.
The North Cowichan Fire Department is sincerely committed to providing you with the best possible service.
If you are insured
The first thing to do after the fire is to contact your insurance company or agent as soon as possible. If renting or leasing the property, you must also contact the owner. Your insurance adjuster may be of assistance with making immediate repairs or help in securing your home. If you are unable to contact your agent and need professional assistance in boarding up your home, contact a general contractor or a fire damage restoration firm. (Refer to your yellow pages under Contractors-General or Fire & Water Damage Restoration). If you need to obtain a copy of the Fire Report, contact the B.C. Fire Commissioners Office.
If you are not insured
If you are not insured and need assistance, there are several local services available to assist families who have been displaced from their homes, through any type of disaster. These services are available at any time of the day, every day of the year, with food, clothing, and housing. The Emergency Social Services is an agency that can act as a referral service for providing food, lodging, clothing, etc. As well, they will offer some emotional support to help you cope with these unfortunate circumstances.
Take valuables with you
If you must leave your home, try to locate the following items to take with you; important legal documents, identification, vital medicines, eyeglasses, hearing aids, valuables, credit cards, checkbooks, insurance policies, money, jewelry, photos, etc. (Note: allow safes to cool before opening)
If the Fire Department is investigating the fire, contact the Local Assistant to the Fire Commissioner at 250.746.3100 BEFORE REMOVING ANY ITEMS FROM THE HOUSE.
Assessment of fire damage
The Fire Department will do its utmost to have someone secure property after a fire. They will remove as much water and debris as possible, and protect lightly damaged property. If you are out of town at the time of the fire, they will see that your home is protected from further damage as much as possible.
The Fire Department will notify the Building/Inspection Services if your home has sustained damage as a result of a fire. Before attempting any repairs, please contact the Building/Inspection Services.
In any event, CALL YOUR INSURANCE AGENT as soon as possible. Your insurance company will see that windows, doors, ventilation opening and other openings are boarded up. If you rent your property, the owner should see that such jobs are done.
Often the Fire Department must have the utility services shut off or disconnected as a safety precaution, and also to prevent further damage to the structure and its contents. Contact the utility companies to restore the services, or contact the Building/Inspection Services for inspection and approval prior to restoring the services.
If you move
If you move, notify the Post Office, banks, utility companies, credit card companies, newspaper/magazine subscriptions, etc. of your new address.
Your duties after a fire loss:
Notify your insurance company
Your insurance policy is a contract between you and the insurer. The insurer promises to do certain things for you. In turn, you have certain obligations. The first thing to do is immediately notify the insurance company of the fire loss.
Protect the property
You need to protect the property from further damage or loss by making reasonable repairs such as covering holes in the roof or walls, and draining the water lines in winter if the house will not be heated for some time. (The insurer can refuse to pay losses that occur from not taking reasonable care.)
Make an inventory of damaged personal property showing in detail the quantity, description, what you paid for the items when purchased, how long you have had the items, the amount of damage sustained, and how much it would cost to replace. Include with the inventory any bills or documents which can help establish the item's value. Your insurance adjuster should have some inventory forms that can be of assistance.
Formal statement of loss
Submit within a stated time period (usually 30 to 60 days) a formal statement of loss. The statement of loss covers such items as; the time and cause of the loss, names and addresses of those who have an interest in the property, building plans and specifications of the original home and a detailed estimate for repairs, the damaged inventory, receipts for additional living expenses, and loss of use claims.
Notify the mortgage company
You also have a responsibility to inform your mortgage company of the fire and to keep them informed of activities to restore the property. They "own" a portion of your dwelling, and are interested in seeing their investment handled properly. They may have forms for you to fill out and they may want to inspect the property. Their name, along with yours, will be on the face of the cheque to cover repairs to the structure. It is to your mutual advantage to work together at this time.