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Church Fire Damage Recovery
By the RestorationSOS Educational Staff
Fire damage to a church can have long-lasting effects. If the fire is serious enough, parishioners may be left without a place to worship for a matter of weeks and various church programs, ministries, and schools may find their activities severely curtailed or discontinued until proper fire damage restoration has taken place.
Church fires are many times not discovered until they have grown considerably in size, meaning they have the chance to cause that much more damage. By the time the fire is extinguished, serious structural damage may have occurred, making the building unstable. Under no circumstances should anyone enter the building until structural stability has been verified.
Any utilities serving the church should be deactivated. This is standard operating procedure with any case of fire damage. Electricity can spark a renewed blaze and leaking gas coupled with smoldering ashes could actually trigger a serious explosion. Shut off all utilities at their source and do not turn them on again until approval has been given by the qualified electricians or utility companies.
Fires may leave behind toxic fumes in addition to smoke, so proper breathing gear will be needed. Smoke inhalation is the single most common cause of fire damage injuries. Open windows and doors to get air circulating and remove odors from smoke and soot. Air filters within the building will need to be changed out frequently during the clean up period, since they will become clogged with soot and other airborne particles.
Any structural supports that may have been damaged should be repaired first, restoring the structural stability of the building and preventing the risk of it falling in or collapsing. In addition, any loose items that were damaged will need to be removed and taken elsewhere for cleaning and repair. In some cases, these items may be successfully repaired and restored; others may need to be replaced. Fire damage restoration professionals can be of invaluable service when it comes to making these determinations.
Keep in mind that sprinkler systems may have been activated as a result of the fire, meaning that there may be water damage in addition to problems caused by fire. Excess or standing water will need to be removed from the building in order to prevent subsequent mold problems or other long-term water-related issues. The mess created by ash and soot mixing with water may be considerable and, in many cases, may require professional cleaning in order to fully rectify.
Lastly, do not assume that just because a fire was in one area of a building that that is where all the damage is located. Ventilation systems can move smoke to various areas in a facility, so be sure to check the entire building for signs of smoke damage.
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