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Warehouse Fire Damage Recovery
By the RestorationSOS Educational Staff
Warehouse fires can be extremely dangerous and destructive, depending on the size of the facility, what if any employees are present, how fast the fire department responds, and the nature of the materials stored within the warehouse. As with any case of fire damage, the recovery process should begin as soon as possible in order to prevent further damage from occurring, cleaning up the damage that has been done, and affecting immediate repairs in order for the warehouse's parent company to continue to do business with a bare minimum of interruption.
Be careful when working in or around a fire damaged structure as smoke and soot may serve to give off fumes which may be extremely toxic and quite hazardous if inhaled. Be sure that everyone working the area is wearing protective clothing such as long sleeves and pants, heavy-duty reinforced work boots, rubber gloves, and head protection. Breathing gear and protective eyewear may also be required.
Once the fire is out, and the all clear given by local fire authorities, the warehouse will have to be opened up and aired out in order to remove smoke odor and soot particles. The best way to do this is to open as many windows and doors as possible to get fresh air moving into the structure. Do not make use of air conditioning or fans; in fact, the electricity (along with the gas) will need to be shut off in the aftermath of a fire and may not be used again until it has been inspected by a qualified technician.
Damaged inventory will need to be removed from the warehouse and taken to another location in order to determine what has been damaged beyond repair and what exactly may be salvaged. This is one area where the company may suffer considerable loss, so care and time should be taken when determining what can be saved.
Warehouse fires may also spark water damage due to the response of sprinkler systems. Unless they are targeted systems, which deliver water only to the area where the fire actually is, then much of the facility may be covered with water, which requires its own special brand of cleanup techniques.
If the fire has opened the roof of the warehouse, it may become necessary to protect the warehouse from the elements such as rain, ice or snow, any one of which may cause additional damage. A makeshift cover will have to be constructed to enclose the warehouse until repair work has been completed.
A comprehensive list of all items damaged by the fire should be prepared for insurance purposes. Most of the materials and inventory should already be accounted for; however, a thorough video or photographic record of the damage will prove invaluable when working with insurance companies and claims adjusters.
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