How to prevent additional damage after a fire

fire damage to 2nd floor

After a fire you have a fiduciary responsibility to prevent additional damage to your property.

After a fire, you need to secure the premises. A fire is a traumatic event. It can be emotionally overwhelming and devastating to your property. But, you have a responsibly to mitigate your losses. We can help with this process but regardless DO NOT ENTER THE PREMISSES UNTIL THE FIRE DEPARMENT HAS CLEARED IT FOR REOCCUPATION.

First, contact us and your insurance carrier.
Second, secure the premises and remove any undamaged items from the burned area that can be salvaged. Start an inventory list of all the damaged property. If there is not a good safe area to do this on location, we recommend acquiring a storage unit. Most insurance companies will add the cost to your claim. We will assist in arranging this for you if needed.
Third, close off all areas that the fire did not happen in. This will prevent the smoke odor from permeating into these spaces.
Fourth, weatherize the property. If the windows, roof, doors were damaged, they need to be temporarily secured. If the temperature will be below freezing and the heating system is compromised, follow the guidelines on the “How to prevent water damage” page.
Fifth, remove all property that has become wet from extinguishing the fire. Other than small items, it is best to leave the building materials like carpets, sheetrock, and other fixtures to the professionals. 
Sixth, as soon as you can, remove all clothing, bedding, area rugs, and other fabric items and launder them according to the suggested process on their labels. Most area rugs should be brought to professional cleaners.

Your insurance company is on your side, but they need to protect themselves from bloated claims of value. Since a fire can destroy an item completely, if it is worth a significant amount of money, you need to document its condition and value. There are two ways to do this:

First: Keep receipts for high-ticket items in a protected space; a good fire-safe can do this. But even they can get hot enough to destroy the receipts. So, if you take a photo of the receipt with your cell phone, it will get backed up to your provider if you have that set up. If not, scan it to your computer with a good backup service provided it will always be there.
Second: Take pictures of valuable items and all the areas of your home to prove the existence of the items in your home. This photo inventory will be crucial if there are any disputes about the validity of your claim.

Homeowners and business insurance policies have limits on the value of personal belongings. Check your policy; if it seems low, for a small increase, you can raise this amount as you accumulate more
possessions. In the case of businesses, the same applies to fixtures and inventory.

To do this:
1.Take pictures of the overall damages caused by the fire.

2. Take pictures of items damaged in the fire. Remember you have 2 claims for insurance, The structure and the possessions. if you are a renter the possessions are your primary concern.

3. Smoke damage is another important area to document. this is when the ability to use your cell phone to video the areas that are not burned but have smoke damage. You can show the soot on items, and describe the ordure you smell in the rooms.

4. Water Damage from extinguishing the fire is another area to be concerned about. pictures and videos of the damage will help you recover the money you deserve.

You have a fiduciarily responsibly to reduce the loss after the fire has been put out. You should remove all undamaged items and rent a storage unit to protect them. Check with your insurance agent to see if you have coverage for the storage costs, and for temporary housing. if yo do not have housing coverage the Red Cross can help in most cases.