Recent Fire Damage Posts
Firepits Should Be a Safe Sanctuary
No matter if you choose to go with a simple or elaborate firepit, make sure to make your design with safety in mind.
Spring evenings are my favorite time to utilize the fire pit in the back yard. The night air is still a little crisp, and the bugs are not in full terrorize mode. Lighting the fire, pouring a drink, and putting on some ‘90s rock music are the keys to my paradise. And I hope that you enjoy relaxing by your fire pit as much as I do. Oh, you don’t have a fire pit, but I bet you want one now.
If I have managed to spark any interest in setting up a fire pit, be sure to check out the following safety “Do’s and Don’ts” from Nationwide Insurance.
DO: Build your fire pit on a level surface
Make sure the ground or surface is even to reduce the risk of fire escaping beyond your fire pit. The level ground also reduces the risk of someone stumbling or items rolling into the fire.
DO: Keep the fire at a safe distance
To keep your fire from causing damage, build the fire pit at least 10 feet from your home, fences, trees and the like. Portable fire pits are great but do not be tempted to relocate it inside a garage or covered porch if it happens to rain.
DON’T: Use gasoline or lighter fluid
Never use gasoline or kerosene to start your fire; such fuels can cause a fire to get out of control quickly. Instead, use dry wood as kindling that doesn’t extend beyond the edge of the pit.
DO: Monitor guests around fire pits
Make sure guests maintain a proper distance and don’t exhibit risky behavior. Keep close tabs on children and pets.
DON’T: Build a fire pit with river stones
Smooth stones from river beds may have absorbed moisture over time and can heat rapidly and explode. Instead of river stones, build your fire pit with dry, rough rocks.
DO: Check the weather report
Avoid using your fire pit on windy days, since flames or embers can spread to your home, yard and nearby trees.
DON’T: Leave a fire unattended
Even if your fire pit is small, flames can spread quickly if left unattended. Monitor at all times.
DO: Put your fire out safely
Once you extinguish your fire with water, gently stir and spread the ashes to cool. Leave only when they’re cool to the touch.
DO: Have an emergency plan
Keep a fire extinguisher, garden hose or bucket of sand close to douse the fire in case it gets out of hand. If you can’t put it out quickly, call 9-1-1.
Following these best practices will help you to keep your sanctuary a safe and relaxing place. Now if you would excuse me, I am off to cut some firewood and purchase a few bags of sand.
Safety Is the Greatest Benefit
Fire can quickly spread from a chimney to the rest of a structure. Preventative maintenance can significantly reduce the risk of a fire.
In the ten years that I have lived in my home, I have used the fireplace only a handful of times, and all but two of them were when the power went out during a winter storm. I am sure that many of our readers get a lot of usage out of their fireplaces, even when it isn’t that cold outside, but how many of you regularly have your chimney professionally cleaned? Thoroughly cleaning your chimney can provide you with a few benefits, including the safety and health of your family.
A chimney's purpose is to provide ventilation from the gases or smoke that generate from a device used to heat materials such as a stove, boiler, or fireplace. And over time and with each use a substance called creosote can build up on the inside walls of a chimney. In addition to being flammable, creosote reduces the airflow of a chimney, and that can prevent toxins and smoke from properly clearing from your home. As I mentioned, creosote is flammable. And a flammable substance that can be that close to a source of heat could lead to disaster. A burning ember from the fireplace can float up to a deposit of creosote and cause it to ignite, and the fire can quickly spread through the chimney and affect your home. A regularly maintained chimney can help to limit your family’s exposure to harmful gasses and help to prevent fires.
The buildup of creosote is not the only reason to have your chimney cleaned. Animals such as birds and rodents can nest in chimneys and being with them other flammable materials or block the pathway of toxins and smoke. So if you are like me and rarely use your fireplace, you may still need to consider a professional cleaner inspect it just in case you decide, (or have to) use your fireplace.
Clean chimneys have other benefits such as more efficient heating and lower power bills during the colder months. But the increased safety is well worth the time and cost to find a professional chimney sweep and start a cleaning routine. Cleaning chimneys may not be one of the services that SERVPRO of East Greenville County provides, but if you are having trouble finding a service provider, we will be glad to help you out.
Proper Post-Holiday Tree Care and Disposal
Christmas has come and gone, and it is almost the new year. Now it is nearly time for the big post-holiday cleanup. Which by the way, is my least favorite part of the whole thing and the reason that I use the “simple and tasteful” approach when decorating my home (even though I love it when others go all out). And if you use a real tree to bring the holiday joy, you may wonder what options you have when it comes to disposing of the ol’ Tannenbaum. The great news is that residents in our area have an eco-friendly solution at the ready.
Once again Greenville County is offering a Christmas Tree Recycling Program that includes curb pick-up (check for availability in your area) and drop-off locations across the county. Just make sure that all trees are free of tinsel, ornaments, and lights. There are several places to drop off your tree including Simpsonville City Park, Travelers Rest City Hall, and Greenville’s recycling centers. Making it easy and convenient to properly dispose of your tree.
Why is it important to properly dispose of your tree?
The week between Christmas and New Year’s Day can be a hectic time. You may have to go back to work on a short week and have a lot to do in a little time, or you may be off and spending time with family and enjoying your new “toys.” It can be easy to forget to water the tree, after all, Christmas has passed and it can seem less important to make sure the tree is vibrant and green. But it is imperative to make sure that your tree is still adequately cared for until it is removed from the house. A dry tree has a significantly higher risk of becoming a fire hazard.
So make sure to monitor the water levels daily. If you run your fingers through the needles if they feel brittle and fall off easily into your hand, the tree is too dry and should be removed from the house. Experts suggest that a properly cared for tree can stay fresh for three to four weeks, after that its chances of drying to an unacceptable and unsafe level. Keep that in mind if you like to buy your tree early in the holiday season.
Make your post-holiday a safe one and help start off 2019 incident free by properly caring for and disposing of your Christmas tree.
Fry the Turkey, Not Your Yourself: Turkey Frying Safety Tips
Fried turkey is delicious, but it can be disastrous if safety is not a priority during the preparation process.
It took a while, but Fall has finally come to Greenville. The temperatures are getting cooler, the leaves are changing, and you may even have to warm the car up before heading to work some mornings. But the best parts of the season, to me, are the all the holiday foods. Each year I start planning my Thanksgiving menu weeks in advance, and that includes doing a test run of some of the foods that are only brought out for the big day to make sure it will be just right.
But this year I am thinking of changing it up a little and frying the turkey. I'm talking acutally doing it myself, not ordering one from a restaurant the day before and fighting the temptation to dig in. I admit I am a little nervous about frying the bird, after all when you work in the restoration industry you see and hear about fires and other disasters that can happen if the proper safety steps are not followed. Luckily, there are several reliable sources for techniques and safety protocols that can help to ensure that the only worry will be impressing the in-laws.
StateFarm.com has several safety tips to secure a “scorchless” celebration, including:
- Keep outdoor fryers off decks, out of garages and a safe distance away from trees and other structures.
- Make sure the turkey is thawed and dry before cooking. Ice or water that mixes into the hot oil can cause flare-ups.
- Watch the weather. Never operate a fryer outdoors in the rain or snow.
- Place the fryer on a level surface, and avoid moving it once it's in use.
- Leave 2 feet between the tank and the burner when using a propane-powered fryer.
- Follow the manufacturer's instructions to avoid overfilling. Oil can ignite when it makes contact with the burner.
- Choose a smaller turkey for frying. A bird that's 8 to 10 pounds is best; pass on turkeys over 12 pounds.
- Never leave fryers unattended.
- Keep a fire extinguisher nearby during the heating, cooking, and cooling process.
Food Guru Alton Brown has designed a Fry Derrick that can help ensure your safety and the safety of your property. You can see a brief instruction video here.
Remember to be thinking about safety when working in a kitchen, or cooking outdoors in this case, and then you and your loved ones can focus on enjoying the meal, and no one has to take a to-go plate to the emergency room.
If you have a turkey fryer incident or any other accident in the kitchen SERVPRO of East Greenville County specializes in Fire and Smoke Damage Restoration and we can help you ANY day of the year.
SERVPRO of East Greenville Observes Fire Prevention Week
Each year the week of October 9th is recognized as Fire Prevention Week by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) to commemorate the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. More than 250 people died, 100,000 homes and businesses were destroyed, and thousands of acres were burned, and that disastrous event changed the way that civil engineers and firefighters viewed fire safety. Since 1922 Fire Protection Week has been sponsored by the NFPA, and President Coolidge declared it a national observance in 1925 making FPW America’s longest-running public health observance. During FPW firefighters provide public education to children and adults to promote fire safety and reduce fire-related casualties.
The campaign for Fire Prevention Week 2018 is “Look. Listen. Learn. Be aware. Fire can happen anywhere,” and focuses on teaching people three necessary steps to reduce the likelihood of a fire and how to escape in the event of a fire.
Look for places fire could start. Take a good look around your home. Identify potential fire hazards and take care of them.
Listen for the sound of the smoke alarm. You could have only minutes to escape safely once the smoke alarm sounds. Go to your outside meeting place, which should be a safe distance from the home and where everyone should know to meet.
Learn two ways out of every room and make sure all doors and windows leading outside open easily and are free of clutter.
For more information including printable materials and videos for fire safety and prevention visit NFPA.org. And contact your local fire department to see if they are hosting any Fire Prevention Week events.
Dealing with Marijuana Residue and Odor in Your Greenville, SC Rental Property.
Similar to cigarette smoke, marijuana residue can build up over time and have drastic impacts on a structure.
The past few years have seen many states legalize marijuana for recreational or medicinal use, and property managers in those states are facing the challenge of removing marijuana residue and odor after a tenant moves out. South Carolina has yet to legalize marijuana at any level of use, but property managers in Greenville still have to face those same challenges.
Marijuana residue can enter the ventilation system of the structure; it can seep into carpeting or other soft contents, walls can be severely stained just like with cigarette smoke. And the length of the tenants’ tenure may have an impact on the level of contamination and processes that are needed to clean and restore the structure. Marijuana smoke and residue may also be combined with incense and other items used to mask the odor, and that may cause even more staining and penetration of the materials inside of a structure. A simple wipe down with retail cleaning solutions may be enough to clean the walls in an apartment that had a tenant with a twelve-month lease. But if the resident had been living there for multiple years, it may be time to call in a professional.
One of SERVPRO of East Greenville County’s specialties is the remediation of smoke damage, and we have the specialized resources to remove the damage, stains, and odor that smoke can cause. So, we can treat structures with marijuana residue with the same care and expertise as those with other types of smoke. Our cleaning solution can be increased or diluted to adjust to the level of staining without damaging the walls. Our air movers, ozone machines, and carpet cleaners are powerful enough to deodorize and remove residue from the air inside of structures and can help reduce the need to have the carpet replaced.
Marijuana cleanup is a sensitive subject, and it is what it is, no judgment from us. So if you are dealing with the impacts of marijuana use on your structure SERVPRO of East Greenville has the experience and resources to clean it up and give you peace of mind.
Be Safe While Enjoying Your Fireworks in Greenville, SC
SERVPRO of East Greenville County wishes everyone a Safe and Happy Independence Day.
Next week is the United States of America’s birthday, and we celebrate that day with burgers, hotdogs, and days at the beach. But that night belongs to the fireworks. Many cities will have enormous firework displays, like Greer’s Freedom Blast on June 30 and the Wells Fargo Red, White & Blue Festival in Greenville on July 4, that are managed by professional pyrotechnic experts that will light up the sky and make memories for years to come. And some of us will do our own thing…
Sparklers, snakes, roman candles, bottle rockets, hoosker doos, and hoosker don’ts. We all have our favorite. But no matter what type of blast you prefer, safety must be a top priority. Because according to the National Fire Protection Association, more fires are reported on July 4th than any other day of the year. Thousands of fires and injuries, nearly 40% of all reported fires and emergency room visits, are related to fireworks.
So, if you are planning to put on your own fireworks extravaganza, please keep these tips from the National Safety Council in mind.
- Never use fireworks while impaired by drugs or alcohol
- Never allow young children to handle fireworks
- Older children should use them only under close adult supervision
- Anyone using fireworks or standing nearby should wear protective eyewear
- Never light them indoors
- Only use them away from people, houses, and flammable material
- Only light one device at a time and maintain a safe distance after lighting
- Never ignite devices in a container
- Do not try to re-light or handle malfunctioning fireworks
- Soak unused fireworks in water for a few hours before discarding
- Keep a bucket of water nearby to fully extinguish fireworks that don't go off or in case of fire
Making a fire Escape Plan for Your Home
NFPA.org is an excellent source of material to help prepare your family fire safety plan.
You had fire drills growing up at school, (hopefully) you have the occasional fire drill at work now that you are an adult, but do you ever have fire drills at home? Coming up with and practicing family safety drills can help to make sure your family is prepared in the event of an emergency. It is an important topic to discuss with your family, especially children.
The National Fire Protection Association has a helpful section on how to create a family fire escape plan. It includes how to draw a fire escape path for your home, how to reinforce fire safety to younger children, and tips how to stay as safe as possible during a fire.
Some of the tips include:
- Call 911 as soon as possible, even if you think you can contain the fire
- Know at least 2 ways out of each room
- Have a designated outside meeting place a safe distance from the home
- Assign “partners” for young, elderly, or family members with mobility issues
- Close Doors behind you as you leave each room to slow the spread of smoke, heat, and fire
Your family’s safety is the first priority. After emergency services have done their job SERVPRO of East Greenville County will be here to help you repair, restore, and recover your belongings.
Hoarding Can Negatively Impact Fire Safety
Stacks of items can block windows and doors preventing escape or rescue during a catastrophe like a fire.
You may know someone that is a hoarder or be a hoarder yourself. If so you understand the many struggles that hoarders face when dealing with their mental and emotional well being and physical condition of their home. My grandmother was a hoarder; there was clearly defined path through her house carved out from the stacks of books, items of clothing, and unopened packages she ordered during late night TV. My family didn’t look into the proper ways to discuss her situation with her, and more often than not it would lead to months-long arguments. She only agreed to let us help her after she learned a friend of hers that also struggled with hoarding, passed away in a fire and that she couldn’t escape because her way was blocked by her belongings.
The local fire department helped us to clear out my grandmother’s home and explained how hoarding isn't just a danger to those that live inside the house, but also to those that may be the ones that try to save them in the event of a fire. Piles of belongings can obstruct entry/exit points such as doors and windows. Stacks of items may impair and slow movement or prevent crawling to avoid smoke inhalation, or they may fall and cause injury.
If you know someone that may be in an unsafe situation because of hoarding contact your local fire department to see if they have a Hoarding Taskforce that specializes in working with those that deal with hoarding. Even if they do not have a task force, they may have resources available like a contact for support groups to help start the discussion about hoarding.
Fire Extinguisher Tips for Your Greer Home or Business
There are many types of fire extinguishers. Make sure that you are using the correct type for the category of fire you are dealing with.
During moments of crisis, we often make decisions within the moment. Sometimes we make decisions out of instinct from training, or we react out of panic. Reactions can solve the problem or can make them worse. That is why running training drills or attending continuing education courses will build knowledge and develop an instinct to make smart decisions is paramount to the success of safety.
National Building Safety Month concludes with a week dedicated to Improving Education & Training Standards for a Safer Tomorrow, and we would like to offer up some basic information on fire extinguishers from FireExtinguisherTraining.com to wrap up the month. Remember it is important to know what type of fire you are dealing with and what type of extinguisher needed for each type
Part of using a fire extinguisher properly is knowing the Three A’s:
- Activate the building’s alarm system or call 911 to notify the proper authorities
- Look for anyone in immediate danger or incapacitated and Assist them in exiting the building (without risk to yourself)
- After A’s 1 & 2 are completed, should you Attempt to extinguish the
You should also only attempt to fight a fire if
- the fire is small and contained
- you are safe from toxic smoke
- you have the means to escape
- your instincts (there is that word again) tell you that it is ok
If there is a fire and it is safe for you to take action with the proper type of extinguisher, remember to P.A.S.S.
Pull the pin
Aim the nozzle or hose at the base of the fire from a safe distance
Squeeze the lever to discharge the extinguisher
Sweep the nozzle from side to side until the fire is out, moving forward as the fire diminishes. Be alert in case of re-ignition.
Practicing using fire extinguishers with your family or coworkers can help to educate and promote safety at home and the office and make sure that you are as prepared as you can be in the event of an incident.
SERVPRO of East Greenville County is here to help.
If you have had a fire and have damage to your property because of the fire, smoke, or soot we are happy to help with your repair or restoration needs. Call us at 864-292-3495 anytime.
You successfully put out a small fire and saved the day. Now what?
Fire extinguishers can leave a huge mess. Make sure to clean up with the correct methods based on the type of extinguisher.
How do you clean up the fire extinguisher discharge? What type of specialized equipment do you need? How long should you wait to clean it up? All of these are great questions to keep in mind, and the answers vary based on the type of extinguisher used. The following information provided by State Systems Inc can help know what steps to take next when dealing with the aftermath of a small fire.
*Normally the discharge from fire extinguishers does not present a danger or hazard to health. But it is essential to clean each type appropriately.
Fire Extinguisher Types and Cleaning Methods
Dry Chemical: Portable and compact, these extinguishers are well suited for minor incidents in commercial and industrial environments.
- Sweep or vacuum any residue that has settled on the affected area.
- Read the label of the extinguisher to determine the chemical used and then use the proper solution to neutralize it. Allow solutions to set for several minutes after applying before removal. (Note: there are multiple dry chemicals extinguisher types.)
- Wash the area with a mild soap and water solution; then rinse.
- Blow the area dry to remove excess water.
Wet Chemical: Uses a liquid agent to cool surfaces and reduce flames, commonly found in kitchens.
- Confirm all fuel sources to the equipment have been shut off.
- Make sure to wear rubber gloves. If the liquid or fire extinguishing agent comes into contact with your skin or eyes, flush thoroughly with water.
- Use hot, soapy water and a cloth or sponge to wipe away the foamy residue. Scrub all surfaces that have come into contact with the excess agent.
- Once all surfaces impacted by the residue are cleaned, rinse and allow time to dry before returning power back to the equipment.
Clean Agent: Discharge dissipates into the atmosphere making this extinguisher suitable for areas with sensitive equipment like a server room.
- Does not require special precautions to clean after use.
Class K: Capable of holding in steam and vapor, commonly found in commercial kitchen overhead extinguishers.
- Can be cleaned with soap and water
Always remember to replace or recharge your extinguisher after each use. For more information review State Systems Inc FAQs or contact your local fire department.
Greenville County Smoke and Soot Cleanup
Smoke and soot damage impacts many aspects of your home, including family heirlooms.
Smoke and soot is very invasive and can penetrate various cavities within your home, causing hidden damage and odor. Our smoke damage expertise and experience allows us to inspect and accurately assess the extent of the damage to develop a comprehensive plan of action.
Smoke and soot facts:
- Hot smoke migrates to cooler areas and upper levels of a structure.
- Smoke flows around plumbing systems, seeping through the holes used by pipes to go from floor to floor.
- The type of smoke may significantly affect the restoration process.
Different Types of Smoke
There are two different types of smoke–wet and dry. As a result, there are different types of soot residue after a fire. Before restoration begins, SERVPRO of East Greenville County will test the soot to determine which type of smoke damage occurred. The cleaning procedures will then be based on the information identified during pretesting. Here is some additional information:
Wet Smoke – Plastic and Rubber
- Low heat, smoldering, pungent odor, sticky, smeary. Smoke webs are more challenging to clean.
Dry Smoke – Paper and Wood
- Fast burning, high temperatures, heat rises, therefore, smoke rises.
Protein Fire Residue – Produced by evaporation of material rather than from a fire
- Virtually invisible, discolors paints and varnishes, extreme pungent odor.
Our Fire Damage Restoration Services
Since each smoke and fire damage situation is a little different, each one requires a unique solution tailored to the specific conditions. We have the equipment, expertise, and experience to restore your fire and smoke damage. We will also treat your family with empathy and respect and your property with care.
Have Questions about Fire, Smoke, or Soot Damage?
Call Us Today – 864-292-3495
The Origins of Building Codes
Have you ever asked “Why do I need to get a building permit and follow building codes? It’s my property,” while building a deck, remodeling a kitchen, or making a small addition to your home? You are not alone, so it may help to have an understanding of where building codes come from and how they can protect your family, your investment, and your community.
Week 1 of National Building Safety Month is about partnering with building code officials to build safer and stronger communities. And SERVPRO of East Greenville County wants to help our community do the same.
A Short History Lesson On Building Codes
Construction methods and materials contributed to the densely populated area of large cities being prone to massive fires that could quickly spread. The damage and loss of life these fires would devastate communities and recovery could take months or even years. In 1871 The Great Chicago Fire was such an event, burning for three days and destroying miles of the city.
The devastation left behind by the fire had a significant impact on the mayoral election, leading to Joseph Medill to win the election after he adjusted his campaign platform to focus on stricter building and fire codes. He worked with Chicago’s civic leaders and created codes requiring new structures to be built with noncombustible brick or stone exteriors as well as roofs that composed of ignition resistant materials. Over the next few years many cities would follow suit and create their own fire and building codes, and eventually, a national standard began to develop.
Organizations formed in each region of the country, each publishing lists with their own standards and codes. And although most initial codes were intended to reduce the risks and impacts of fire, codes have evolved to cover building stability, sanitation, energy efficiency, and more. Regional organizations started forming in 1873, but it wasn’t until 1994 that many of the organizations merged to form the International Code Council and began to set current codes and regulations. And since 2003 the NAFP 5000 Building Construction and Safety Code is revised, updated, and published every three years.
How Building Codes Can Benefit You
Getting a permit and adhering to building and fire codes are not just civic hoops for you to jump through with no purpose. They are actually parts of a process that is designed to protect a structure, its owners, and occupants. Codes officials ensure the safety and well being of the community by enforcing building and fire codes. Communicating and partnering with Greer and Greenville building officials can help to avoid issues that can cost time and money, or worse put your family at risk.
For more about building code history visit ICCsafe.org.
Thanks to the ICC and Fire Engineering.
Greenville, SC - Not the Ordinary Second Hand Smoke
Greenville, SC-Not the Ordinary Second Hand Smoke
When it comes to fire damages, you could be affected just as an innocent bystander. Even though your structure is not the one in flames, your structure can be harmed with smoke, soot and heat damage.
Locally we had a church catch fire. Thankfully no one was inside the church at the time of the fire and the firefighters from three responding fire departments were all able to walk away unharmed. Unfortunately the church is a total loss; however that does not mean that this loss did not affect your home or business in the area.
Many neighboring buildings can be affected unknowingly due to a fire in the area. Smoke and soot can enter the building and cause damage to both the structure and contents of a dwelling. It is best to let the professionals assess and clean up from the smoke damage. Cleaning up after a smoke damage seems like a pretty easy concept but it does require a lot of experience and manpower. It is not recommended to attempt the cleaning on your own.
Soot and smoke can cause discoloration, corrosion and a lingering odor. The sooner a SERVPRO professional can get on site the better chance of a successful restoration. The first thing that soot and smoke can cause is the discoloration of most surfaces. Many finishes on products will start to turn yellow as will upholstery and textiles, while metals can tarnish. As time passes, this damage can become permanent. Because ash is acidic, the longer you take to call SERVPRO, the more destruction it can cause.
If your home or business was recently in the area of a fire, call for a scope appointment. We can identify the damages and determine what can be salvaged. We can quickly arrange for a trained crew to come on site and begin the restoration process. Once on site our trained professionals will work to restore your home or business to pre-loss conditions – “Like it Never Even Happened”.