Recovering from a Fire
No matter how minor or severe, fires can be devastating for families. Returning to normal can seem impossible immediately after a fire. However, taking the right steps can make the process easier. The Springfield Fire Department hopes you find the following information helpful as you begin the recovery process.
What to Expect
Once you are able to safely re-enter your home, you may notice damage to items that were not actually burned. In addition to flames, heat, smoke and water can all cause serious damage to your home and the things inside. While the Springfield Fire Department does its best to preserve what can be saved, significant losses may be unavoidable.
You may notice holes in the walls and/or ceiling of your home. The holes are cut to help remove the toxic gasses, smoke and heat produced by fires. This helps slow the rate of fire spread and the chance of explosion. Holes may also be cut to check for fire spread.
Use caution. Fires can cause structural damage and the soot and dirty water left behind could pose a health risk. Before re-entering the home or touching damaged items, check with Building Development Services to ensure it’s safe. It’s especially important to check before beginning any repairs.
Steps to Take Following a Fire
- Contact a relief agency. Agencies like the American Red Cross provide services such as lodging, food, clothing and other important items.
- Call your insurance company or agent. Find out the steps you must take to begin the claims process. If you are not insured, you can find available services by calling United Way 2-1-1.
- Check with the Springfield Fire Department before re-entering your home.
- Do not use utilities until you have first gotten the go-ahead from City Utilities.
- Get a copy of your fire report. This is a public document that can be obtained for about $3 by calling the Springfield Fire Department. It will provide you with information your insurance company or other agencies may request.
- If you are a renter, contact your landlord or property owner to inform them about the fire. If you own the property, contact your mortgage lender.
- Try to find valuable documents and records and begin the process of replacing those that have been damaged or destroyed.
- Save your receipts! Before reimbursing you, your insurance company may ask you to provide proof of any costs associated with the fire. You may also need receipts to prove any losses claimed on your income tax return.
- Use caution when hiring companies to restore or repair damage. Get referrals and at least 3 bids first. And never pay in full up front. Before starting any repair work, contact Building Development Services. An Inspector must survey the damage prior to any work being started.
- Take care of yourself. Fires can take a large emotional toll. Call 2-1-1 for a list of available mental health resources to help you through the difficult recovery process.