Archived Fire Damage Blog Posts
How Does Defensible Space Work?
During late summer and early fall it is not uncommon to experience many thunder storms in Central Oregon. With thunder comes lightening. Though thrilling to watch, lightening is also very dangerous and unpredictable. It's impossible to pin point where lightening is going to strike, but similar to any other type of unpredictable weather pattern, we can take preventative measures to minimize the possibility of any damage.
Defensible space can make a significant difference during a wildfire and protect from embers that can travel several miles from the actual fire front and the fire itself. According to the Oregon Office of State Fire Marshal, "embers are the leading cause of home loss during a wildfire. They can travel up to three miles ahead of the large flame front."
Defensible space is the buffer a property owner can create between the home or business and the grass, trees, shrubs, or any other wildland area that surrounds it. The best defense is to clean areas such as gutters, eaves and around a chimney where combustibles like dry pine needles may settle.
If a wildfire is within the area, it is important to keep patios dry and remove any flammable items like outdoor furniture cushions and any combustibles that may ignite if coming in contact with an ember. Proper planning now can be the difference between suffering a catastrophic loss in the future.
Understanding Prescribed Burns for Preventing Wildfires in Central Oregon
A frequent occurrence in Central Oregon and in other heavily forested areas of the state are prescribed burns - but what is prescribed burning used for? In most parks, management-ignited prescribed fires are used instead of lightning-caused fires to manage vegetation. Prescribed burns have been ignited to reduce hazardous fuel loads near developed areas, manage landscapes, restore natural woodlands, and for research purposes.
In the event of a wildfire, talk with all family members about a fire escape plan and test out the plan twice a year.
Communication and preparedness are key in fire prevention. We recommend creating a detailed fire escape plan and making it habitual - that way, all of your family members are prepared in case of unforeseen circumstances.
We hope your property remains safe and protected. Should it require fire damage restoration, SERVPRO of Bend is here to help, 24 hours a day and seven days a week.
Protecting Your Space from Wildfire: Tips for Central Oregonians
In addition to barbeques, hikes, and floats in the Deschutes, comes the substantial risk of wildfires every summer. And while their permeation of our summertime air is a relatively recent occurrence compared to our area’s logging history, it is a danger nonetheless.
Wildfires are an ecological process designed to keep our forests healthy. As homes creep closer to our forests, the risk of fire damage to homes substantially increases. According to the Deschutes County Wildfire Mitigation Report, 96 percent of Deschutes County's land is located in a fire hazard area. And as the risk for fire damage increases, the need for fire damage prevention measures becomes more critical.
How is Wildfire Prevented?
Central Oregonians know the phrase “prescribed burn,” which the Forest Service manages to benefit natural resources and reduce the risk of unwanted wildfires in the future. These burns maintain the health of a forest by removing dead leaves, limbs, and other debris. By clearing the land, the prescribed burn helps prevent a wildfire.
But as we know, they don’t provide a 100 percent guarantee against wildfires from occurring. It is up to our Central Oregon homeowners to ensure their property is fire-safe. One of the best ways to achieve this is to create a defensible space.
What is a Defensible Space?
A defensible space is a virtual bubble surrounding the home where burnable material (fuel) is minimized. According to the OSU Extension Service, in the event of a wildfire, defensible spaces allow firefighters to safely defend homes and other structures while severing a direct pathway from a fire to a home.
How to Create a Defensible Space?
To create a defensible space, you must reduce flammable vegetation and other fuels around the home. There are different zones; what you do for each zone depends on the distance to the house.
Zone 0 - extends 0-5 feet from the structure.
Zone 1- extends 30 feet from the structure.
Zone 2 - extends 30-100 feet from buildings.
Some examples of creating a defensible space include:
- Removing dead plant materials, such as leaves and dry mulch) that accumulates on the ground surrounding your home and in the gutters.
- Removing or trimming limbs that overhang the home, so they are no closer than 10 feet from the roof or siding.
- Replacing mulch with rocks or other nonflammable material within 10 feet of the home.
- Storing firewood and lumber at least 10 feet from the home.
- Limiting plants surrounding the home to low-growing, non-woody, and adequately watered species.
- Cutting grass to no higher than 4 inches.
- Use fire-resistant plants that are native to Central Oregon.
If an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, the steps outlined above can help make a significant difference should a wildfire spread near your home. Take the time to protect your biggest asset now; you’ll be glad you did.
Defensible Space in Central Oregon
Central Oregon is a wonderful outdoor playground, whether you enjoy hiking, mountain biking, or fishing. Unfortunately, the beautiful forests, lakes and streams that surround our high desert wonderland are also susceptible to wild fires.
For Central Oregonians who live in a wooded area, we highly recommend that you create a defensible space around the perimeter of your home. What is a defensible space?
Defensible space is the area between a house and an oncoming wildfire that acts as a buffer that slows the fire and provides an opportunity for firefighters to defend the home. Defensible space is created and maintained through the proper management and modification of vegetation in the area immediately surrounding your home.
If you live in Central Oregon and have questions about how you can create a defensible space within your own yard, feel free to give SERVPRO of Bend a call at 541-385-7044.
Fire Damage to Residential Bend Oregon Home
Residential Fire Damage in Bend Oregon
SERVPRO of Bend received a call from a local Adjustor that they had a client who's property was damaged by fire and they needed SERVPRO to secure the area, since it is a high traffic area down town.
SERVPRO of Bend Technicians arrived to find that, after the site had been released by the Bend Fire Departments Fire Marshal, that the fire had damaged three-quarter of the property. The first thing SERVPRO of Bend was able to do was get fencing around the property and secure the area so to dissuade some curious onlookers to come in the perimeter to take a closer look.
This small neighborhood is especially significant to downtown Bend since it is registered as one of many historical homes.
SERVPRO of Bend was able to secure the area and subsequently cleaned the site and all of the fire debris without incident.
If you have questions about Smoke, Odor or Fire Damage Cleanup and Repairs, feel free to give SERVPRO of Bend a call at (541) 385-7044.
Protect Yourself & Your Property from Smoke This Wildfire Season
Since this year’s wildfire season began in the Western U.S. and into Canada, the presence of smoke in seemingly unlikely areas across the country has drawn the attention of Americans as well as the media.
Where typically we might see images of ashy skies and smokey sunsets in our own region, both the media and our online friends have been quick to share overcast-looking images from regions as far as the Midwest and the Eastern Seaboard. The captions of the images point out, “This isn’t a foggy day. This is smoke!”
One particular series of images and videos show the Manhattan skyline blanketed in smoke along with news that the Air Quality Index (AQI) for fine particulate matter in the air had reached nearly 160 – all due to wildfires in the West.
While the long-distance travel potential of wildfire smoke may be surprising to some, it’s certainly not surprising to wildfire experts. In fact, just last year during what was considered one of the worst wildfire seasons in decades, smoke from wildfires in the Western U.S. drifted through the atmosphere for nearly 5,000 miles.
Even at such a distance, smoke can be harmful to young children, pregnant women, seniors, and people with respiratory and heart disease. Imagine the effect smoke can have on both health and property when its source is less than a tank of gas away!
As we at SERVPRO of Bend are experts in smoke damage and odor remediation, we wanted to offer you some expert advice about protecting your body and property from wildfire smoke. But first, let’s take a look at how air quality is measured.
A Little About the Air Quality Index (AQI)
If a wildfire is close enough to threaten your property, or even just a few miles away, you need little warning that smoke rolling into your area may be harmful. In addition to the smell and the difficulty you may have breathing, you may also notice ash falling from the sky.
There’s no doubt you’ll need to take precautions to protect yourself, your family, your pets, and your home.
But, what if the fire is hundreds or thousands of miles away, presenting itself as a hazy day with an odor reminiscent of a warm campfire? In this case, paying attention to the Air Quality Index (AQI) can help you determine your risk.
AQI is the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) index for air quality. It takes into consideration the number of pollutants in the air (i.e., ground-level ozone, particle pollution, carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen dioxide), then assigns a number that indicates the severity of such pollutants.
The numbers go from zero to well-over 300, with the highest numbers indicating the most extreme levels of concern. AQIs from zero to 50 is considered good, and those 51 to 100 are moderate to acceptable. Beyond that, people should begin to take precautions.
- 101-150 – Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups: Members of sensitive groups (children, seniors, those with respiratory health issues, etc.) may experience health effects, while others are less likely to be affected.
- 151-200 – Unhealthy: Some members of the public may experience health effects, and those insensitive groups may have more serious health issues.
- 201-300 – Very Unhealthy: This is high enough for authorities to put out a health alert as the risk increases for everyone. Everyone should take precautions.
- 300-Plus – Hazardous: This indicates an emergency condition. You’ll want to leave ASAP.
You can typically track your region's AQI in real-time through your smartphone’s weather and/or news app.
Protect Yourself from Wildfire Smoke
Wildfire smoke can be unpredictable and can enter your area to varying degrees with little to no warning. So, it’s important you’re prepared and know how to respond when the sky darkens and your nose first picks up the scent. Here are tips for reacting in such conditions:
Keep Your Indoor Air Clean: When smoke rolls into your area, seal off all entry points into your home by closing all doors, windows, and vents. Turn your AC to recirculate and close the fresh-air intake. If you need to, consider the use of an air purifier. Not only do you want to keep the air you breathe clean, but you also want to prevent the possibility of your home absorbing smoke odors and damage.
Stay Indoors: If you have no reason to go outdoors, don’t. Stay inside to keep your smoke exposure to a minimum. This goes not just for you and your family, but also for your pets.
Wear a Mask: If and when you have to go outside – say, to go to work, head to the grocery store or pick up the kids from school – wear a mask. We all have them at this point.
Don’t Contribute to the Problem: Lighting candles, using the fireplace and even vacuuming and dusting can further contribute to poor air quality in your home. So, why do it when you’re already fighting the smoke?
Don’t Ignore Your Health: If you experience health effects, leave your home and consider visiting your physician or an ER doctor. Or, if you’re in a high-risk population and your home’s not sealed and equipped to handle the smoke, perhaps treat yourself to a night in a nice hotel. You get no points for toughing it out.
Contact SERVPRO of Bend
During this wildfire season, if your home sustains any smoke damage, don’t try to handle it on your own. Contact the Fire and Smoke Restoration Technicians at SERVPRO of Bend, and our team will quickly respond to your needs and provide you an estimate for getting your home back to normal.
To learn more, call us at (541) 385-7044 or fill out our online contact form. We’ll be happy to get back in touch with you as soon as possible!
It’s Wildfire Season. Think ‘Fire Prevention’ When Maintaining Your Property
It’s wildfire season again in Central Oregon – a reality that few people are eager to deal with less than a year after we saw more area burned in the Oregon Cascades than any of the previous 36 years combined.
The Labor Day wildfires of 2020 may have affected more land in and around the Oregon Cascades than any single wildfire season over the last 120 years. And, the devastation wasn’t limited to isolated wilderness land. The fires damaged more than 4,000 structures (including homes) and led to more than 10% of the state’s residents experiencing some level of evacuation advisory.
Yes, last year’s wildfire season was one for the history books.
For homeowners specifically, we at SERVPRO of Bend believe such recent events can also serve as a great reminder of why it’s essential to always think of “fire prevention” when maintaining your home and property. These efforts include such considerations as using non-combustible building materials whenever possible and creating a defensible space around your home.
Keep reading to learn what you can do today and in the future to help keep your home safe in the event there’s a wildfire in your area.
What is a Defensible Space?
One of the best things a homeowner can do to prevent wildfires from spreading to their homes (or vice-versa, a home fire spreading into surrounding land) is to create a “bubble” around the house where burnable material, or fuel, is kept to a minimum.
This area is called defensible space.
“To help your home survive a wildfire, create defensible space between your home and its surroundings by 100 feet or more,” states the document “Keeping Your Home and Property Safe from Wildfire,” which was created by the Oregon State University (OSU) Extension Service.
According to the OSU Extension Service, in the event of a wildfire, defensible spaces allow firefighters to safely defend your home and other structures while breaking up a direct pathway from the fire to your home.
The primary way to create such a space is to reduce flammable vegetation and other fuels around the home. Regularly remove dead plant material (i.e., leaves, needles, twigs, dry mulch, and woodpiles) that accumulates along the ground and in your gutters, and trim back overhanging limbs by at least 10 feet from the roof and siding.
Keep your property “lean and green” as you extend away from the house, working to incorporate fire-resistant plants into the landscape. These options include various types of plants, from trees and shrubs to annuals and perennials. (OSU Extension Service offers a 48-page guide to fire-resistant plants that you can download here.)
Other Fire-Safe Considerations
Besides creating a defensible space, other fire-resistant considerations can be made when building, remodeling, or even simply replacing features of your home. These include:
Roof & Siding: Always consider combustibility when building or replacing your roof or siding. Avoid using easily combustible material, such as cedar shakes, which, while attractive, can act as kindling when dry.
Patios & Decks: These outdoor spaces can also serve as fuel when a wildfire’s close. Ideally, for fire prevention, these spaces will be made from concrete or first-resistant composites. Wood decking is fine so long as it’s been treated against fire.
Screen Entry Points: Homes typically have several low-key entry points, such as vents or chimneys, that can be susceptible to flying embers. Be sure to screen these areas with 1/8th- to 1/4th-inch wire mesh to prevent flaming materials from finding their way into your home. Do NOT use nylon window screens as they can quickly melt.
What If I Get Fire or Smoke Damage?
Despite these efforts at keeping wildfires at bay and away from your property, it’s still possible your home may sustain fire, soot, and smoke damage if a wildfire finds its way into your area or neighborhood.
Should this happen, SERVPRO of Bend is there to respond quickly to your needs. After all. Immediate action and fast response can limit damage, prevent further damage and reduce restoration costs.
If you’ve experienced the misfortune of fire, soot, or smoke damage, contact us today. Our 24/7 emergency services are available by calling us at (541) 385-7044. Our highly trained fire restoration technicians will be there to help you!
Be Aware Of Overloading Circuits
Fire Damaged Power Box
With the summer months coming, it's easy to forget that overloading circuits with air conditioners and fans can be fatal if proper wattage is not regulated in your home.
Never overload electrical outlets and circuits. Overloaded electrical outlets, or circuits that supply power to several outlets, is a major cause of residential fires. Overloaded outlets and circuits carry too much electricity, which generates heat in undetectable amounts. The heat causes wear on the internal wiring system and can ignite a fire.
All wiring systems have circuit breakers or fuses that disconnect power when circuits become overloaded.
To prevent overloading, never plug more than two appliances into an outlet at once or use multiple extension cords or power strips to power devices. Use only outlets designed to handle multiple plugs.
Give special consideration to appliances that use 1,000 or more watts, such as air conditioners, refrigerators, hot plates, irons, microwave ovens, dishwashers, heaters, and deep fryers. Avoid plugging them into the same outlet or circuit. To use these appliances safely, know which outlets are connected to the same electrical circuit in your home. The electrical box in your home should be labeled to tell you where different circuits provide power. For devices, wattage requirements are listed in appliance manufacturer's instructions.
Begin a habit of regularly checking electrical cords and outlets. Fires that begin in these areas are difficult to detect, yet easy to prevent.
Spontaneous Combustion of Oil Soaked Rags
Now that winter is gone and summer is here, the lists of “Honey Do’s” are in full swing. One common item on a few of our lists is staining or re-staining a deck or wood items in the home.
Did you know that one of the most common type of Spontaneous Combustion fires are those caused by improperly disposing of oil and stain-soaked rags? Examples of these products are oil-based paints, stains, teak, linseed oils, varnishes, polyurethane, paint thinners, etc. Spontaneous combustion of oily rags occurs when rag or cloth is slowly heated to its ignition point through oxidation. The oils commonly used in oil-based paints and stains release heat as they dry. If the heat is not released in the air, it builds up. If this heat has no way to escape, like in a pile, the temperature will rise to a level high enough to ignite the oil and ignite the rag or cloth. The fire from this can spread quickly to other combustibles and cause great damage to your home or property.
Prevention of spontaneous combustion fires begins with good housekeeping. A clean work area can prevent a fire from spreading and getting bigger by not allowing the fire fuel to burn. Also understanding the potential for self-heating of rags soiled with oils such as linseed oil and turpentine is a key step in eliminating these preventable fires. To dispose of oily rags properly and safely,
Use a metal container with a tight-fitting lid. Place soiled and used rags inside and then fill the rest the way with water, seal the top and do not open it. This will prevent the oils from oxidizing, and thus keeping the rags from heating up and igniting.
If you have questions, feel free to call SERVPRO of Bend at 541-385-7044.
Common Causes of Winter House Fires
As the weather continues to get darker and colder, we all begin to spend more and more time indoors, cranking the heater and using all of our appliances more frequently than we might during the summer. Residential structure fires are common year round, with some estimates placing the total at over 350,000 per year, resulting in 6 to 8 billion dollars in damage. The majority of these take place during the winter months.
A long list of things could potentially cause a fire in your home this season. Though some are more likely to than others. Here is a short list in no particular order outlining the most-common causes of winter house fires and ways you can prevent them this winter:
1) Dryer Lint
This innocuous fluff can really ruin your day if forgotten about for long enough. Allowing your dryer to accumulate lint without clearing it regularly could result in a fire, which it does for over 3000 homes each year. Remember to clear the lint between each use, and don't leave your home while your dryer is running-- especially if it's on the older side.
The activity of cooking a nice meal for your family by most estimates tops the list of winter house fire causes. It's easy to see why: multiple heat sources, the use of oil and gas, open flames... a large number of culprits could be to blame for a fire starting in the kitchen. Injuries are also significantly more likely in your kitchen! Stay safe this holiday season by practicing good kitchen management: keep all flammable materials away from heat sources and flames, make sure children and pets are at least 3 feet back from the oven or any other cooking appliance, never leave anything on the stove unattended (even for a little while), and be sure to keep you stove and oven free of grease to the best of your abilities.
Americans aren't smoking at the rate they once did, but the smoking of cigars and cigarettes still cause many thousands of house fires every year. This is made worse during the winter months because smoking inside a warm home rather than out in the elements may sound tempting, though smoking indoors should be avoided at all costs; the highest number of deaths due to house fires occur in the family room, den or bedroom, which are places people will commonly choose to smoke. When smoking, always use a solid ashtray and never put your cigarette or cigar out in vegetation or anywhere else. Also, keep all smoking devices and lighters safely away from pets and children.
4) Space Heaters
Many people could not live without one of these. They make them in all sizes, some even small enough to sit on tables or desks, and all direct air though red-hot heated coils to warm the space around them. Unfortunately, these useful appliances are responsible for over 40 percent of all heating-related fires in the US, and their use and design have remained very static over the years. These fires are almost all caused by something being placed too close to the heating face or the unit tipping over-- make sure to place them only in open spaces and keep children and pets as far away as possible!
5) Lighting and Candles
These are another obvious cause of house fires during the winter, though should be mentioned again due to their widespread use. Lighting accounts for almost half of all Christmas tree fires (heaters and fireplaces making up a large portion of the other half) and candles commonly cause fires in every room of the house. You should always make sure to replace any damaged or old string lights, never use real candles to decorate your tree, and always try to not overload your outlets or power strips. Also, use LED lights when possible-- they use less energy and don't usually get as hot.
Bonus) Power Outages
As I've written about in past blogs, you are more likely to lose power in winter rather than summer. But did you also know that you're more likely to experience a fire during a power outage too? When the lights go out, candles and generators are commonly used, both of which can cause fires if not properly situated in your home. Even worse, if a power outage is severe and goes on for a long period of time, people are more likely to turn to alternative heating methods (like burning paper and wood in a container indoors) which in many cases can cause fire or smoke damage. Having a plan in place in case of power loss could greatly help you and your family this winter.
Pay attention to your heat and light sources this season to keep your home off the list of thousands of home that go up in flames each and every year. If you do experience a fire loss during the holidays or time after, don't forget to call in a professional like SERVPRO of Bend.
Watch Out for Oily Rags This Summer
This innocent rag could add much unneeded stress to your household projects this summer.
The higher temperatures and clear weather make for a great time to work around the house or in the yard. Among these common activities, re-staining a deck is certainly one of them. Both easy and cost-effective, staining a deck is a great way to add to the look of your new paint job or revive a decades-old deck that has been through one too many Central Oregon winters. But what if staining your deck could lead to you losing everything you own? It's possible-- and those oily rags you have piled nearby could be the unlikely culprit.
Oil-based stains are very common and can be found in thousands of stores across the country. Though something that is so common, and under normal circumstances very safe, can also become a massive fire danger if not stored properly while working outside. These oily rags can auto-ignite if they become too hot, leaving your deck and the home it's attached to in danger of going up in flames. To help you make sure this never happens, here is a list of things you can do to keep your outdoor staining projects safe this summer:
1)Never store oily rags in a pile.
2)Store the rags in an airtight, metal container.
3) Always read the manufactures warnings on the product itself.
4) If you must set a rag down, never let it sit too long.
5)For disposal, always contact your local waste management before simply throwing the rags away.
In this situation, as in many others, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Do not wait until you have experienced a fire to take these easy steps and continue to enjoy your summer free of fire!
6 Tips for Preventing Outdoor Fires
As summer approaches, people are spending more time outdoors in their yards. While enjoying the Central Oregon weather, this is a great opportunity to get rid of fire hazards outside your home and create a fire-safe space.
Here are some simple things that you can do that will greatly reduce the risk of fire around your home:
1.) Place your grill three feet from siding, deck railings, and overhanging branches.
Things like siding, deck railings and overhanging branches are fire hazards and should not be within a three foot vicinity of your grill. All it takes is a single spark for any of these things to catch fire.
2.) Keep fire pits, wood piles and propane tanks 5-30 feet from your home.
Fire pits, wood piles, and propane tanks are extremely flammable. You want to keep these a minimum of five feet (more if possible) from your home. This will provide a buffer zone between your the objects and your home if one were to catch fire.
3.) Only light a gas grill if the lid is open.
You want to make sure to always open the lid of the grill before lighting it. If you light it with the lid closed, this can create gas buildup that could cause an explosion.
4.) Trim any branches that are within 5 feet of your home.
It is a good rule of thumb to trim any branches that are within five feet of your home. This creates a buffer zone if one of the trees were to catch fire.
5.) Clear leaves and branches from roofs, gutters, porches and decks.
Leaves and branches are flammable, and you don't want them accumulating on your roofs, gutters, porches or decks. You should periodically clear these areas throughout the summer.
6.) Remove dead plants, leaves and branches within 10 feet of your home.
It is also good practice to remove any dead plants, leaves and branches within 10 feet of your home. This creates a defensible space from fires.
If you have any questions about fire damage or creating a defensible space, please do not hesitate to call the SERVPRO of Bend office at 541-385-7044.
U.S. Fire Administration
Tips for Building a Defensible Space from Wildfires
If you live in an area that is prone to wildfires, it's important to have a defensible space around your home. If done correctly, this space should slow or even halt the spread of a wildfire, protecting your home and family. To start, you want to break your defensible space up into two zones, Zone 1 and Zone 2.
Zone 1 should be a circle around your home extending 30 feet. In this area, you'll want to remove any dead vegetation, leaves and pine needles. You should also do your best to trim any overhanging branches that are within ten feet from your chimney.
Zone 2 should be a circle around your home extending 100 feet. The grass in this area show be mowed regularly to keep it 4 inches or shorter. You should also remove any fallen leaves, twigs, branches and pine cones. It is recommended that you don't have vegetation too close in this space either. There should be sufficient spacing both horizontally and vertically.
If you have any questions about fire damage or creating a defensible space, please do not hesitate to call the SERVPRO of Bend office at 541-385-7044.
5 Most Common Household Fire Hazards
The majority of house fires that occur in the United States are preventable. You can take some simple measures that will go a long ways in preventing house fires in your home.
Here are the five most common household fire hazards with tips on how to prevent them:
1.) The use of candles.
Poor judgment when using candles is one of the most common causes of house fires. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), there are an average of 25 candles fires per day.
If you use candles inside your home, there's a few simple preventative measures that you can take.
- Make sure that you put out any candles before going to sleep.
- Keep candles a minimum of one foot away from anything flammable.
- Use candle holders that are sturdy and won't tip over easily.
2.) Being negligent while cooking.
Cooking is the number one cause of household fires. When cooking, it's important to never leave food unattended. You should keep flammable objects, such as towels, oven mitts, hot pads and any wooden cooking utensils away from heat sources.
3.) The unsafe use of heating equipment.
According to the NFPA, space heaters account for over 30% of house fires and about 80% of all house fire deaths. Following a few rules of thumb can go a long way in preventing heating equipment fires in your home:
- Keep anything flammable a minimum of three feet away from any portable heating equipment.
- Turn off portable heaters before leaving a room or going to bed.
- Do NOT use your oven as a heater. This actually releases carbon monoxide, which is poisonous and can sometimes be fatal.
4.) Electrical equipment malfunctions.
Unfortunately, there's always the possibility for electrical equipment to malfunction. You should keep an eye on any electrical appliances that you use regularly for damaged cords. You should also make sure not to overload any outlets. Additionally, it may not be a bad idea to have an electrician do an annual checkup of your house's wiring.
5.) Failed dryer and washing machine maintenance.
Before using your dryer, make it a habit to clean your lint filter. This is a huge fire hazard that is often forgotten about. Additionally, you should periodically check the pipes for your washer and dryer and make sure they aren't restricted in any way.
If you have any questions about fire damage, smoke damage or making a fire escape plan, please do not hesitate to call the SERVPRO of Bend office at 541-385-7044.
5 Tips to Clean Your Dryer
Almost 3,000 dryer fires are reported each year in the United States. These fires are the cause of approximately five deaths, 100 injuries and $35 million in property loss damages. The leading cause of dryer fires is the failure to clean the dryer. Setting aside just a few minutes can reduce your risk of your dryer setting fire tremendously.
Here are some tips on how to clean your dryer properly:
1.) Clean your lint screen before every load of laundry.
Get in the habit of cleaning your lint screen before every load of laundry. Even if there's minimal lint on the screen, you should still clean it all off before starting each load of laundry.
2.) Make sure that your vent hose is in good condition.
Check your vent hose to make sure that it's in good condition and not crushed or bent. Ideally, you want to make the vent hose as short as possible to avoid this. If you have a white plastic vent hose, you should dispose of it and get an aluminum vent hose as soon as possible. These vent hoses are no longer allowed to be sold because they are a safety hazard.
3.) Clean your vent line on a regular basis.
You should regularly be checking your vent line to make sure there isn't any lint creating blockage (clogged lint is a big fire hazard). If you can't get the lint out yourself, you can call a professional to come in and clean it for you.
4.) Make sure that there's no lint inside your dryer.
You should also be checking the inside of your dryer for lint on a regular basis. Using a hand vacuum is a great way to clean lint out of the inside of your dryer.
5.) Keep the area surrounding your dryer free of any flammable materials.
If you do experience a dryer fire, you'll want to make sure that there isn't any fuel for the fire around your dryer. This includes clothing, cleaning products and boxes.
If you have any questions about fire or smoke damage, please do not hesitate to call the SERVPRO of Bend office at 541-385-7044.
U.S. Fire Administration
7 Tips To Use Fireworks Safely
The Fourth of July is a day to celebrate the independence of our great nation with tasty foods, family and friends. A common part of celebrating includes shooting off fireworks. Although fireworks can be very appealing to look at, they account for thousands of fires and injuries each year. A vast majority of these fireworks accidents occur on and around July 4th.
The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) reports that fireworks start an average of 18,500 fires annually. These fires cause an average of 3 deaths, 40 injuries and over $40 million in property damages each year. Over one-third of firework related injuries occur to children below the age of 15.
The NFPA advises against the use of consumer fireworks due to the large amount of fires and injuries they cause. However, if you, your friends or family are planning on using fireworks this holiday, it’s important that you understand the proper safety measures. There are many things that you can do to drastically reduce the chances of fireworks-related fires and injuries.
1.) Avoid buying fireworks packaged in brown paper.
Fireworks packaged in brown paper are made for professional displays. Due to this, it can be very dangerous when used by the average consumer. If you want to see these types fireworks, it’s best to go to your local professional firework display.
2.) Only use fireworks in a clear, open area.
Fireworks should only be used in clear, open areas. Make sure that there are not any buildings, vehicles or shrubbery nearby where you are lighting your fireworks. Additionally, avoid setting off fireworks next to dry brush or grass, as they are highly flammable.
3.) Back up a safe distance as soon as you ignite your fireworks.
It is recommended that you back up 15-25 feet after lighting “category 2” fireworks (most consumer fireworks are category 2 fireworks). You should always check to see what category your fireworks are before lighting them. Any fireworks above category 2 require a further distance after being lit and often additional safety measures.
4.) Make sure children are always supervised by an adult.
A large portion of fireworks-related injuries and fires occur from children below the age of 15. In many cases, this happens because there was no adult supervision present. It’s important that your children understand the proper safety precautions when using fireworks and that an adult is always there to monitor in case of an accident.
5.) Never point or throw fireworks at another person.
This may seem obvious, yet it happens more often than you would think. Pointing or throwing fireworks at someone can result in serious injury.
6.) Have a bucket of water or garden hose nearby.
It’s important that there is a bucket of water or garden hose nearby when using fireworks in case a fire is started. Since fires spread at such a rapid pace, it’s essential that they are put out quickly. Additionally, used fireworks should be doused in water before they are put in the trash.
7.) Never try to re-light or pick up fireworks that haven’t fully ignited.
You should never pick up a firework that hasn’t fully ignited. There’s a possibility that the firework will ignite and blow up in your hand and cause serious injury.
If you have any questions about fire or smoke damage, please do not hesitate to call the SERVPRO of Bend office at 541-385-7044.
National Fire Prevention Association
All Pro Dad
5 Things You Can Do To Prevent Kitchen Fires
Sadly, many house fires that occur are preventable. As reported by the United States Fire Administration, cooking fires are the leading cause of house fires in the United States with more than 188,000 recorded each year. These fires are the cause of an annual average of 195 deaths, 3,800 injuries, and $463 million in property damages. As a homeowner, taking preventative actions can greatly decrease the chances of a fire in your home.
1.) Test your smoke alarms.
Smoke detectors, like all technology, are fallible and require maintenance. The U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) recommends that homeowners test their smoke detectors at least once per month. It is also recommended that the batteries in the smoke detectors are replaced at least once or twice per year.
In order to test your smoke alarms, simply press and hold the "test" button located directly on the detector. As you hold your finger on the button, the siren will sound throughout your house. You should have a friend or family member stand as far away from the detector as possible to ensure that you can hear the alarm everywhere in the house. If they cannot hear the alarm, you’ll likely need additional detectors until the sirens reach all areas of the house.
2.) Don't leave hot cooking surfaces unattended.
Leaving hot cooking surfaces unattended accounts for approximately 40% of all cooking fires. If you have to leave the kitchen while you are cooking, you should turn off the oven or stove and remove any pots or pans from heated surfaces.
3.) Don't leave anything flammable near the stove or oven.
It is important that you don’t leave any flammable objects near your stove and oven while they are in use. This includes towels, oven mitts, cords, cookbooks and curtains. These objects can easily set fire if they accidentally are left too close to a burner.
4.) If you have children, create a child-free zone while cooking.
If you are cooking on the stove, use the back burners if possible. Additionally, make sure that any handles are turned toward the back of the stove.
5.) Close the oven door if your oven catches on fire.
A common misconception that people have is they should take matters into their own hands to put an oven fire out. In reality, if your oven catches fire the best thing that you can do is simply close the oven door. This will allow the fire to go out by itself and prevent it from spreading outside of your oven to the rest of your house.
If you have any questions about fire or smoke damage, please do not hesitate to call the SERVPRO of Bend office at 541-385-7044.
National Fire Protection Association
La Pine family escapes fire in manufactured home
A La Pine family and their pets fled their 40-year-old manufactured home unharmed on Saturday morning after a fire traced to recent electrical issues broke out in their dining room wall, officials said Sunday.
The La Pine Rural Fire District responded shortly before 10 a.m. to the reported possible structure fire with smoke in the 5200 block of Pine Forest Drive, Captain Fred Franklin said.
The occupants said one of the walls in the dining room of their 30-by-50-foot double-wide manufactured home felt hot and they noticed smoke coming from the wall.
Firefighters spotted glowing and light smoke coming from an exterior wall and made entry, finding an area about 1-by-2 feet burning near the floor and up the interior wall, Franklin said.
An investigation determined the fire originated inside the wall and was believed to be caused by faulty or overloaded electrical wiring.
The fire district official recommended addressing all electrical problems immediately, by calling a licensed electrician. If a house fire breaks out, Franklin said residents should immediately evacuate and close all exterior doors to limit the fire's growth.
Source: News Channel 21
Space Heater Safety
Safety is a top consideration when using space heaters. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that more than 25,000 residential fires every year are associated with the use of space heaters, resulting in more than 300 deaths. In addition, an estimated 6,000 people receive hospital emergency room care for burn injuries associated with contacting the hot surfaces of room heaters, mostly in non-fire situations.
When buying and installing a small space heater, follow these guidelines:
- Only purchase newer model heaters that have all of the current safety features. Make sure the heater carries the Underwriter's Laboratory (UL) label.
- Choose a thermostatically controlled heater, because they avoid the energy waste of overheating a room.
- Select a heater of the proper size for the room you wish to heat. Do not purchase oversized heaters. Most heaters come with a general sizing table.
- Locate the heater on a level surface away from foot traffic. Be especially careful to keep children and pets away from the heater.
If you have any questions about fire damage or smoke damage, give us a call at SERVPRO of Bend 541-385-7044.
Electrical Fire, Redmond Oregon
This home suffered an electrical fire in the garage, resulting in considerable damage to the garage and the contents inside.
SERVPRO of Bend was called out to assess the damage after the fire inspector released the site. The cause was a device that was plugged in to the wall of the garage, causing a spark in the electrical system which resulted in the fire.
SERVPRO of Bend's Fire team reviewed the loss and were able to salvage a multitude of contents that were otherwise considered a loss. The Fire team also were able to deodorize the whole house, which also suffered smoke and odor damage from the fire.
SERVPRO of Bend's structural team removed all of the affected materials and are in the process of rebuilding the garage for the home owner.
Fire - Historic House in Bend Oregon
This historical house in downtown Bend, Oregon had a fire that didn't cause a lot of fire damage due to it's quick containment. However, the house suffered a large amount of smoke damage due to the smoldering of older materials.
SERVPRO of Bend's fire team were called to assess the damage after the site had been released by the fire inspector. Upon further review of the site, the crew found it necessary to remove the lathe and plaster walls because the damage was so large. Upon removing the lathe and plaster, we found that the insulation had also been affected by the smoke. Further removal of the insulation was completed and the fire team was able to deodorize the site and remove the smoke odor
Kitchen fire damages SW Bend home
A kitchen fire caused about $5,000 damage at a southwest Bend home Tuesday afternoon, officials said.
Crews were called to the reported fire shortly before 5 p.m. in the 100 block of Southwest McKinley Avenue.
Crews arrived to find a fire on the stove, extending into the cabinets. They quickly put out the fire and overhauled the area to make sure there was no further extension.
The fire caused minor damage to the home, with some smoke throughout. Losses were estimated at $5,000 to the structure and $100 worth of contents.
The fire began on the stove top, as a container of cooking oil overheated and the vapors ignited.
The resident covered the burning oil with a lid to extinguish the fire, but it already had extended into the upper cabinet.
IT is recommended that residents cover a stove top fire with a lid, and never use water on an oil fire.
Bessie Butte Fire, Bend Oregon
Thank you to all the first responders who, on Sunday at around 1:00 PM were able to hold the fire lines on a wildfire that broke out near Bessie Butte. According to fire officials, the smoke plume wasd visible across the Bend area as winds pushed it to the south. A quick ground attack by fire teams enabled the fire to be encircled.
According to the Bureau of Land Management, the fire near China Hat road had burned about 50 acres in a mix of brush, grass and Ponderosa pine.
As of Monday, July 23, 2018 there were seven engines, one 20-person crew, a bulldozer, a water tender, two single-engine air tankers (SEAT planes) and an air tanker "hitting this one hard," officials said in a tweet. More crews were being called up as well.
Prescribed burns due south of Bend Thursday, Friday
On Thursday and Friday, firefighters are planning ignitions on the 121-acre South Bend 446 unit, located south of China Hat, about one mile south of the Back Nine Golf course and Woodside Ranch. On Friday, firefighters plan ignitions on South Bend 137. The 250-acre unit is adjacent to Lost Tracks Golf Course and will be visible from China Hat Road.
Burning in these units is designed to decrease hazardous fuels accumulations within the Wildland-Urban Interface near to the city of Bend and surrounding values at risk to reduce the risk of high-intensity wildfire, as well as reintroducing fire into a fire adapted ecosystem.
Due to the location of these units, the public could see smoke and drivers may experience smoke impacts on nearby highways and Forest roads. For all prescribed fires, signs will be posted on significant nearby Forest roads and state highways that could be impacted.
Madras, Oregon duplex deck fire traced to cigarettes
Neighbors, first fire crew stop blaze's spread
MADRAS, Ore. - A fire broke out Saturday morning on the deck of a Madras duplex and threatened to move into the home, fanned by high winds, but was stopped by neighbors and fire crews, officials said -- and was sparked by improperly extinguished cigarettes.
Jefferson County Fire District No. 1 crews arrived around 10:40 a.m. at the duplex in the 200 block of Northeast Ninth Street, finding neighbors putting out the blaze, as residents were not home, said fire Captain Kasey Skaar.
The first engine split its crew, with one crew to check the deck for extension into the duplex or adjacent unit and overhaul the burned area, Skaar said. The other crew gained access to the attic and found no extension into the area.
A second engine crew called to the scene was available for other calls. A total of three staff and nine volunteers were called out.
"Due to the high winds, the fire could have burned quickly and could have been much worse," Skaar said, thanking neighbors and fire crews for their quick response
Fire destroys Madras, Oregon mobile home; no injuries
MADRAS, Ore. - A fire destroyed a Madras mobile home early Friday, but the resident was away at work and there were no injuries, officials said.
Crews were called shortly after midnight to the reported fire in a single-wide mobile home at Tops Trailer Park at 23 Northwest Depot Road, Jefferson County Fire District No. 1 Captain Kasey Skaar said.
The first engine crew to arrive protected nearby homes and attacked the fire agressively, Saar said. A second engine crew soon arrived and helped with the effort, as well as salvage and overhaul. A total of 10 volunteers and three staff were called to the scene.
The home was a total loss, and the cause of the fire was not determined, Skaar said.
The American Red Cross sent disaster responders Friday to help the resident with resources for immediate basic needs, the agency said.
Home Fires Peak During Winter Months
Working smoke alarms cut the chances of dying in a house fire in half, and they are a family's first indication of a fire. But once that alarm sounds a fire can spread quickly, leaving only a minute or two to escape, according to the National Fire Protection Association. That's why it's so important to have an escape plan and practice it using different ways out of the house.
NSC provides the following tips to keep your home safe from fire:
- Install both types of smoke alarms (ionization and photoelectric) and carbon monoxide alarms; change the batteries at least once a year in these devices
- Plan – and practice – an escape route and agree on a meeting place outside of your home; be prepared to assist young children, family members with special needs and pets
- Know two ways out of every room in the home
- Learn how to use your fire extinguisher
- If your clothes catch on fire, stop, drop and roll
- When evacuating, if door handles are hot, pick an alternate route
- Leave your house and call for help; do not go back to help someone else
If you have questions about fire mitigation, please give SERVPRO of Bend a call at 541-385-7044. We have certified fire mitigation specialists on staff to help.
47% of reported home structure fires were caused by cooking.
According to the National Fire Protection Agencey (NFPA)
- In 2011-2015, U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated average of 170,200 home structure fires that involved cooking equipment per year. Almost half (47%) of reported home structure fires were caused by cooking.
- Ranges or cooktops, with or without ovens, accounted for the majority (62%) of home cooking fire incidents and even larger shares of civilian deaths (87%).Unattended cooking was by far the leading contributing factor in these fires and fire deaths.
- More than half (55%) of reported non-fatal home cooking fire injuries occurred when the victims tried to fight the fire themselves.
If you have questions about Fire Mitigation or Remodeling, call SERVPRO of Bend at 541-385-7044.
Importance Of Cleaning Your Dryer Vent
In 2010-2014, U.S. municipal fire departments responded to an estimated 15,970 home fires involving clothes dryers or washing machines each year. These fires resulted in annual losses estimated at 13 civilian deaths, 440 civilian injuries, and $238 million in direct property damage.
Facts and figures
- Clothes dryers accounted for 92% of the fires; washing machines 4%, and washer and dryer combinations accounted for 5%.
- The leading factor contributing to the ignition of home fires involving clothes dryers was failure to clean, accounting for one-third (33%) of dryer fires.
- A mechanical or electrical failure or malfunction was involved in the vast majority of home fires involving washing machines.
- Fires involving clothes dryers usually started with the ignition of something that was being dried or was a byproduct (such as lint) of drying, while washing machine fires usually involved the ignition of some part of the appliance.
ODF lifts regulated closure in Central Oregon
Over the last few weeks, cooler temperatures and increased precipitation has reduced the fire danger throughout lands protected by Oregon Department of Forestry in Central Oregon. Advertisement Advertisement
As a result of this reduced fire danger, the Regulated Closure in ODF’s Central Oregon District terminated at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday. These restrictions were in place to limit human-caused fires during high fire danger when rapid fire growth may occur.
While fire danger is reduced the potential for fires to burn uncontrolled or ignite due to carelessness remains, officials said.
Gordon Foster, Prineville Unit forester, reminded, “We need the public to maintain a high level of awareness and be vigilant in their prevention actions. The risk of fire is reduced, not eliminated.”
Fire season is still in effect for the Central Oregon District, restricting the use of tracer ammunition and exploding targets as well as other forestry activities.
Campfires are allowed on ODF-protected lands in Central Oregon. However, open burning in The Dalles Unit and Prineville-Sisters Unit require burn permits. This includes yard debris and burning forestry slash.
Never leave a fire unattended, whether a campfire or debris burn. To reduce the risk of an uncontrolled fire always clear the area around burn area, have tools handy, and follow all requirements on your permit.
Four Tips to Reduce Your House Fire Risk This Fall
Fall is a great time to start considering gearing up for the cooler weather. Warm sweaters, falling leaves, and a cozy fire. About the cozy fire...the American Red Cross finds that 7 people die in a home fire every day, while 36 suffer from injuries. And each year, $7 million in property damage occurs.
Here are 4 tips to reduce your house fire risk this fall.
1. Check your smoke alarm battery
Smoke alarms are easy to forget until they chirp in the middle of the night, but experts recommend you change your fire alarm batteries every year. Several years ago, the International Fire Chiefs Association launched a campaign called “Change Your Clock, Change Your Batteries™,” encouraging people to change their fire alarm batteries on the same day we switch to Daylight Saving Time in the fall. You could wait until then, but why not do it now while you’re tackling regular house maintenance?
2. Have a working fire extinguisher ready
Did you know your fire extinguisher could expire? It’s true, and you actually need to change it out every 5 to 15 years. That’s quite a variance, so one way to know whether yours is still in working order is to regularly check the pressure gauge to ensure the needle still falls within the green area. If not, it could be unreliable and should be replaced or checked. You can also have your extinguisher serviced and refilled by checking online for a center near you.
This is also a good time to review effective fire extinguisher use. The National Fire Prevention Association suggests you remember the word PASS to remind you how to use it:Pull the pin. Hold the extinguisher with the nozzle pointing away from you and release the locking mechanism.
Aim low. Point the extinguisher at the base of the fire.
Squeeze the lever slowly and evenly.
Sweep the nozzle from side to side.
3. Watch your candles
Yeah, we know — it’s pumpkin spice candle season. And having a house full of burning candles can feel inviting … until one causes a fire. It’s more common than you might think. In fact, the National Fire Prevention Association estimates that almost 10,000 home fires are caused by candles, with roughly one-third starting in bedrooms. This one is so easy to fix: never leave a candle unattended and be sure to extinguish all of them before you go to bed. And if you have any in the bathroom or kitchen, make sure you snuff them out too.
4. Don’t leave your pots unattended
Although it’s easy to picture candles or fireplaces causing most of the damage, the main cause of house fires is actually cooking. (As if we needed one more reason to turn to takeout!) But kitchen fires are not to be taken lightly. They often occur when pots are left unattended or on stoves with clutter (like wooden spoons or kitchen towels) that catch a spark. So clean your stove and keep all flammable items on another counter.
Now’s also a good time to make sure you’re covered with the right insurance.
If you need assistance or have any questions about Fire Damage Restoration, feel free to give us a call at SERVPRO of Bend, (541) 385-7044.
Time to Check Your Smoke Alarms
Spring is the perfect time to check your smoke alarm batteries.
In reported home fires in which the smoke alarms were present but did not operate, almost half (47%) of the smoke alarms had missing or disconnected batteries. Nuisance alarms were the leading reason for disconnected smoke alarms.
Test all smoke alarms at least once a month. Check your manufacturers web site to get more information on the proper testing and function of your smoke alarm.
Most smoke alarms have a test button so you can make sure that the smoke alarm battery is functioning.
There are two kinds of alarms. Ionization smoke alarms are quicker to warn about flaming fires. Photoelectric alarms are quicker to warn about smoldering fires. It is best to use of both types of alarms in the home.
For more information on smoke alarm safety, you can contact your local Fire Department or organizations such as the National Fire Prevention Association (nfpa.org)
Fire causes $50,000 damage to log home west of Bend
BEND, Ore. - A fire that broke out in the roof area of a two-story log home west of Bend Thursday evening caused about $50,000 damage before crews could stop it, officials said.
A passer-by noticed smoke coming from the roofline of the home in the 16000 block of Skyline Drive, said Deputy Fire Marshal Jeff Bond. He alerted the occupant, who was unaware of the problem.
Crews found the fire was in the roof structure, along the front eaves of the roof. Bond noted the home has a vaulted ceiling and no attic in that area.
Firefighters halted the spread of the fire, he said, but had to open up the roof structure to reach the deep-seated portion of the blaze. There was some smoke and water damage inside the home.
The exact cause of the fire was under investigation. Losses were estimated at $40,000 to the structure and $10,000 worth of contents.
Fire Prevention: Heating your Home or Business Safely
Winter in Central Oregon has finally arrived this week. Now is a great time to consider the safety tips that you could implement in your home or business to help prevent a fire.
Did you know that 32% of home heating fires are caused by space heaters? Also, more home fires occur during the winter months than any other time of the year. When using a space heater, make sure that it is in an area where there are no obstructions and loose, possibly flammable items are plenty of distance from the source of the heat.
The team at SERVPRO of Bend wish everyone a safe and warm winter season. Stay warm, but most importantly, stay safe.
SERVPRO Medford Donates FIT-5 Fire Knockdown Tool to Local Fire Department
MEDFORD, NEW YORK--(MARKET WIRE) -- City officials and fire professionals from the Medford Fire Department gathered at the Medford Fire Department this weekend, where SERVPRO of Medford, a leading franchisor in the cleanup and restoration industry, presented the FIT-5 to the Medford Fire Department.
After learning about the FIT-5 and its role in helping fire departments in the region save lives and properties, Dave Kluger, President of SERVPRO Medford, made the decision to donate a FIT-5 to equip his local fire department. "As a community based organization with national recognition, we feel it is our responsibility to support our neighborhood and our local fire departments," said Kluger. "We are pleased to contribute to our community's fire safety by donating a FIT-5 to the Medford Fire Department."
"We are very appreciative of this generous donation by SERVPRO," said Fire Chief Frank Rivera of Medford Fire Department. "From what I have heard the FIT-5 is a device that can be a tremendous asset to first responders; we are looking at purchasing more FIT-5's in 2009 to outfit our other vehicles."
Brian Lynch of US Fire Tech, the local ARA Authorized Dealer, was instrumental in working with SERVPRO of Medford on their donation. "It is great to see that local organizations like SERVPRO of Medford are playing an active role in supporting their local fire department," said Lynch. "I look forward to working with more community organizations across New York to keep our communities fire safe."
ARA Safety's FIT-5 is a hand-held fire suppression device that when deployed, emits a chemical aerosol to interrupt and knock down a fire. Through quick fire suppression, the device can reduce temperature from 1,000 degrees to less than 300 degrees Fahrenheit in less than 15 seconds, making interior attack safer for first responders.
After a Fire: Focusing on Indoor Air Quality
After a fire, there is a rush of activity in an effort to return the damaged spaces to pre-fire condition. Since fire and smoke leave such an extensive and complex mess, all the attention and effort naturally focus on removal of the fire and smoke contamination, cleaning the salvageable items, and eliminating smoke odors. However, there is another aspect that is often overlooked – the addition of new contaminants during the remediation and rebuilding process.
Air Purifiers (Gaseous)
Air cleanup can be the most challenging aspect of remediation. There are a number of technologies available; some are relatively harmless while others, such as oxidation techniques, have higher potential risk especially when used in-situ.
Oxidation technologies all operate in essentially the same way. They initiate a chemical reaction that converts hazardous and irritating chemicals to a less harmful form, eventually decomposing them to carbon dioxide and water. However, the oxidation process affects all chemical compounds, even those that are relatively benign, and it often produces intermediate chemicals that may be hazardous or irritating.
Ozone-producing machines to eliminate odors and reduce VOCs have been in use for a long time. In recent years, increasing evidence indicates that the unintended side effects of ozone use far outweigh its advantages.
Ozone is a big concern in outdoor air since it participates in many of the reactions that produce components of ground level smog. It is a powerful oxidizer, meaning it reacts quickly with a wide variety of chemical compounds. This property is what makes it effective in addressing odor problems. However, this effect is not limited to the air. It can also damage surfaces, especially materials like rubber and paint, and it can produce a host of secondary reaction products like formaldehyde that can pose a significant health concern. Ozone by itself is also a strong respiratory irritant. The potential hazards of ozone machines make it one of the more challenging technologies to use, requiring special care in its application.
Hydroxyl-based technologies also work by oxidizing materials, but it is a much milder process than ozone. Use of hydroxyl ion technology (e.g., photocatalytic oxidation) has been effective in converting compounds of concern to less hazardous chemicals without many of the concerns inherent with ozone. It does not typically cause a “weathering” effect, nor does it pose the level of potential health hazard that ozone does. Hydroxyl ions are generally considered safe to use since they perform the same air cleaning function naturally in outdoor air. Also, their life span is only a few seconds compared to the 24-48 hour life span of ozone, so hydroxyl ions do not build up in indoor air. However, this technology can produce secondary reaction products in the same way that ozone does, although typically at lower concentrations.
Cleaning Solutions & Solvents
The use of cleaning solutions is widespread in fire restoration, especially for porous items such as furniture, drapes, carpet, fabrics, etc. and semi-porous materials such as walls. These products contain powerful solvents that use a variety of chemical formulations, many of which are hazardous to use and can leave behind “toxic” traces. In addition to the solvents, many cleaning solutions contain additives that can be hazardous. These additives are used to adjust the viscosity, dispersal characteristics, increase shelf life, boost performance, cover unpleasant solvent odors, etc.
Thermal foggers generate ultra-fine thermally activated droplets that are picked up by porous materials similarly to how they adsorbed the smoke odors, closely duplicating what occurred during the fire. Cleaning and deodorizing solutions of various types are available that can be disseminated using this technology. The same concerns about residues exist with thermal foggers as with other cleaning solutions and solvents, as well as possible application specific problems.
Just as with any construction or renovation, replacements for non-salvageable building materials (e.g., flooring, drywall, paint, cabinetry, etc.) bring additional contaminants into the building. In combination with lingering fire and smoke residue and cleaning material remnants, new materials can add significantly to the indoor contaminant burden. There is also a risk of re-contamination if the cleanup is not completed before repairing the building structure and replacing furniture and personal items.
The Take Away …
As with all products and technologies, it is essential to understand the purpose and use of remediation products, as well as their applicability in different situations. Awareness of possible unintended side effects will substantially reduce the number and severity of post-remediation problems.
Fire Prevention - BBQ
When the warmer weather hits, there’s nothing better than the smell of food on the grill.
Three out of five households own a gas grill, which translates to a lot of tasty meals. But it also means there’s an increased risk of home fires.
Each year an average of 8,900 home fires are caused by grilling, and close to half of all injuries involving grills are due to thermal burns. While nearly half of the people who grill do it year-round, July is the peak month for grill fires followed by May, June and August.
Grilling by the numbers
- In 2014, 16,600 patients went to emergency rooms because of injuries involving grills
- July is the peak month for grill fires (17%), including both structure, outdoor or unclassified fires, followed by May, June and August
- A failure to clean the grill was the leading factor contributing to the fire in one –fifth of all grill structure fires (19%). In 17%, something that could catch fire was too close to the grill
- Leaks or breaks were the factor in 11% of grill structure fires and 23% of outside and unclassified grill fires
- Gas grills contribute to a higher number of home fires overall than their charcoal counterparts
Family Fire Escape Plan
In 2014, there were an estimated 367,500 reported home structure fires and 2,745 associated civilian deaths in the United States
Fire can spread rapidly through your home, leaving you as little as one or two minutes to escape safely once the alarm sounds. A closed door may slow the spread of smoke, heat and fire. Install smoke alarms in every sleeping room and outside each separate sleeping area. Install alarms on every level of the home. Smoke alarms should be interconnected. When one sounds, they all sound. Pull together everyone in your household and make a plan. Walk through your home and inspect all possible exits and escape routes. Households with children should consider drawing a floor plan of your home, marking two ways out of each room, including windows and doors. Also, mark the location of each smoke alarm