Recent Fire Damage Posts

Spontaneous combustion and your everyday products

8/22/2020 (Permalink)

Have you ever thought about how your everyday cleaning products can cause a fire? Spontaneous combustion, ever heard of it?

Wikipedia’s definition explains:

Spontaneous combustion or spontaneous ignition is a type of combustion which occurs by self-heating (increase in temperature due to exothermic internal reactions

*Exothermic reactions consist of releasing heat.

Here at SERVPRO of Gig Harbor/North Tacoma and SERVPRO of Mason County we have seen the effects of spontaneous combustion. Our fire crew has been on the frontlines after a fire had occurred from combustion.

Why does this happen?

You should know that when working with products that can cause spontaneous combustion.

When working with the following products: oil-based paints and stains, teak and linseed oils, varnishes and polyurethane, paint thinners, etc.

These are all products that can lead to a fire. Why and how? When heat has no way of escaping these oils when left in a heap can raise their own temperature. Heat needs to escape, but when its crumpled up it keeps all of that inside, leading to ignite the oils and resulting in a fire.

Here are some tips to avoid a spontaneous combustion:

  • When working with any of the above potential products that can lead to fire, keep a clean workspace. Yes, we understand after working on a project its easy to leave it as is and return the next day. But we strongly recommend cleaning up after yourself and keeping a clean work environment. The positive to this, you have a clean canvas to work with the next day on your project.
  • What to do with the rags? If you have rags that have been soiled with any of the above substances, you can lay the rags out on a concrete floor
  • Rags can go inside an airtight container: plastic, zip lock bag or a metal. The key is to make sure its airtight and fill the remaining space with water.

We hope we were able to provide light to what can cause a harmful danger to you. If you have any questions on how else we can help you in preventing fire damages, call our office today 253-851-6711.

SERVPRO fire technicians

6/24/2020 (Permalink)

Our fire technicians are trained in more than just fire restoration. We hire amazing employees who are great with fine details and great with people. We ensure our techs are trained in all facets of our line of work. SERVPRO fire technicians perform many jobs such as: fire restoration, odor removal, sanitation, bio hazard clean ups, upholstery cleanings, carpet cleanings, and general cleanings.

In the fire restoration side, we can provide restoration and fire damage removal. We can collect items that can be restored, our technicians will log each item and bring them to our shop. We look at each item and place within our ozone room. This room opens the pores in items and sucks the odor and smoke smell from your items. We also work with personal photos, family photos. Whatever is important to you is important to us.

SERVPRO of Gig Harbor/N. Tacoma is trained to perform sanitation, bio hazard clean ups. Anything from unexpected losses, murders, COVID precautionary and active clean up cases. Some cases of hoarders are similar to the above mentioned. Hoarder homes can have several concerns when it comes to cleaning or removing items within a hoarder home. Sanitary and safety for the occupants of the dwelling are things we look at and for when approaching a job like this.

Our technicians are happy to help you in any of the above instances, they are eager to get to work and provide top notch quality results. Here at SERVPRO we are proud to serve and provide a service that we can stand behind.

Fire contents and how we clean them

6/1/2020 (Permalink)

When it comes to content fire and water restoration you can count on SERVPRO of Gig Harbor/North Tacoma and SERVPRO of Mason County to make it "Like it never even happened." Here at SERVPRO we understand the importance and value of our customer’s belongings, which is why our trained professionals have a restore vs. replace mentality.

How are my contents processed?

  • When our technicians first arrive at a job site they make an inventory that contains pictures and a description on contents that can and cannot be restored.
  • Once all information is entered, organization is key to this next step. Our valued customer’s belongings are carefully and strategically packed into boxes. In order to make sure that kitchen items don’t mix with bathroom or bedroom content, the fire technicians label every box
  •  When the last box is packed and ready to go, we bring them back to our shop, where our technicians set the contents in a designated area.
  • Then, they unpack the items in an organized manner and start the cleaning process. Our trained professionals have the knowledge on how to clean different items and materials.
  • Making sure that every item is shining clean, they transfer items into an ozone room where odor is eliminated.
  • Lastly, the items are repackaged into new boxes. Our technicians always triple check that our customers’ items are properly cleaned and free of any odor before delivery. 

SERVPRO professionals understand how overwhelming fire and water damage can be, especially when it comes to valued contents. SERVPRO of Gig Harbor/North Tacoma and SERVPRO of Mason County are ready to help you in your times of need and make it "Like it never even happened."  

Content cleaning

4/27/2020 (Permalink)

When we receive a fire damage a large part of what we do is clean and restore the contents affected by that fire damage. That is if we can, sometimes some content is too far gone, and we cannot restore it.

When we arrive at the job, we begin to pack out the job, going room from room collecting, logging and creating an organized list of all the items we are bringing back to our shop. We have a special software that keeps individual objects logged and when we pack it up, if the customer should need us to retrieve a needed item, we can look at our log and find it quickly.

When the pack out arrives at our shop, we begin the work on cleaning content. We use special products, tools and techniques to look at each item and give it all the attention needed.

We also have a special room that can remove the odor.

If an item is too damaged from the fire, we will communicate this to the customer and insurance adjuster. The customer will let us know what our next step is.

We document our process for the insurance company and customer. From the very beginning to the end we take care of every job with special care and attention.

Our customers can rest knowing that their personal items are in our very capable hands. SERVPRO goes above and beyond to restore your personal belongings. We understand the sentimental and personal aspect of each item.

Fire and water

4/2/2020 (Permalink)

Fire and its heat can melt, burn, scorch, blacken, and damage almost anything it meets. During the warmer drier season’s fires are more likely to occur because the hotter temperatures dry out our grass, trees, etc. Fire can also be extremely hard to contain, predict and put out.

Water can eat away the hardest surfaces known to mankind. Tidal waves, tsunamis, hail, snow, freezing rain, etc. these are all forms of water within our atmosphere. Pressurized water can do substantial damage, picture a pressure washer. That water is forced out with great pressure to be able to remove residue, moss, dirt, etc.

What could happen if we put both powerful elements in the same room? What would this look like?

Take for example: a candle is left unattended. Jane Doe is burning a candle in her office during the day. She gets an emergency phone call and rushes out of the office but forgets to blow out the candle. The candle flickers and spurts off some its flame catching onto her files of work on her desk. The papers ignite rapidly, smoke pours throughout the office, the fire department makes it to the scene and drench out the flames.

The post fire picture: you must wait a certain period before entering the facility to ensure every ember is put out. Let’s say the fire didn’t do substantial damage to the entire building but maybe one office. For the fire to be put out either by extinguisher or water both materials can and will do damage to all content within that office. The building will have smoke damage, smoke is very potent, and the heat will open pores of the walls, furniture etc. When those pores close, they close all those harmful smoke particles within the pore.

Walls, carpet, ceiling, furniture, documentation/paperwork will all be affected. All the mentioned surfaces and materials will need to be cleaned, disposed of, sealed and properly treated by trained professionals.

Here at SERVPRO of Gig Harbor/North Tacoma and SERVPRO Mason County, our employees are trained and experienced to tackle any size loss. Any time of the day, and day of the week throughout the year we are here for you in your time of need.

Call our office today! 253-851-6711 or 360-427-9332

A frame homes and smoke damage

2/14/2020 (Permalink)

In my line of work we see smoke and fire damages frequently. At one point we had two jobs with the same style home, an A Frame. What’s an A Frame style home? Picture a capital A now put a door on it… and TA DA! That’s an A frame style home. Sometimes they are cabins and sometimes they are permanent homes. Not every home is a perfect layout, or can they be preventive of any type of damage.

Here are some things to be aware of with an A frame home:

  1. The roof can be an energy siphon if it is not properly insulated
  2. It is an expensive roof replacement
  3. Can be susceptible to termite damage due to the wooden framing
  4. They are not built to withstand strong winds

Let’s look at the above in a little more detail. Number one: it can be an energy siphon. What does this mean? When you need to heat your home, it could be a continuous stream of heat that escapes through the roof and walls. It’s escaping while your heating and paying more in your heating bill.

It can be a costly roof replacement when the time comes. Consider it, the roof doesn’t really expand in different directions, it juts down at a steep angle. This could take more time and care when the roofers are replacing it.

Termites. One of their food resources is wood. The A frame home is mainly constructed by wood. This could be a future problem if you’re A Frame isn’t taken good care of or if it is a vacation home and not occupied every day. Another reminder on how important it is to check the perimeter of your home monthly if not seasonally.

Up here in the Northwest, we are not always prepared for strong gusts of winds. Down in Southern California they have consistent Santa Ana winds and they can sustain those on a regular basis. In the Pacific Northwest we have dense tree coverage and when we get strong winds from Alaska, we suffer multiple power outages. I look at the A Frame home as two playing cards leaning against each other and if someone were to blow on them to see how long it would take for it to fall. The roof line is a large surface area for that wind to hit, meaning it could be a potential hazard to fall in on itself.

If you love an A Frame style home, here are some pro points for having one:

  • Steep sloped roofs make snow fall off easier for winter cabins
  • Affordable
  • They are quick to construct – they have prefabricated kits that you can build yourself
  • They are good for minimalists

Whether you are for or against an A Frame home you have some very handy information in case you should need to know. If ever you run into any structural damages; wind, snow, water, fire, etc. please call a SERVPRO of Gig Harbor/North Tacoma and SERVPRO of Mason County.

Burn bans and why we have them

8/21/2019 (Permalink)

Living in the northwest is beneficial for air quality and let’s face it, the greenness of our surroundings is breath taking. Growing up in Southern California I am not a stranger to smog or heat warnings. I miss the 90 degree weather and the sun, but I have grown to call Washington state home. I have always struggled with asthma, due to secondhand smoke, smog and mold within my home. A trifecta of worse case scenarios to live with. When we moved up to Washington, I was astonished that I didn’t need my inhaler daily. I didn’t struggle with shortness of breath or heavy chest pressure to breathe. We moved up in the summer, summertime in Southern California always seems to be ablaze. We have had to pack up a family members house with important valuables while viewing flames yards away from their house. Talk about terrifying. In southern California I don’t feel like the trees are as compacted as here. So, moving I may have been a little naive in wondering why burn bans are so heavily monitored. Then I looked around and realized the atmosphere is not prepared to handle ninety-degree summers, sure it remains lush and green, but the dryness is what will act like a reactor to any type of flame. Our amazing first responders are very serious about this, it’s important that they keep us aware and using safe practices. If you are ever unsure of when or if a burn ban is in effect, you can call 253-798-7278 or visit the website: co.pierce.wa.us

On this site it provides general information in regard to burn bans, such as tabs that include:

what can I burn?

Can I use a fire pit?

Can I use my grill?

Can I use fireworks?

With firepits, it walks you through fire pit regulations and how to comply with the proper installation or whether you can burn in your fire pit. It provides information on who regulates the outdoor burning.

Did you know there are two types of burn bans in Pierce County? Fire Safety burn ban and Air Quality Burn Ban.

As you scroll down this site also provides your local Fire Districts, the station number, their phone number and location. This is very helpful information to have.

Our first responders are amazing hard-working men and women and they do their very best to provide awareness and prevention. First responders work hard to prepare everyday citizens to make our emergencies a little more manageable.

Consider SERVPRO as your second first responder. We do our best to provide awareness and prevention to all who meet us. We don’t want you to have a disaster or damage. No one wants their lives, or homes to be turned upside down. That is why we do our best to provide you with the knowledge and tools to prevent them.

Be sure to thank a first responder today and let them know how much their hard work is appreciated. Don't forget to mind our burn ban regulations for the safety of you, your neighbors, and our first responders.

Smoke and the damage it can cause

2/22/2019 (Permalink)

Occasionally we get a request regarding smoke damage, this can include a multitude of categories, causes and effects. How so? Smoke from fires, stoves, candles, oil lamps, fire places, smoke from tobacco or cannabis, BBQ smoking, incense, and vehicle exhaust.

First, lets look at the explanation of smoke.

Smoke is a collection of airborne solid and liquid particulates also gases.

We had a smoke damage once that was caused in a garage. The homeowner had been smoking some salmon in his garage, and some interested critters got in and tipped over the smoker. Causing quite a mess and fire too.

Other smoke damages we frequent are landlords whose tenants have odor from tobacco or cannabis residue.  It’s amazing the damage these can do within your home. One of our employees is a rental owner and used our services to remove tobacco stains from the walls. Nicotine can leave an orange-ish brown residue to your walls, and other surfaces. It can be an easy clean up on some surfaces and others it requires a little more grunt work.

We’ve had a fire/smoke damage where the client had a basket weave to her head board and bedroom set. She also had respiratory problems, because of that basket weave we could not guarantee all the smoke or soot had been completely removed. We cleaned the bed set, we placed it in our ozone room to remove all odor, we cleaned it again. And the truth is, as many times as we could clean that with the smallest of surface areas, we could not guarantee that that set was going to be clean enough for her health.

Smoke produces an odor that like its residue, is not the easiest to remove. Odors take some time to remove and proper precautions need to be taken. All our techs have experience in removing smoke, odor and smoke residue. A homeowner can attempt this on their own but will not always end with the desired conclusion. Sometimes they can get lucky, but it truly is best to let the professionals take care of your smoke, or odor damage. The Removal process can be anywhere from a small to extensive process. Ranging from cleaning and taking contents to our shop for the ozone room. The next step would be to be sealing and painting the effected rooms. And the most extreme case is to dispose of the items, this would-be worst-case scenario and best for you and your family’s health.

Just remember as trained and certified professionals, there isn’t much we haven’t seen. Let us provide you with excellent service with great communication, customer friendly technicians and office staff, and a quick and speedy response and turn around. SERVPRO Gig Harbor/North Tacoma strives to make every experience one that is pleasant. Nobody wants to have their lives turned upside down, and nobody wants their lives turned around for an extended amount of time. If something isn’t right, we have amazing accountability. We want to make it right and WILL.

We don’t wish for damages, in fact SERVPRO understands how devastating it can be to have a disaster. We just want you to know that we are a trusted, local family operated business. Our goal is to get in and get out quickly and help you get back to life, we want your damage to be “Like it never even happened.”

Candle Safety

10/21/2017 (Permalink)

Cold weather seems to be looming over our heads, it came in like a bandit overnight and robbed us of our 100-degree weather. Granted we have had some beautiful sunny days, its been hard to adjust back to rain and cold, after what seemed to be the most brutal winters I’ve endured since living here.

What we tend to forget about are the dangers our wood fires, candles and fireplaces can pose during the colder months. These are things I gravitate towards when keeping our home warm and inviting during these gloomy winter months.

Did you know that 9,300 structural fires were started by candles in-between the years 2009-2013? This is based on stats here in the US, from fire departments.

9,300 structural fires resulted in: 86 deaths, 827 injuries, and over $370 million in property damages.

More than half of these reported home fires happened with combustible material(s) left too close to the candle. That’s 58%!

December is a peak time of year this occurs more. Think about it for a second, how many of us pull a Clark Griswald and try to put way too many lights into one outlet? Most of those decorations are highly flammable. Take extra care and precautions when decorating. Timers are a great way to monitor that energy output.

The above stats are things we tend to overlook, and the causes are results of pure absentmindedness on our part.

Wood stoves/Fireplaces- here are some of the dangers these pose and what to watch out for. Maintain and clean your chimney, keeping this clean will reduce chances of creosote. Creosote is the property that can cause fires from smoke build up.

Fire Logs- if you are a fan of burning these please read these tips. Always have a screen in front of your fireplace, these logs tend to ‘spit’ while burning. Fire logs are a petroleum based product, so water won’t work when trying to extinguish a fire that gets out of hand. It will in fact spread more quickly. IF a Fire Log were to get out of hand, be sure to keep a dry-chemical fire extinguisher or sand nearby. Yes, packaging will state that Fire Logs are “clean burning” they have had experience in creosote buildup in the flue. More so than burning wood.

Make sure your fireplace is inspected annually by a CSIA Certified Chimney Sweep

Candles- keeping candles in contained candle holders. Never leave a candle unattended, I am very guilty of this.

If you are one to forget, I think the safe bet is to not burn candles. Or if you have a special occasion, tea lights are great, they are small and fit into any kind of candle holder and their burning time is 3-4 hours. Votives last a little longer than that, and pillars are the long-lasting candles. Those are the ones I personally tend to forget about.

If this article has scared you out of using candles forever, there are awesome alternatives these days. Battery operated candles that look very realistic are great and easy to find.

With the holidays just around the corner, here at SERVPRO Gig Harbor/N. Tacoma we hope that this article can serve as a reference guide when warming your home for the winter. Getting those decorations out, we hope you have a new awareness of what is a hazard and what isn’t, that is our goal. At the end of the day it’s not fun to clean up fire damages, to see personal loss, especially during a time of year that brings so much joy and love.