And You Thought It Was Just A Fire
of smoke and fire damage is a very challenging trade. Every job
is unique in that each possesses distinct
characteristics and challenges. For starters, each aspect of a
fire creates a broad spectrum of variables that tests even the
best of mitigation companies, including:
- the source
of the fire
- the intensity
of the heat
- the combustion
- and the
physical design and arrangement of the structure
When a fire
breaks out, it immediately begins to change the environment of
the structure. When the fire has sufficient fuel and has an adequate
air supply, it consumes materials as it burns. The more flammable
the fuel source, the more complete the consumption of the fire.
Products of incomplete Combustion (PICs) are how professionals
refer to the soot, residues, and remains of materials that could
not be completely consumed by the fire. How much soot, how far
it spread and how deeply it has penetrated is controlled by a
number of factors.
HEAT is one
variable that can highly affect the way in which we mitigate the
damage. The higher the heat, in most cases, the higher the rate
of combustion and usually the richer the air was with oxygen during
the fire. These are often known as dry fires. The
products under combustion are more thoroughly consumed, and the
intense heat results in a high degree of conversion from solid
mass to energyhot gases. If the materials are natural
(wood, paper, cellulose, etc.), they are reduced to very dry soot
(mostly the element, carbon) that is actually easier
to remove than many other residues. The way these PICs are distributed
and deposited allows the mitigation technician to first collect
them with dry removal techniques such as vacuuming. Heat always
causes expansion. Even surfaces that you would think would be
easy to clean are now permeated with residues and odors.
environments allow for rapid combustion and high heat, consuming
materials rapidly. So, if the fire is not put out quickly, the
damage can be very devastating. Oxygen poor environments
are a different situation all together. In this instance, the
air does not have an unlimited oxygen source. Lets
suppose the fire was in a room that was isolated from the rest
of the house by a closed door. Once the fire begins to consume
materials in the room, it needs additional oxygen (air) to continue.
If the open flame cannot obtain more oxygen, it begins to lose
its ability to completely consume fuel sources. The result is
high percentage of Products of Incomplete Combustion. These are
much oilier and much more difficult to remove. If
the fuels being burned are not natural (i.e. plastics, etc.) then
you add additional PICs in very high volume. The end result is
a higher concentration of a smoke/soot residue. Because the temperature
may not be as high as an oxygen rich fire, the difficulty of removal
increases dramatically. We sometimes refer to these fires as wet
fires. The resulting PICs smear when you try to clean them,
and sealing before painting may be a required option.
during a fire is one of the most interesting aspects. Heat
moves toward cold. As areas begin to increase in temperature,
they seek out cooler rooms and spaces. Heat is moving toward lower
temperatures and seeking atmospheric equilibrium. Even if the
heating and air conditioning system is not operating, the smoke/soot
will still travel throughout the structure. High vapor pressure
will force the residues into areas often viewed as
begin sealed. It has even been found on items inside
of a freezer. As air circulates it carries PICs and odorcharged
molecules. This accounts for the need to clean and deodorize areas
that are some distance from the source of the fire.
combust they become charged. In areas of low circulation they
can form what is called soot tags. Customers are under
the impression that the smoke attached itself to spider webs they
had prior to the fire. Quite the contrary soot tags are
new, unique chains of soot that gather in areas of low concentration.
a fire also vary. When products in a fire burn, the odors join
the oxygen molecule in the air we breathe. Undoubtedly, PICs create
odor, but in some instances, the odor is quite strong even when
the PICs are hard to find. Consider for instance, the common I
left a turkey in the oven and went to the store fire. When
the occupants returned, the odor of the burnt turkey is everywhere
but there is very little soot. Here is the problem: the 20 pound
bird is now 3 pounds of ash!
Where did it go?
Even the clothes
in the back closets contain odors indicating that protein fires
are one of the most difficult to mitigate because of the pervasiveness
of the odor. All odors have a source. The mitigation company must
be persistent in seeking out all nooks and crannies to make sure
that all smoke is removed and all surfaces deodorized.
The very best
solution to these problems is to call a trained, professional
mitigation company to address these issues. They have the trained
personnel and the professional equipment and products to provide
excellent cleaning and odor control processes. Look for a professional
all of their work in accordance with industry standards.
- Uses only
professional equipment, products and tools.
- Has trained
and certified employees.
- Has full
- Has built-in
accountability (i.e. is a member of a franchise system,
or otherwise has a dedicated quality assurance support team.).
mitigation and restoration of a fire depends primarily on having
trained professionals to provide these services. Contact PuroClean
Home Rescue (866-722-7876) for 24/7 emergency service provided
by professional, well-trained technicians specializing in fire
and smoke-related property damages.