The National Fire Prevention Association reports that there are over 350,000 residential fires every year in the United States. While there are many steps that you can take to reduce your risk, such as having wiring inspected and getting your chimney and fireplace serviced regularly, no one is completely safe. Hopefully you will never have to deal with the aftermath of a fire, but if you do, it’s important to understand the process.

After the fire department and other emergency personnel leave, you are left with a home that needs to be restored. Larger fires can destroy much of the home, or even burn it beyond recognition. If you have a smaller fire, you may be able to recover by cleaning up the affected area. Some homeowners try to tackle this alone, but the results are usually better when you rely on a professional restoration service like RestorePro. You may be successful, but if it isn’t done properly you can have more problems than when you started. Keep these tips in mind when considering what to do after a fire.

Extinguisher Residue

Firefighting efforts might put out fires, but they leave a lot of mess behind. If fire extinguishers are used, it can be cleaned up with a HEPA vacuum. Do NOT use a regular household vacuum on fire extinguisher residue unless it is equipped with a HEPA filter. Surfaces like counters and floors can be wiped or mopped. If dry chemical extinguishers are used, metal surfaces are easily corroded so they should be cleaned first. Some older extinguishers used Halon, which leaves no visible residue but needs to be cleaned thoroughly. Even the insides of drawers and other hard-to-reach places should be cleaned to remove potentially toxic chemicals.


Most larger fires are extinguished with water. When these fires are put out, you are left with a mixture of soot, smoke, fire, and water damage. While the other types might be more visible, it is critical to take care of water damage right away. Untreated, moisture will lead to mold. Do NOT turn on fans, air conditioning, or other electric appliances until the property has been inspected. Once it is safe to do so, property restoration specialists use a combination of pumps, vacuums, dehumidifiers, air movers, and fans to remove as much water as possible and thoroughly dry all materials. Insufficient drying will lead to mold and further damage.


Soot can be dry or oily. The type of soot depends on the materials burned. You might have only one type, but you can also have both types in different areas or even mixed together. It probably isn’t surprising that dry soot is easier to clean. It can generally be wiped clean with a dry sponge or cloth. Large amounts can be vacuumed up using a HEPA vacuum. Do not use wet cleaners on dry soot. For oily soot, most household degreasers are insufficient. Professionals use industrial degreasing agents licensed by the EPA to make sure all of the residue is cleaned.


One of the last steps in fire damage restoration is getting rid of lasting odors. The smell of smoke can linger on long after the fire is out. It can be very difficult to get it out of the home. Commercial air scrubbers and other measures can get rid of any residual smoke smell.

If you experience a fire, call on the experts at RestorePro 1-800-847-0114. We can restore your home to pre-fire condition so that you can go on living.