By Jamie Shelley
Given their size, commercial buildings require a quick response with a large crew of highly trained technicians after a fire has occurred. Even if sprinkler systems have done their job, the damage from soot and smoke is going to require much more effort than handing employees a sponge and a can of spray cleaner. Depending on the material that burned and the level of smoke and soot residue, there may be health issues as well. The closer any property is to the source of the fire, the quicker damage can happen.
Even a small facility needs a professional restoration team. Residue from soot and smoke quickly discolors plastic surfaces, and an immediate response is needed to prevent permanent damage. Denser surfaces, such as marble and metal countertops are more resistant to fire damage, but can still become permanently discolored if not cleaned promptly. In less than 72 hours, metal surfaces can become corroded beyond cleaning or repair as well as vinyl flooring.
If you have an employee area with open (ventilated) lockers, clothing inside quickly becomes unsalvageable. A fire damage restoration company has commercial washers that can recover some items, but they must be cleaned quickly. Upholstery, curtains, and drapes should be professionally cleaned in a week or less.
Depending on the extent of the damage, the fire department may not allow anyone to re-enter a facility for a week or more. This makes calling a restoration company in as soon as possible even more important. In as quickly as two weeks, restoration costs more than double. After this much exposure, even synthetic carpets will have to be replaced. Buildings with kitchens and cafeterias may have to replace much or all of their glassware and utensils. After two weeks, nearly any exposed items will have to be thrown out because of pitting and other damage.
Restoration firms have extensive experience with commercial fire damage. Many maintain a 24-hour response team to ensure that the cleanup process begins less than an hour after they arrive and does not end until you are satisfied.