On the 28th of November 2017, a deadly fire engulfed Gatlinburg, Tennessee. Thousands of acres were burned, including many in the iconic Great Smoky Mountains National Park. USA Today reported that approximately 2,460 structures (both homes and businesses) were either razed to the ground or suffered varying degrees of damage.
Many professional agencies were involved in the relief and rehabilitation efforts in Gatlinburg, helping with the cleaning of upholstery and carpets in many hotels around the area. Of course, we wouldn’t wish such devastation on our worst enemies. However, it is always better to be prepared for any eventuality and it can be handy to know how to restore a building after any fire or similar incident.
Cleaning Commercial Carpets after a Fire
Many entities do not know how to go about the cleaning process after a fire. Here are some major considerations that would give you an idea of how to go about your job. Answers to these questions should point you in the right direction.
1) How hard is the whole process of cleaning or repairing carpets and upholstery after damage from fire?
It all depends on the nature and magnitude of damage. For carpets or upholstery that has only suffered smoke damage, the cleaning procedure is quite simple. For damage that has come about from water, smoke, and debris, the process is a little more complicated. With regard to damage from heat and fire, there really isn’t much that can be done.
2) How to go about repairing a carpet that has suffered damage from fire and smoke?
Professionals clean, sanitize, and neutralize the damage suffered due to smoke and debris left behind by a fire.
First of all, the carpet and upholstery are sanitized with SaniClean. This procedure neutralizes the organics (bacteria and fungi) while taking out all debris and dirt stuck in the carpet fibre. After adequate dwell time, the cleaning solution will seep into the porous parts of the carpet such as the backing system, cushion, and other areas that are difficult to get to. As an extra consideration for our fragile environment, the chemicals that are used in preparing SaniClean are certified by the Green Seal.
The final thing to do is to get rid of the smoke odour by using professional Odor X – Fire & Flood which is chemically manufactured to neutralize all smoke and other odours in the carpets and upholstery.
3) What sort of damage leaves the carpet and upholstery useless and beyond repair?
Carpets and upholstery that have suffered physical damage from water, heat, or some chemical used to deal with the fire may not be repairable.
With regard to carpets, excess water will weaken the adhesives used in the carpet layers to hold it together. This extra water will also saturate the carpet padding which will render it pretty much useless.
High-intensity heat can cause irreversible damage to nylon fibres. Same goes for the padding and fibre in the upholstery. Many upholstered items have parts made of wood and metal which may suffer irreversible deterioration such as cosmetic damage, bowing, and other structural devastation.
4) How soon must the carpet be cleaned after damage from smoke or fire or water?
The first thing to do after a fire is to get the carpet dried out. The longer the carpet holds water within it, the more severe will be the deterioration to it and greater will be the danger of permanent damage. Once it has been fully dried out, the cleaning process should begin. Most probably, a restoration contractor will ensure proper drying out of the space.
5) What can be done in the immediate aftermath of a fire to minimize the damage from smoke or fire?
The best course of action would be to call a professional cleaning service right away. Most insurance companies also recommend some good restoration company if you do not have any on your radar.
With regard to the fire that engulfed the Great Smoky Mountains, professional care performed cleanup operations in three hotels that suffered smoke damage. We worked as a subcontractor with Belfor Restoration which is a major restoration contractor. They had been tasked with repairing the internal and external damage to each hotel.
None of these hotels suffered any permanent deterioration from the fire internally. However, each of them did suffer lots of destruction from the smoke. Thankfully, we were able to save all the carpeting as well as upholstered chairs.
Parting Note on the Fire in Gatlinburg
Whatever the magnitude and intensity of a fire may be, it is never a pleasant situation. We were shocked and overwhelmed after seeing the extent of the damage in Gatlinburg and the amount of work needed to get the community up on its feet again.
Our work enabled the three hotels to reopen for business relatively quickly and this is something we are incredibly proud to have contributed to. But what was really inspiring was the way in which people from across the length and breadth of the country came to the aid of victims in Gatlinburg.
Smoke can wreak havoc in any building, be it your home or office or factory. Particularly with regard to your home; kitchen flare-ups, electrical fires, and closed flue fireplaces can cause smoke to spread throughout the house. This smoke will then end up charring the walls, affecting just about anything in its path and leaving behind a horrible smell. The longer this smoke and its smell are allowed to linger, the deeper they will seep into your walls, furniture, and carpeting. So, take action straight away. However, make sure you have the right protective gear before delving into the work. Protective goggles, facemask, gloves, and respirator must be worn to prevent smoke particles from getting onto your skin and into your lungs.
Vacuum and Ventilate Thoroughly
When the fire has been put out, immediately ensure proper ventilation of the house to minimize potential damage from smoke.
Get rid of all heavily damaged items because there is nothing you can do about them. Then start the cleaning process covering every inch of the house.
Bring In the Professionals
If your home has suffered extensive damage from smoke or fire, then the best course of action might be to call a professional cleaning service that will help you get rid of all smoke and smell.
Fire and Smoke Remediation Company
Certified by the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning, and Restoration, these companies make use of ozone treatment and thermal fogging to remove all smells from difficult-to-reach areas. Ozone treatment makes use of an ozone generator to transfer an electrical current into the oxygen which deals with the smoky odour (costs $125 per day for 2,500 square feet). On the other hand, thermal fogging works on the molecular level and produces fine particles to reach the pores of affected materials (costs $125 per day for 2,500 square feet).
Always Preferred Restoration