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After a Fire

Why are there broken windows and doors, or holes in the roof?

Fire produces temperatures well over 1200 degrees Fahrenheit, along with smoke and hot gases. At times it is necessary to eliminate heat, smoke, and hot gas by ventilation before firefighters can enter to extinguish the fire. Ventilation must be done quickly to help reduce fire spread. Often firefighters must forcibly open walls and ceilings to find any "hidden" fires, allowing for complete fire extinguishment. 

After the fire is out, this type of damage may appear unnecessary. However, without the use of these firefighting techniques, extinguishing the fire would be much more difficult and smoke and fire damage would be more extensive.

Property Insurance

Contact your local company or agent as soon as possible. If you are renting or leasing the property, you must also contact the owner. Your insurance adjuster may be able to assist you in making immediate repairs or help to secure your home. If you are unable to contact your agent and need professional assistance in boarding up your home, a general contractor, or a fire damage restoration firm can help. Check the yellow pages. 

If your property is not insured or if your insurance will not cover all of your losses, contact your family lawyer for directions on what to do.

If you are unable to stay in your home...

  1. Remove as many valuables as possible. The home owner may temporarily be denied access to certain articles, areas, or the entire structure until the scene is studied and released by Saskatoon Fire Department. This does not imply suspicion, rather it is our policy to attempt to find the cause of all fires. Be sure to inventory what is removed.
  2. Check your residence for important legal documents which may have been damaged. Refer to the "Care of Documents and Books" section for more information.
  3. Contact the Saskatoon Police Service which will help keep an eye on the property during your absence.
  4. For those individuals in need, assistance from the Salvation Army is available. Temporary accommodations, emergency financial assistance and grocery assistance may be obtained. Call family services at 306-242-6833. The Catholic Women's League clothing department at 619 20th St. West has clothing and furniture for minimal cost to post-fire victims. Contact their office at 934-7016. The Canadian Red Cross also provides assistance to fire victims. Call 1-888-800-6493 within 72 hours of the fire. 
  5. Try to locate the following items to take with you: personal identification, eyeglasses, hearing aids, credit cards, chequebooks, insurance policies, jewelry, vital medicines, such as blood pressure regulating medications or insulin. *Please check with your doctor or pharmacist before taking any medication. If it was exposed to heat it may not be safe.
  6. If the building is structurally damaged and not habitable, a Building Inspector must be called (306-975-7924). After the building inspection is complete, a permit must be obtained prior to making repairs. 

  7. If you move: 

  • notify Canada Post
  • notify your bank
  • notify credit card companies
  • notify Revenue Branch for water connects/disconnects at 306-975-2400
  • notify Environmental Services at 306-975-2486
  • check with local school district
  • notify newspapers subscribed to

Utilities

Often Saskatoon Fire Department will have the utility services shut off or disconnected as a safety precaution and to prevent further damage to the structure and its contents. Below are procedures for re-establishing utility services.

Electricity

An Electrical Inspector must check the wiring to be sure it is safe before the power can be reconnected. Saskatoon Light & Power - 306-975-2400 or SaskPower - 306-310-2220. * Do not operate wet or damp appliances. Have a serviceman check them first.

Water

This utility may be turned back on by the resident. Use caution because the fire may have damaged the plumbing which may cause water damage to occur when the pipes are filled again. Revenue Branch (water connects/disconnects) - 306-975-2400

Gas

DO NOT turn the gas back on. A Gas Inspector must check the piping, etc. to be sure it is safe before you restart gas appliances. SaskEnergy 24-hour natural gas emergency - 1-888-700-0427 

Telephone

SaskTel Business Office - 1-800-727-5835
Shaw Home Phone - 306-664-2121

Counselling Support

After a fire, you may experience some of the following reactions: anxious feelings, depression, difficulty concentrating, sadness, anger, fatigue, hopelessness, irrational (unfounded) fears, and nightmares. These are common responses to a traumatic event. There are agencies in our area that can help you work through the crisis. Government of Saskatchewan Social Services offers 24 hour Mobile Crisis hotline at no charge and a referral service for counselling. Call 306-933-6200. If you are a member of a church congregation your parish priest or minister may also be of some assistance.

Care of Documents

Documents are very important to your well-being and can be damaged or destroyed as a result of a fire or other disaster. Locating these documents will speed up the process of recovering from a disaster.

  • Birth Certificates
  • Drivers License
  • Bank Books
  • Insurance Policies
  • Military Discharge Papers
  • Passports
  • Social Insurance Cards
  • Marriage Papers
  • Divorce Decree
  • Credit Cards
  • Title to Deeds
  • Stocks and Bonds
  • Wills
  • Medical Records
  • Payment Books
  • Warranties
  • Income Tax Records
  • Auto Registration
  • Citizenship Papers
  • Burial Contracts
  • Animal Registration
  • Death Certificates
  • Health Services Card
  • RSP Papers

It is wise to store all important documents in an approved container that is specifically designed for such purposes. (Fireproof container)

If paper documents are wet, freeze them immediately! When copies are needed, simply allow to thaw, lift off each page as it thaws, and photocopy. Contact any of the meat cutting firms listed in the yellow pages of the phone book for sharp (quick) freeze service.

Pets

After a fire strikes, don't assume that your pet has escaped unscathed just because it looks alright. Smoke can damage the lungs of a dog or cat in minutes, and sparks can cause painful burns that will stay hidden under the fur. As soon as possible, take your pet to a veterinarian. If your pet has been lost in the chaos contact the SPCA at 306-374-7387.

Salvage Hints

The following sections are designed to assist in the restoration of smoke and water damaged property.

Painted walls

To remove soot and smoke from walls, mix together: 4-6 tablespoons tri-sodium phosphate and 4.5 litres of water . The use of rubber gloves and goggles is suggested. Wash a small area at a time working from the floor up. Do ceilings last. Rinse thoroughly. Do not repaint until completely dry. It is advised that you use a smoke sealer (purchased in a paint store) before painting. Keep away from children and pets.

Wallpaper

  1. Heat and ventilate room for several days to dry the plaster and paper.
  2. If mildewed paper is washable, wipe it with cloth wrung out of thick soap suds. Rinse clean with clear water.
  3. Repast edges or loosened sections
  4. When washing wallpaper, work quickly so paper does not become soaked. Work from the bottom to the top to prevent streaking.

Floors

Use flax soap on wood and linoleum floors. It will require 4 or 5 applications. Then strip and rewax.

Wall-to-Wall Carpet

A wet/dry vacuum or water extractor carpet cleaning machine is good for the job. They can be rented at most supermarkets or drugstores and they will remove the standing water and dirt. Then add carpet cleaning detergent and clean the carpet as instructed on the machine. Rinse by using vinegar and water in the tank of the machine.

Rugs

Let rugs and carpets dry out thoroughly. Clean by sweeping or vacuuming. Shampoo with a commercial rug shampoo. Dry the rugs as quickly as possible by laying them flat and exposing them to warm, dry air. A fan will help. You can also contact any of the carpet cleaning firms in the yellow pages of the telephone directory.

Mildew

Mildew is a mold growth. If it is allowed to continue to grow it will weaken or rot fabrics. To remove mildew, wash stain with soap and water. Rinse well and allow to dry. If stain remains, use lemon juice and salt, or a solution of a tablespoon of perborate bleach to a pint of lukewarm water. Or dilute with a solution of household chlorine bleach. Test colored garments before using any treatment.

Upholstered Articles, Mattresses and Rugs

  1. Removed loose mold from surfaces by brushing with a broom. Do this outdoors to prevent a scattering of mildew spores.
  2. Vacuum surface to draw out more of the mould.
  3. Thoroughly dry by using an electric heater or fan to eliminate moist air.
  4. If mildew remains, sponge lightly with thick detergent suds using only the foam; wipe with a clean, damp cloth.
  5. If mould has grown into the inner part of an article, send to a reliable dry cleaner.

Removing White Spots on Furniture

  1. Rub with a cloth wrung out of turpentine or camphorated oil.
  2. Wipe dry at once and polish with wax or furniture polish.
  3. For deep spots, use a drop or two of ammonia on a damp cloth and polish.
  4. A dry mixture of vegetable oil and cigarette ashes rubbed in with fingertips is often effective.

Clothing With Soot and Smoke Odor

Test colored garments before using any treatment 

Smoke odor and soot can sometimes be washed from clothing. The following formula will often work for clothing that can be bleached:

  1. 4 to 6 teaspoons tri-sodium phosphate (from a paint store)
  2. 1 cup Lysol or any household chlorine bleach
  3. 4.5 litres of warm water
  4. Mix well, then add clothes, rinse with clean water, and dry well.

OR

  1. 1/2 cup ammonia to 9 litres of water. Rinse in vinegar (use rubber gloves).

Refrigerator and Freezer Odor

  • Defrost and wash all surfaces with water and dishwashing detergent. Rinse with two tablespoons baking soda per litre of water, and rerinse with clear water.

OR

  • Wash with solution of 1 cup vinegar to 4.5 litres of water

What To Do When A Freezer Stops

If your home freezer has stopped running, you can still save the frozen food by placing dry ice inside and keeping the freezer door closed.

*FOOD - IF IN DOUBT, THROW IT OUT!

Canned Foods, Medicines and Cosmetics

Do not use any canned foods where the can has bulged, is badly dented or has rusted. Discard medicines and cosmetics if contamination is suspected.

Cooking Utensils/Dishes

Your pots, pans, flatware, etc. should be washed with soapy water, rinsed and then polished with a finely powdered cleaner. You can polish copper and brass with special polish, salt sprinkled on a piece of lemon, or salt sprinkled on a cloth saturated with vinegar. Wash dishes in very hot, soapy water. Rinse in hot water. Dishwashers are excellent for cleaning dishes due to the high temperature of the water.

Most dishes can be soaked in a solution of 1 tablespoon of bleach to 4.5 litres of water for 30 minutes prior to washing.

Locks and Hinges

Locks (especially iron locks) should be taken apart, wiped with kerosene, and oiled. If locks cannot be removed, squirt machine oil through the bolt opening or keyhole and work the knob to distribute the oil. Hinges should also be thoroughly cleaned and oiled.

Replace air conditioner/heater fans.

Hazardous Materials

Hazardous materials which have been damaged by heat, smoke or contamination should be disposed of.

  • wear rubber gloves while handling hazardous materials

Contact: Environmental Services Branch 306-975-2486

Chemical Disposal 1-306-787-6113 (Ministry of Environment - Regina)

Charcoal

Caution: Charcoal briquets may spontaneously ignite when damp. They should be disposed of or stored in a non-combustible container with lid, away from other combustibles.

Disclaimer: "After the Fire" brochure was prepared by Saskatoon Fire Department as an aid to fire victims. There are no warranties made in connection with this publication and the City of Saskatoon shall not be held responsible for any damages (consequential, special or otherwise) arising from its use.