Fire damage repair should be done with foresight to prevent the recurrence of future fires. When a building is damaged by fire you need to rebuild, but you need to rebuild better then the original.
Fire Damage Repair & Restoration
Here are some tips of things to consider for your fire restoration job. Fire damage repair is not about building back what you had. Fire damage repair should be about building better then what you had so you do not have to worry about fire again.
Tips For Fire Damage Restoration
Fire Damage Repair
- Ensure Safety and Stability
- Identify What Stays and What Goes
- Fire Rated Construction
- Non Combustible Construction
- Fire Stopping
- Fire Alarm
- Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors
- Inspections and Supervision
Ensure Safety And Stability When Dealing With Fire Damage Repairs
If you own a building or home that sustained fire damage the first priority is safety. Nobody should get hurt or killed working on a building. Get a team together and have an architect, structural engineer, and contractor investigate the remaining structure for stability. Nobody should enter an unsafe structure. Safety comes first. You can rebuild a building you can’t rebuild a person. Make sure all the individuals involved are qualified, licensed, and insured professionals. Take all precautions necessary.
Identify What Fire Damaged Materials Stay and What Goes
Before the fire damage restoration can begin you need to identify what can stay and what must go. Some materials will need to be ripped out and some can remain if your team of professionals determines it is Okay. In some instances you may have to demolish the entire building. In other situations you can just remove the burnt materials.
Repair or Restore with Fire Rated Construction
Fire Damage Repair should start with proper fire rated construction. Fire rating is a term to identify the quality and type of materials you are building with in regards to their ability to withstand fire. Fire ratings are listed in time. For example a wall can have a 1 hour fire rating or a 2 hour fire rating and so on. The larger the hour the better the rating. Ratings do not go to materials they go to assemblies. Meaning a wall gets a fire rating not the individual components of a a wall. Fire ratings go to floors, walls, roofs, doors, shafts, etc…
When you rebuild you want to make sure you build to last and build to current codes. Remember the codes establish a minimum standard. That is not to say you can’t do better. We have often built buildings with higher fire ratings then required to ensure durability and safety.
Consider Noncombustible Construction For Fire Repair Jobs
Noncombustible is different from fire rated. This just means you are building with materials that do not burn and fuel a fire. A few examples of noncombustible structural materials are steel, concrete and cement blocks. Building with noncombustible materials can help prevent future fire damage.
Fire Stopping Is Essential For Preventing Fires From Spreading
Fire damage restoration and fire proofing should go hand in hand. Fire stopping is one of the most overlooked aspects of construction. So many contractors do not do it at all, and many do not even know what it is. Fire Stopping is essential and not to be taken lightly. Fire stopping is exactly what it sounds like. It is a a material designed to stop a fire from spreading. If there is a fire in the basement of a building the fire will spread upwards. The fire will find small holes and cracks to pass through quickly as it slowly burns the material around. Holes in floors or walls for pipes are a perfect place for fires to spread. All openings through fire rated construction need to be fire stopped. This is basically a fire rated caulking.
Many contractors use the wrong material for fire stopping. In New York City the Department OF Buildings requires a special inspection just for fire stopping to make sure the correct fire rated material is used and that it is installed properly and thoroughly.
Install Automatic Fire Sprinklers or Other Fire Suppression Systems
Fire sprinklers are meant to fight a fire in case of emergency. Certain building types will be required by code to have fire sprinklers. Some of our clients choose to put them in even if they are not required.
Install Fire Alarms
Fire alarms are mandatory in many building types. Always install fire alarms as per code regulations. You can also voluntarily install a fire alarm in your building even if it is not required. Check your local building code requirements.
Install Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors
Obviously smoke and carbon monoxide detectors should be installed as per code and in a generally intelligent manner. In New York City the code requires every bedroom to have a detector as well as one outside the bedrooms within 15 feet of the bedroom.
Thank You for reading our Blog Post on Fire Damage Repair
Please feel free to leave questions or comments below. If you want to speak with an architect about a specific project you can contact us directly.
This post was written by Jorge Fontan AIA a Registered Architect and owner of New York City architecture firm Fontan Architecture. Jorge Fontan has earned 3 degrees in the study of architecture including two degrees from the City University of New York and a Masters Degree in Advanced Architectural Design from Columbia University. Jorge has a background in construction and has been practicing architecture for 15 years where he has designed renovations and new developments of various building types.