I'VE HAD A FIRE... NOW WHAT?!?
We at the Yucca Fire District express our sincere sympathy for the loss that you have just experienced. We stand ready to assist you in any way possible in recovering from this tragedy, and returning to normal life. As you go through this process, if you should have any questions, or need our assistance, please feel free to call us at (928)766-2300, or come by the fire station at 12349 S Frontage Road.
To better help you to deal with this situation, we offer the following helpful suggestions:
IMMEDIATELY AFTER THE FIRE:
SEEK MEDICAL ATTENTION
If you or any other occupants have sustained injuries, including inhalation of any amount of smoke, seek immediate medical attention. In the stress and excitement of an emergency, it is easy to underestimate the severity of an injury sustained during a fire. Toxic materials present in almost all smoke can have serious yet delayed effects which may not be perceptible in the minutes and hours immediately following the event, but which can cause very serious health problems. Burns or cuts received during a fire can easily become infected if not properly treated soon after the injury occurs.
WATCH FOR HIDDEN HOT SPOTS
While we always try to make sure that every single spark and ember is completely extinguished, the nature of the fire often makes this difficult, if not even impossible. When any uncontrolled fire burns within a confined space, tremendous temperatures are generated, often more than 1,000° F, which can ignite hidden combustible materials far removed from the actual flames. Extreme air currents and pressures are also generated, driving smoke, heat and flame deep into concealed spaces. You may find that we have torn open seemingly undamaged walls and ceilings. Understand that we are attempting to ensure that the fire has not extended into these concealed spaces, where it could continue to burn.
Occasionally, despite our best efforts, hidden hot spots will remain, undetected, which can smolder unnoticed for hours, before beginning to generate either smoke or flame. For this reason, it is a good idea to have someone periodically check to see that no hot spots have begun to burn. If you detect any sign of a lingering fire, call 911 immediately, so that we may return and extinguish it quickly. Since a fire can spread rapidly through the now tinder-dry, pre-heated materials, it is important that these hot spots are extinguished very quickly once they are detected.
AGENCIES WHO CAN OFFER ASSISTANCE
If you believe that you will need assistance with food, clothing, or shelter due to your loss, it is best to contact the appropriate agency as soon as possible.
American Red Cross – 800.733.2767
Salvation Army – 928.680.3678
United Way – 928.753.6720
CONTACT YOUR INSURANCE COMPANY
It is important that you contact your insurance company as soon as possible, to seek their guidance in filing your claim, protecting your property from further damage, and cooperating with their efforts to investigate and process your claim. Most insurance companies now have 24-hour claims numbers so that they can be notified immediately following a loss. They may ask you to preserve certain items or materials for their examination and verification. Do not alter, destroy, or discard any items or materials before a representative from your insurance company has had an opportunity to inspect these items, in the condition and location left by the fire department after the fire.
In addition to the physical and emotional impact of a disaster, you may also face financial challenges in the days, weeks and even months or years ahead. Of course, ensuring your family’s physical safety is your priority. Afterward, you can begin to take these practical steps to recover your financial well-being.
- Contact your insurance agent, broker or insurance company as soon as you can to report how, when and where the damage occurred. Provide a general description of the damage.
- Prepare a list of damaged or lost items and provide receipts if possible. Consider photographing or videotaping the damage where it occurred for further documentation to support your claim.
- If possible, keep damaged items or portions of those items until the claims adjuster has visited your home. Do not throw away anything you plan to claim without discussing it with your adjuster first.
- Keep receipts for all additional expenses that you may incur such as lodging, repairs or other supplies.
- Make copies of all documents and pictures given to your claims adjuster or insurance company. Besides insurance, there are many questions related to taxes, expenses and determining just how you will recover from a personal financial point of view.
- Stop unnecessary expenses. For example, if your home is temporarily uninhabitable or destroyed, notify the utility company and other service companies, such as the phone company, so they can stop billing immediately.
- Estimate the amount of income and emergency savings you must pay bills while you recover from the disaster, then prioritize your bills. Paying your insurance premiums and rent or mortgage should be your top priority.
- Call any creditors and ask for more time to pay. Most creditors will be willing to work with you, especially if you notify them before a payment is due.
EXERCISE EXTREME CAUTION
Once a fire has occurred, the scene can present many hazards. Avoid entering the burned area unless necessary. Often nails, broken glass, and other damaged building materials have fallen to the floor and can puncture your shoes and feet, or cause other injuries. Structural members of the building may have been damaged, resulting in dangerous instability of walls, floors, and roof, which could collapse without warning, resulting in injury and/or entrapment. Occasionally, toxic materials have been involved in the fire, resulting in contamination of surfaces and possibly yielding harmful dust when disturbed.
SECURE THE PROPERTY AGAINST FURTHER DAMAGE
While it is desirable to not alter the scene until so directed by your insurance company, you should take efforts, where appropriate, to secure the property against further damage, either from the elements, or from unlawful entry. Further, it is important that your property not become a possible attraction for children who may enter out of curiosity, and sustain injury on your property. Specifically, efforts should be made to board up, or otherwise secure door or window openings, and close off any roof openings that may exist. When securing property, however, please keep in mind the need to monitor the property for several hours to guard against a rekindle of smoldering embers. For this reason, it may be desirable to have a trusted friend or neighbor remain with the property until further actions can be taken to begin the recovery effort.
CONTACT A FIRE DAMAGE RESTORATION CONTRACTOR
Generally, if the actual fire and heat damage was limited to only a portion of the home, many of the contents can be cleaned and/or repaired if addressed quickly. There are many professionals who are trained and equipped to provide restoration services specifically related to fire and smoke damage. You will find them listed in the Yellow Pages under "Fire (and Water) Damage Restoration." You may wish to hire a firm certified by the International Institute of Cleaning Restoration Certification (IICRC). These companies may coordinate with your insurance company to begin restoration soon after the loss. Because of the nature of the damage, it is often very important to begin restoration efforts very quickly after the damage has occurred to improve the chances of repair.
ON THE ROAD TO RECOVERY:
In the days following the fire you will be faced with several important issues that must be addressed:
- Notify your employer of the occurrence, and the impact it may have on your attendance at work.
- Notify your child's school. Even if the event will have no impact on your child's attendance, it may be helpful if your child's teacher is aware of the event and can provide support for your child if needed.
- If your house has sustained major damages, your utilities may have been cut off to avoid a hazardous condition. You should contact utility providers to notify them of the damage, and again once repairs have been effected to restore normal service:
Power: Unisource Energy - 877.837.4968 www.uesaz.com
Water: Yucca Water Association – 928.727.7511
Propane – Graves Propane – 888.568.2821 www.gravespropane.com
Ferrell Gas – 800.438.7192 www.ferrellgas.com
Telephone – Frontier Communications – 800.921.8101 www.frontier.com
Trash – Waste Management – 877.534.0386
Bulldog Disposal – 928.753.6786
- Notify your mortgage or finance company of damage to any financed vehicle(s) or property.
- If, due to the extent of damage, you are unable to stay in your home, you may wish to contact the U.S. Post Office and request a temporary change of address. You should also request a suspension of newspaper deliveries to your home.
- Businesses should contact any local, state, or federal regulatory agencies which license, inspect, or otherwise govern your business to ensure that you comply with all requirements for resuming normal operations.
Replacing Vital Documents Lost in the Disaster
- Driver's License - Department of Motor Vehicles
- Government Issued ID - Contact the issuing authority
- Insurance Policies - Your insurance agent or company
- Military Discharge - Department of Veterans Affairs, Papers 1-800-827-1000 or TDD/TTY 1-800-829-4833
- Passports - State Department—Passport Services
- Birth, Death, Marriage and Certificates - Bureau of Records in the appropriate state
- Social Security or Medicare Cards - Local Social Security office 1-800-772-1213 or TDD/TTY 1-800-325-0778
- Credit Cards - The issuing financial institution, as soon as possible
- Titles to Deeds - Records department of the area in which the property is located
- Stocks and Bonds - Issuing company or your broker
- Wills - Your attorney
- Income Tax Record - The IRS center where filed, your accountant or 1-800-829-1040
- Citizenship Papers - Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services, 1-800-375-5283
- Mortgage Papers - Lending Institution
We know that this incident represents a serious chapter in your life. As always, we at the Yucca Fire District stand ready to assist you in any way we can. If you need emergency assistance (fire, medical emergency, hazardous condition, etc.) dial 911. If you need fire safety advice, answers to related questions, copies of reports, or other non-emergency assistance, please call us at (928)766-2300, or come by the firehouse at 12349 S Frontage Road Yucca AZ 86438. The Yucca Fire District is a full time, professional fire department that remains always ready to meet the emergency response needs of the citizens of Milton. Our well-trained staff is on duty every day to serve you. We welcome and invite your questions and comments to help us better help you.