Fire Damage Restoration

Quick Summary

Fire damage restoration helps you get back on your feet after a fire. Fire restoration specialists will help you salvage your property and belongings by eliminating smoke, soot, water and odors from your home.

What Is Fire Damage Restoration?

Fire damage restoration is an emergency service that removes smoke, soot, ash and odors from your property and belongings after a fire. The goal of fire damage restoration is to help you salvage as many of your existing possessions as possible.

Fire restoration experts focus on removing contaminants and remediating smoke damage, allowing you to restore as much of your home as possible. They return your home to a safe, liveable condition, ensuring there are no lingering smells or health hazards.

Fire Damage Restoration vs. Fire Damage Repair

An important differentiation to make is that fire damage repair is not necessarily included as part of restoration services. Depending on the extent of the damage, property or belongings that are not salvageable will need to be repaired or replaced and require separate contractors and experts who specialize in building and construction. This can include things like damage to drywall or structural damage to the roof or framing.

Before a contractor can fix a fire damaged area of your home, restoration experts will need to:

  • Perform smoke damage cleanup
  • Rid the area of harmful contaminants
  • Remove standing water from fire suppression efforts

Not all restoration requires repair but repair always involves some level of restoration.

What’s Involved in Fire Damage Restoration?

Your home will endure numerous elements during a fire, including flames, smoke, ash and soot. If the fire department arrives, your home may be doused with over a thousand gallons of water every minute. These substances can be harmful on their own, but together, these firefighting efforts can cause significant property damage in a short period.

Fire restoration companies have to perform several tasks to help restore as much of your home as possible:

  • Determine which items are salvageable
  • Find a safe place to store salvaged belongings
  • Remove smoke odors
  • Eliminate any soot and ash
  • Restore water damage

Salvaging Items

As part of the fire damage restoration process, technicians try to save as many of your belongings as possible. Restoration experts will sort through the debris and determine what items can be salvaged. If the soot, smoke and odor can be removed from items, they will be saved. These items may be moved to a safer location, if necessary.

Fire restoration companies will also identify items that are beyond restoration. These are items that will still appear or smell damaged after restoration or may not be safe anymore. A good restoration company will let you know what items cannot be restored and offer to dispose of them on your behalf.

Removing Smoke Odors

After a fire is put out, smoke lingers behind. Smoke has a powerful ability to seep into a home, settling into your possessions with a distinct odor. If odor removal isn’t done properly, lingering fumes can lead to significant health problems over time.

Fire restoration specialists will remove the smoke from your belongings and eliminate any remaining odors. Air handlers and dehumidifiers circulate air, while specialized equipment targets odors. 

Thermal fogging and ozone generators may be used to remove any lasting odors in your home. With thermal fogging, heated fog permeates porous surfaces in your home, neutralizing the smell. Meanwhile, ozone generators treat objects with oxidizing agents that can effectively eliminate odors in textiles.

Some items, such as insulation, may still trap smoke and need to be replaced. The fire damage restoration company will let you know of any things that need to be entirely replaced during smoke restoration.

Eliminating Soot and Ash

You may be shocked by your home’s appearance after a fire. Soot and ash can cover your home and belongings in a thick, black coating that can make your home seem unrecognizable.

While you may be tempted to clean up soot and ash on your own, it’s a job best left to the professionals. 

Soot damage leaves behind an oily coating that can easily set into surfaces if it’s rubbed or pushed, causing further damage. Fire restoration experts use heavy-duty industrial vacuums to remove soot as efficiently as possible.

After the soot has been vacuumed, many surfaces will still need to be deep cleaned. Professional carpet cleaning and dry cleaning services can help eliminate any remaining soot in carpeting, upholstery and draperies that are salvageable.

Restoring Water Damage

Firefighting uses copious amounts of water, which seeps into your home after the fire has been put out. A fire may also cause a burst pipe, adding additional water to the scene in some cases. It’s crucial to remove any water from your home as quickly as possible, as water damage can lead to serious problems.

Water damage can weaken foundations and structural elements of your home, making it unsafe. Moist environments also allow mold, mildew, bacteria and pests to flourish.

Fire restoration contractors will use water restoration equipment, such as air movers and dehumidifiers, to dry out your home. If extensive water damage cleanup is required, you may need to hire a separate water damage restoration company, depending on the services that the fire restoration service offers.

What to Look for in a Fire Damage Restoration Service

Fire damage restoration can help you restore your home after a fire, but it requires the right professionals. The ideal fire restoration company understands your home’s sentimental value and will help you salvage your property while saving as many of your belongings as possible.

The best fire restoration professionals will:

  • Keep you and your family safe
  • Eliminate immediate hazards from your home during board-up
  • Take steps to prevent long-term health problems

Therefore, it’s critical that you hire the right people for your fire damage restoration services.

When hiring a company for fire restoration services, look for companies that are certified, experienced and capable of restoring your home.


Fire damage restoration companies must be licensed and certified by the Institute of Inspection Cleaning Restoration Certification (IICRC). This certification ensures the company has met specific restoration industry standards that are critical during the restoration process. For example, the IICRC sets standards for professional fire and smoke damage restoration and the restoration of fire and smoke damaged personal items.

Also, certified companies may be able to work directly with your insurance company. Working alongside policy providers streamlines the claim process and can ease your burden of paperwork and insurance claims.


You need to hire an experienced fire restoration company to ensure the job is done correctly. The expertise that comes with experience will allow the professional you hire to salvage as much of your property as possible.

Ask for testimonials and customer referrals to learn more about a prospective company’s experience. An experienced fire restoration company should be able to show you examples of past restoration projects to demonstrate their abilities.


The capabilities of fire restoration companies can vary significantly. Some companies focus on a single aspect of fire restoration, such as soot and smoke cleanup, while others off an all-in-one approach that includes repair and construction contracting.

The right company to hire may depend on your circumstance. For example, you may want to connect with fire and water damage restoration companies that offer both services if a pipe burst during the fire.

Learn about a company’s full range of services before hiring them to work on your home. Ask about their fire restoration process and take the time to understand what services are and are not included.

Finding Water and Fire Damage Restoration Near You

Following the correct fire damage cleanup process is important after your home has been impacted by a fire. Fortunately, capable professionals can help ease your burden, keep your family safe and ensure your home is properly restored after a fire.

Water Damage Advisor

The Water Damage Advisor content team is made up of multiple contributors, writers, and editors. We are your resource hub for anything related to water damage, mold and restoration needs that you may be challenged with facing.

6 References
  1. How Stuff Works. (2001). How Fire Engines Work. 
  2. U.S. Fire Administration. (2019). After the Fire. 
  3. Red Cross. Cleaning Up After A Fire. 
  4. Canadian Red Cross. Guide to Fire Recovery. 
  5. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. How Smoke from Fires Can Affect Your Health. 
  6. Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification. IIRC Standards. 
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