Recent Fire Damage Posts

Halloween Fire Safety Tips

10/29/2020 (Permalink)

Whenever there's a reason to dress up at work, SERVPRO of Metro Pittsburgh East likes to really let it all out. It's not rare to see those of us here with devil horns or witch hats on as early as October 1. We don't fool around when there's any excuse for us to act a little "extra". Many of us here are currently decking our houses with massive lighting, animatronic corpses, fog machines, microphones, you name it, all in the spirit of the holiday. What does all of this need? Loads of energy and that kind of power, gone unchecked can cause massive power surges or even fires. If you're not careful, "Halloween Nightmares" could become an all too real thing, unlike the plastic animatronics and fake monsters. So, how do we prevent this?

  • Ditch the Harvest Crops

A common theme that many people can have when setting up their haunted houses is making it look a bit like a farmhouse. It's not uncommon to see dried out corn stalks, hay bales, or even just piles of wood sat out in front of people's houses. Generally speaking, leaving these things out around open flames or machines liable to cause fires, is not the greatest idea. 

  • Switch to Switches

Along with the previous statement. Who doesn't love a good jack-o-lantern. We sure do. Something to keep in mind is that most times, people will use open flames in jack-o-lanterns or in luminaries and this can be another huge fire hazard if you're not careful. We suggest switching these over to LED lights. They're reusable, safer, and come in a whole wide range of colors.

  • Keep An Eye on Your Costume

Another common problem is wardrobe malfunctions. Long draping sashes, Flowing Dresses, Acrylic hair pieces, bits of string, all of these things can get caught over an open flame, or stuck in some sort of machinery and cause some serious issues.

  • Always Check Your Equipment

We all might have that one person, maybe it's you, who decides to pull out some sort of heavy power tools or farm equipment and drop them in the front lawn. Always make sure to check your equipment before starting it up. Gas caps, saw blades, fuel lines, extension cords, make sure to practice proper safety if you decide to mess with heavy machinery on Halloween night.

  • Test Your Outlets

Especially those that are set outside exposed to the elements. We here at SERVPRO know a lot about "daisy-chaining" heavy loads of power and how to do it safely, it's part of the job, but it can get messy fast. Always make sure how much power you're putting in, and how much the outlet can take before you plug anything in, especially if your house looks like a death metal album cover.

Accident prevention is the key to making smart, calculated decisions that could cost you in the long run. We always strive to provide customers with solutions to everyday problems in hopes that they will never need our services again. We know how hard house fires can be for families and we will always be here to get people back on their feet in their time of need. If all else fails, remember, you can always call on your local SERVPRO for assistance.

Preventing Dryer Fires

9/21/2020 (Permalink)

Dryer Beyond cleaning out the lint filter before and after every use, there are several other steps that you can take to avoid a fire igniting.

It’s known that residential fires can be devastating, spreading to other areas of the home in the blink of an eye and inflicting serious damage in their wake. One cause of residential fires that may come as a surprise is your clothes dryer. Out of all residential fires that emanate from the laundry room, dryer fires count for an impressive 92%, according to the National Fire Protection Agency. We use our clothes dryers every day, so it is important to know how to prevent an unwanted fire in the laundry room. Let’s talk about what causes dryer fires so that you can use that information to keep your home safe.

Clean That Lint Filter!

The leading cause of dryer fires is not cleaning them, which is something that can easily be remedied. Every time that you use the dryer, lint accumulates in the lint trap, which in turn reduces airflow. Lint is highly flammable, so it is of the utmost importance that you clean the lint filter not once a week or even once every few days, but before and after every use. This simple action can make a huge difference in keeping your dryer working efficiently and decreasing the chances of a dryer fire.

Other Ways to Prevent Dryer Fires

Beyond cleaning out the lint filter before and after every use, there are several other steps that you can take to avoid a fire igniting.

  • Move Flammable Objects Away from the Dryer

Sometimes, the laundry room can become a storage area for household cleaning supplies and other flammable liquids. Be sure to keep these items away from the dryer in order to decrease the likelihood of a fire spreading quickly, should one ignite.

  • Pay Close Attention To Clothing Labels

Most fabric items, such as clothes, towels, and linens, include a tag that details specific directions for washing and drying. These drying directions can vary from “high heat” to “tumble dry low”. It is important to follow those instructions, as drying an item on “high heat” when it actually calls for “tumble dry low” could result in a fire.

  • Check the Outdoor Vent Flap

Clothes dryers have an outdoor vent flap, which enables hot air and lint to escape the unit. In order to prevent a fire, it is critical that the vent flap is not blocked by debris of any sort.

If Disaster Strikes…

Accidents happen. While dryer fires and any fire damage that they bring upon your home can be upsetting, remember that SERVPRO is always just a call away. Working quickly, our team of fire damage experts will restore your home, making your dryer fire “Like it never even happened.” Learn more about our residential fire damage services here and call SERVPRO of Metro Pittsburgh East for professional fire damage restoration today.

Teaming up with SERVPRO of Frederick County

8/12/2020 (Permalink)

Our parent franchise SERVPRO Hunt Valley & Harford County was sent to a major fire loss that demanded the creation of a roof in order to prevent any incoming storms from seeping through the remaining condos below. We are always looking for the right technologies to provide all our consumers with the finest quality of operation. 

For more information, and progress photos, check out our Facebook post!

"SERVPRO of Hunt Valley & Harford County, along with SERVPRO of Frederick County were recently called to mitigate a devastating condo fire. The roof of the 12 unit building was completely destroyed. Check out these pictures to see the installation progress on the temporary roof and shrink wrap installed last week. This will protect the condo units through the restoration process until a permanent roof can be rebuilt. Isais didn’t stand a chance."

Fire Up the Barbecue: Gas Grill Safety

6/5/2020 (Permalink)

Open topped grill with food ize that gas grills are a prominent fire hazard. It is estimated that an average of 8,900 home fires are the result of gas grills each year, according

The month of June is famous for backyard barbecues and cookouts. The grill is a staple for
these events and often, they are gas grills, which are usually powered by propane tanks or
cylinders. While grilling should be fun and enjoyable, it is important to recognize that gas grills are a prominent fire hazard. It is estimated that an average of 8,900 home fires are the result of gas grills each year, according to the National Fire Protection Association. By understanding
how to safely go about each step in the grilling process, you can minimize the risk of a fire
igniting while keeping your summer cookouts enjoyable and safe.


Using a Propane Cylinder Safely

It is important to check your propane cylinder for damage, such as rust or dents, prior to use. If
you find that the propane cylinder is damaged, refrain from using that particular cylinder.
Additionally, make sure that the propane cylinder is not overfilled before firing up the grill.
Maintaining a distance of at least 10 ft between the propane cylinder and any combustible items
is crucial at all times. It is also extremely unsafe for children to be within close proximity to the
propane cylinder while it is in use. When not in use, propane cylinders should never be stored
inside. Instead, they should be kept in an outdoor location with sufficient ventilation in an upright
position. However, they should not be kept beside or underneath the gas grill.


Gas Grill Safety

Before any kind of cookout, be sure to check your grill for gas leaks. In order to do this, spray a
soapy water solution on the grill fitting and turn on the gas. Bubbles forming on that line
indicates a leak. Another important step is to check the hose that runs from the propane cylinder to the grill for any holes, which may leak gas. Also, be sure to remove any blockages that you find in the grill, which can range from bugs to old food grease, before you use the grill. Make
certain that the grill is located on a level surface in a ventilated outdoor space and don’t leave
the grill unattended while grilling. At any point while grilling you begin to smell gas, evacuate the
area and call the fire department from a safe distance. In the event of an emergency, it may be
beneficial to have a fire extinguisher on hand.
Once you’re finished grilling and the food is smelling wonderful, don’t forget to completely close the valve of the propane cylinder and turn off the grill’s burner controls. Before placing a cover over the grill, make sure that it has thoroughly cooled down.


In the Event of a Fire…

Adhering to safe grilling practices can reduce the chances of the ignition of an unwanted fire,
but regardless of how careful you are, accidents cannot be completely voided. If your home has experienced fire damage due to a gas grill mishap, be sure to call SERVPRO. From fire damage to smoke and soot damage, our team of skilled fire damage specialists will speedily remediate the damage so that you can continue to enjoy your sizzling summer barbecues and cookouts
this June.

Home Cooking Fire Safety

2/19/2020 (Permalink)

Man surrounded by boxes Always abide by safe cooking practices.

Many people cook on regular, day-to-day basis in their homes. However, did you know that cooking accounts for the majority of household fires? While abstaining from cooking would effectively prevent such fires, that solution is simply unreasonable due to the importance of cooking in our daily lives. However, abiding by safe cooking practices can decrease the chances of an undesired fire igniting while cooking, thus saving your home from potential unwanted fire damage.

Before Cooking

Preparing the cooking space holds an incredible amount of importance in preventing an unwanted cooking fire. Make sure that any flammable items, such as paper towels, oven mitts, or wooden objects, are a safe distance from the cooking area. Because grease, oil, and food debris accumulate on cooking surfaces, including stove tops and the interiors of ovens, and such residue can easily ignite, it is crucial that cooking surfaces are cleaned prior to cooking. Not unlike cooking surfaces, pots and pans should also be cleaned before cooking, as grease and oil can build up on the insides and outsides, which can ignite while cooking.

While Cooking

Clearing the cooking space of flammable objects and wiping down cooking equipment are great preventative measures to take before cooking, but even so, many things can go wrong if you leave the kitchen unattended. Fires can start while food is cooking and if no one is present, the fire could grow quickly and become hazardous, as there would be no one present to smother the fire as soon as one ignites. Make sure to turn off the stove if you plan on leaving the kitchen while cooking in order to decrease this risk. In the event that you are cooking an item that must be roasted or baked for several hours, it would be unreasonable to attend to it the entire time that it is cooking. In this case, use a timer to make sure that you are checking on the cooking process regularly.

While taking preventative measures such as wiping down cooking equipment and never leaving items unattended while they are cooking lessen the chances of an unwanted fire igniting while cooking, emergencies can still occur. Having functional smoke alarms installed in your home and making sure that a fire extinguisher is always kept in your kitchen are two ways to protect your home in the event that a dangerous fire ignites while cooking. If a small fire ignites, it may be safe to smother it yourself, but if the fire grows quickly and becomes out of control, assistance may be needed. In this case, escape the house safely, make sure all other occupants have exited, and call 911. Once the fire has been put out safely, remember to call SERVPRO in order to make sure that any damage caused to your home by the fire is sufficiently repaired.

Preventing Fire Damage in the Home

2/10/2020 (Permalink)

Lit Match Fire Mitigation is important after you've experienced a devastating loss, however, knowing how to prevent it is incredibly valuable.

Preventing Fire Damage in Your Home

How Can Fires Start in Homes?

Several objects that are commonly found inside homes can cause fires including hair spray as well as other aerosol cans, shaving cream, hand sanitizer, and rubbing alcohol among others. It is necessary to be aware that these items are flammable in order to practice caution when handling them.

Electrical Dangers

Blown sockets as well as hot plugs and sockets can increase the risk of a fire igniting in the home. Flames can result from exploded wires that spark, however, a flame does not need to be present for there to be a chance of a fire starting.

Proceed With Caution When…

  1. Smoking Indoors

Careless smoking while indoors is the number one reason as to why fires start in homes, so extreme caution must be taken when smoking indoors. It is important to completely put out all cigarettes. Also, refrain from falling asleep with a cigarette still burning and using improper ashtrays.

  1. Burning Candles Indoors

While many of us burn candles inside regularly, it is still important to monitor them in order to protect against candle flames catching any other objects on fire. Candle flames can be blown by drafts such as those originating from open windows. If those drafts reach flammable objects, it can result in a larger and more dangerous fire. Also keep candles in proper candle holders in order to better constrict the flame.

Avoid These Combinations

Avoid placing certain household objects beside one another in order to decrease the risk of fire. Electrical appliances and water should not be placed within close proximity to one another, nor should grease be kept by an open flame or linens/clothes by a heater. Make sure to prevent flames from spreading to other objects from fireplaces by ensuring that it’s protected by a screen or glass doors.

5 Tips For Preventing Fires In Your Home

  1. Change out frayed wires for new ones
  2. Check the batteries in your smoke detectors every month
  3. Check heating devices in your home regularly
  4. Monitor objects placed on top of hot surfaces
  5. Store a fire extinguisher somewhere handy

Space Heater Safety

11/20/2019 (Permalink)

Flaming Sofas Dangers of plugged in Space Heaters

The ability to return to a cozy, heated home after spending time outside will become increasingly important as temperatures rapidly drop during November in Metro Pittsburgh East. While many homeowners utilize central heating systems to maintain warmth in their homes, many seek additional heat through space heaters. Creating a warm environment, space heaters can be helpful in heating a specific room, but space heaters do not come without safety risks. Space heaters caused an estimated 25,000 residential fires and 300 deaths each year, according to a 2013 study by The Consumer Product Safety Commission. While this statistic is alarming, your home’s individual risk can be decreased and your family can be kept safe with a thorough understanding of space heater safety.

Combustible objects, such as curtains, rugs, clothes, or paper can ignite if they come into contact with a space heater. To prevent a fire from starting, remember to always keep space heaters at least 3 feet away from combustible items while in use. Additionally, you should also be conscious of keeping your space heater situated on flat, level surfaces and away from major walkways in your home, as a fire could ignite if someone were to trip over the heater, knocking it over onto an object. Always be sure to check your space heater, including its cords and plug, for damage prior to usage. Damage increases the space heater’s risk of malfunctioning and creating a dangerous situation. Therefore, if you discover that the space heater has sustained any damage, do not use the unit. Finally, space heaters should never be left unattended during use. A nearby person could most likely detect a fire early on from the smoke smell and initial flames, which would decrease the chances of the fire spiraling out of control and protect the home from potential destruction. Therefore, it is imperative that you power down the space heater and unplug the unit before leaving the room.

Despite your best efforts to use space heaters safely, accidents can still happen. Taking precautions such as installing smoke detectors on every floor of your home can therefore serve as beneficial backup plans and help to protect your home from destruction. Lastly, if you have children or pets in your home, be sure to keep a watchful eye while a space heater is in use, as they could burn or injure themselves if they get too close. If your home sustains fire damage as a result of space heater usage this fall, you can count on SERVPRO for all of your restorative needs.

Fire Preparation

10/29/2019 (Permalink)

Kitchen fire in a two-bedroom apartment building.

Summer time brings so much joy to children. After a long school year they finally get to relax and unwind. To parents and baby sitters however it leaves free time. A few tips on having children prepared in case of a fire:

  • Teach your children what smoke alarms sound like and what to do when they hear one.

  • Ensure that all household members know two ways to escape from each room, and know the family meeting spot outside of your home.

  • Establish a family emergency communications plan and ensure that all household members know who to contact if they cannot find one another.

  • Practice escaping from your house at least twice a year.

  • Make sure everyone knows how to dial 9-1-1.

  • Teach household members how to stop, drop and roll in case their clothes were to catch on fire.


For more tips and recommendation’s contact us. If an unfortunate event happens remember we’re here to help, and make it, "Like it never even happened."

Promoting Fire Safety in the Workplace

10/22/2019 (Permalink)

Lutherville Charred Garage from a Fire Garage Fire

Promoting Fire Safety in the Workplace

   When it comes to home fire safety, many of know the basics: regularly testing smoke alarms, replacing batteries, and knowing the location of our fire extinguishers. Workplace fire safety, however, is a bit more of a grey area. However, informing employees of potential fire hazards, what to do if a fire ignites, and how to exit the office building can prove imperative in protecting your workplace from the potential consequences of a harmful fire.

   Taking preventative measures prior to a fire can decrease the probability of your workplace undergoing significant fire damage. Be on the lookout for damaged electrical appliances such as telephones, computers, and even desk lamps, as electrical complications can cause a fire to ignite. Upon discovering a faulty electrical appliance, remove it from the office space and replace it with a piece of equipment that functions properly. In addition, fires can also be prevented by informing office workers of how to properly utilize electrical equipment. Smoke alarms should also be installed throughout the workplace so that workers can be promptly alerted of a fire, allowing them enough time to escape the office. Just as you would in your home, check that the alarms are always working properly and regularly replace their batteries. These alarms should be dispersed throughout the workplace so that the alarm is audible to every employee, regardless of their location in the building.

   While it is important to take preventative measures, it is also crucial to have an emergency plan in place that can be implemented in the event of a fire. Employees should know the ins and outs of the plan, including which exit to use and where to meet outside of the building. If employees understand this plan prior to an emergency, exiting the building as efficiently as possible will be a more feasible task. Lastly, all employees should know the location of fire extinguishers in the office and be able to operate them in the event that they are faced with a fire.

   Taking preventative measures, always looking for fire safety hazards, and understanding the office’s emergency escape plan can protect your workplace from a potentially devastating fire.

Common Causes of Fires

10/16/2019 (Permalink)

Helping make fire damage, "like it never even happened."

The top 5 most common causes of house fires and safety tips:

  1. Candles

  • Never leave a candle burning near flammable items or in a child’s room.

  • Make sure candles fit securely into candleholders so they do not tip over.

  • Blow out any candles before leaving a room or going to sleep.

  1. Smoking

  • If you smoke, consider smoking outside.

  • Use wide, sturdy ashtrays to catch butts and ashes.

  • Look for cigarette butts under furniture and between seat cushions to make sure no lit butts have fallen someplace where they cannot be seen.

  • Do not smoke in bed, when you are tired or around medical oxygen.

  1. Electrical & Lighting
  • Do not overload outlets or electrical cords.

  • Make sure you have the right cord for the job. Inside cords for inside, heavy duty/outside cords for outdoor use.

  • Do not leave Christmas lights, Christmas trees, or halogen lights on overnight or when not at home.

  • Consider having an electrician perform an annual checkup of your home’s wiring.

  1. Dryers & Washing Machines

  • Clean the lint screen frequently and do not run the dryer without it.

  • For gas and propane dryers, make sure there are not any leaks in the lines.

  • Check the vent of the dryer, outside of the house and ensure nothing blocks the vent pipe.

  • Clean the vent pipe and the area where the screen is housed.

  • Keep the area around the dryer free of combustible materials.

  1. Lightning

  • Stay away from doors and windows during an electrical storm.

  • Do not use computers, TVs or other electrical equipment during storms.

  • Unplug major electronics: TVs, stereo equipment, computers and microwaves to minimize damage if there is a lightning strike close by.

  • Avoid plumbing such as sinks, baths and faucets during a thunderstorm.



The overall ideas are thanks to the National Fire Protection Association.

National Preparedness Month and Fire Prevention Week

10/9/2019 (Permalink)

This house fire required the staff to demo the inside of the house. Burned out lumber was replaced and cleaned. The structure was painted and rebuilt.

It is unfortunate that different types of disasters and emergencies happen in communities across the country, but there are key steps that every household can take to better prepare for them. If you do nothing else this month, take time to create a disaster plan including an emergency escape plan.

Make a clear plan of what to do in an emergency and in case of an evacuation. Identify clear roles for everyone in the house.

Discuss how to prepare and respond to emergencies that can happen at home, work and school.

Make a list of all the important things you may forget when in an emergency.

Have a disaster kit assembled for everyone in the house.

Have an out of the area emergency contact person noted. 

Practice evacuating your home twice a year, especially if you have kids or pets. This makes it a routine and can make a real emergency situation less stressful.

The Red Cross provides one of many helpful apps for phones and tablets to help with emergencies. 

http://www.redcross.org/get-help/prepare-for-emergencies/mobile-apps

Continuing Education Schedule

7/23/2019 (Permalink)

SERVPRO of Metro Pittsburgh is pleased to have the following continuing education schedule:

September 19, 2019 South Hills
Restorative Drying for Water Damage. 8:00 AM - 12:00 PM
Ethics 12:30 PM - 2:30 PM

October 15, 2019 Monroeville
Understanding the Restoration Industry - Property Fire Damage Restoration 8:00 AM - 12:00 PM
Biohazard Cleanup 12:30 PM - 2:30 PM

November 14, 2019 South Hills
Understanding the Restoration Industry - Property Fire Damage Restoration 8:00 AM - 12:00 PM
Biohazard Cleanup 12:30 PM - 2:30 PM

December 10, 2019 Monroeville
Understanding Mold in the Restoration Industry 8:00 AM - 12:00 PM
Mitigation Awareness and Response Seminar (MARS) 12:30 PM - 2:30 PM

All Monroeville Classes will be held at our office, located at 1951 Lincoln Highway, North Versailles PA 15137

All South Hills Classes will be held at the Spring Hills Suites, located at 611 Washington Road, Mount Lebanon PA 15228

Please call 412-825-5480 to register for any of these classes.

Your Home or Business Fire Exposure

5/6/2019 (Permalink)

No business owner wants to watch years of investment and effort go up in smoke. If your business, in Pittsburgh has gone through a fire, damage may be more extensive than you think.

A Fire May Touch All Parts of Your Business

Fires can be unbelievably destructive. Once smoke clears and fire crews leave, you may notice damage to all parts of your business. Damaged structures may include office buildings, warehouses, storage facilities and distribution centers. Further, inventory, office supplies, computers and equipment may sustain fire damage as well.

Fire Containment

The best way to limit damage during a business fire is to extinguish flames as quickly as possible. Even if your business did not turn into a raging inferno, you may have to deal with the messes water, fire retardant and smoke left behind. Fortunately, you probably do not have to figure out cleanup on your own. A professional restoration technician from a reputable service likely has the equipment and knowledge to assess damage and recommend a restoration strategy.

While all fires are different, many have the potential to cause serious damage to your business. You should have a plan.

Contact SERVPRO of Metro Pittsburgh East for help!

How Our Professional Services Can Restore Your Fire Damaged Property

12/26/2018 (Permalink)

Firefighter in front of flames Thank you to our firefighters.

When materials burn they release carbon in the form of smoke.

The Use Of Sand Blasting, Water Pressure, And Air Pressure In Removing Fire Damage

When materials burn they release carbon in the form of smoke. As smoke comes into contact with a surface, it deposits parts of that carbon in the form of residue on that surface. These residues typically account for the lion's share of cleaning duties when restoring property after a small kitchen or living room fire. Although these types of fire are usually easily contained the smoke, which travels into open oxygen pockets, can spread far and wide. However, smoke residues contain more than just carbon, which is why professional cleaning services are a wise choice in the aftermath of soot or smoke harm.

A trained technician should be able to recognize the different types of fire and property owners can benefit from this expertise.

At SERVPRO we have a range of different cleaning methods and techniques to tackle all damages. Synthetic materials, for example, can release carcinogens when burned. Likewise, differing temperatures, airflows and fabrics require a tailored cleaning response.

On arrival at your property, a SERVPRO technician can conduct a pre-test. This involves testing different areas of the property for the type of damage.

Wet-smoke, caused by burning synthetics, is particularly susceptible to wet cleaning methods. Dry smoke, on the other hand, may benefit from dry cleaning to avoid spreading smoke around and inadvertently causing further damages.

In fire fighting efforts, there is a high chance that water is used which can set soot and make it tricky to clean. One technique that can be used to tackle soot is water pressure and air pressure. These advanced techniques help to dislodge soot from the surface, which can then be washed away. If there is significant structural damage, we could use sandblasting to rapidly smooth the affected area and remove charring or ingrained soot.

As part of a franchise with access to national resources, SERVPRO can afford to train our technicians to the highest level. With expertise in odor control, certified by the IICRC, and industrial fogging equipment, we can help to remove the unpleasant burning odors that may remain long after a property is restored.

Winter Heating Hazards

11/26/2018 (Permalink)

Fireworks cause nearly 20,000 home fires each year. ?Source: NFPA.org.

Winter is the same anywhere you go, lower temperatures and shorter days. Often times we use alternative heat sources like fireplaces, portable space heaters, and wood burning stoves to make our homes cozy. Did you know that heating equipment is a leading cause of home fire deaths?

Keep the following safety tips in mind to help reduce your risk of a heating-related fire:

  • Keep anything flammable at least three feet away from heating equipment, like the furnace, fireplace, wood stove, or a portable space heater. Have a three foot "kid-free zone around open fires and space heaters.

  • Make sure the fireplace has a sturdy screen to stop sparks from flying into the room. Ashes should be cool before putting them in a metal container. Keep the container a safe distance away from your home.

  • Remember to turn portable heaters off when leaving the room or going to bed.

  • Always use the right kind of fuel, specified by the manufacturer, for fuel burning space heaters.

  • Have heating equipment and chimneys cleaned and inspected every year by a qualified professional.

  • Have a qualified professional install stationary space heating equipment, water heaters or central heating equipment according to the local codes and manufacturer's instructions.

  • Test smoke alarms monthly.

Fire Preparation

10/29/2018 (Permalink)

Kitchen fire in a two-bedroom apartment building.

Summer time brings so much joy to children. After a long school year they finally get to relax and unwind. To parents and baby sitters however it leaves free time. A few tips on having children prepared in case of a fire:

  • Teach your children what smoke alarms sound like and what to do when they hear one.

  • Ensure that all household members know two ways to escape from each room, and know the family meeting spot outside of your home.

  • Establish a family emergency communications plan and ensure that all household members know who to contact if they cannot find one another.

  • Practice escaping from your house at least twice a year.

  • Make sure everyone knows how to dial 9-1-1.

  • Teach household members how to stop, drop and roll in case their clothes were to catch on fire.


For more tips and recommendation’s contact us. If an unfortunate event happens remember we’re here to help, and make it, "Like it never even happened."

Common Causes of Fires

10/12/2018 (Permalink)

Helping make fire damage, "like it never even happened."

The top 5 most common causes of house fires and safety tips:

  1. Candles

  • Never leave a candle burning near flammable items or in a child’s room.

  • Make sure candles fit securely into candleholders so they do not tip over.

  • Blow out any candles before leaving a room or going to sleep.

  1. Smoking

  • If you smoke, consider smoking outside.

  • Use wide, sturdy ashtrays to catch butts and ashes.

  • Look for cigarette butts under furniture and between seat cushions to make sure no lit butts have fallen someplace where they cannot be seen.

  • Do not smoke in bed, when you are tired or around medical oxygen.

  1. Electrical & Lighting
  • Do not overload outlets or electrical cords.

  • Make sure you have the right cord for the job. Inside cords for inside, heavy duty/outside cords for outdoor use.

  • Do not leave Christmas lights, Christmas trees, or halogen lights on overnight or when not at home.

  • Consider having an electrician perform an annual checkup of your home’s wiring.

  1. Dryers & Washing Machines

  • Clean the lint screen frequently and do not run the dryer without it.

  • For gas and propane dryers, make sure there are not any leaks in the lines.

  • Check the vent of the dryer, outside of the house and ensure nothing blocks the vent pipe.

  • Clean the vent pipe and the area where the screen is housed.

  • Keep the area around the dryer free of combustible materials.

  1. Lightning

  • Stay away from doors and windows during an electrical storm.

  • Do not use computers, TVs or other electrical equipment during storms.

  • Unplug major electronics: TVs, stereo equipment, computers and microwaves to minimize damage if there is a lightning strike close by.

  • Avoid plumbing such as sinks, baths and faucets during a thunderstorm.



The overall ideas are thanks to the National Fire Protection Association.

National Preparedness Month and Fire Prevention Week

10/9/2018 (Permalink)

This house fire required the staff to demo the inside of the house. Burned out lumber was replaced and cleaned. The structure was painted and rebuilt.

It is unfortunate that different types of disasters and emergencies happen in communities across the country, but there are key steps that every household can take to better prepare for them. If you do nothing else this month, take time to create a disaster plan including an emergency escape plan.

Make a clear plan of what to do in an emergency and in case of an evacuation. Identify clear roles for everyone in the house.

Discuss how to prepare and respond to emergencies that can happen at home, work and school.

Make a list of all the important things you may forget when in an emergency.

Have a disaster kit assembled for everyone in the house.

Have an out of the area emergency contact person noted. 

Practice evacuating your home twice a year, especially if you have kids or pets. This makes it a routine and can make a real emergency situation less stressful.

The Red Cross provides one of many helpful apps for phones and tablets to help with emergencies. 

http://www.redcross.org/get-help/prepare-for-emergencies/mobile-apps

Steps To Clean Up a Fire

7/6/2018 (Permalink)

Our SERVPRO of Metro Pittsburgh East team has specialized fire restoration training needed to restore your home or business to pre-fire condition fast. To make it, "Like it never even happened."

The steps listed below illustrate how to approach “typical” fire damage that occurs:

1. Connect With Emergency Contact

2. Inspection and Fire Damage Assessment

3. Immediate Board-Up and Roof-Tarp Service

4. Water Removal and Drying (if water damage is present)

5. Removal of Smoke and Soot from All Surfaces

6. Cleaning and Sanitizing

7. Restoration

For more details on the proper steps to follow after a fire, check out the fire damage sections on our SERVPRO of Metro Pittsburgh East website. 

http://www.SERVPROmetropittsburgheast.com/fire-repair-process

http://www.SERVPROmetropittsburgheast.com/commercial-fire-damage

Smoke Alarm Safety

7/2/2018 (Permalink)

Research shows that when a smoke alarm sounds off in a household, that you have less than 2 minutes to get out of the house for safety. This means that families must have a very specific plan of action when it comes to fire safety. 

Smoke alarms need to be replaced every 10 years. The smoke alarm batteries (9-volt battery) needs to be replaced at least once per year. Although some smoke detectors are hard wired. Smoke alarms should be tested every month. 

Having a smoke alarm properly installed in your home can be the difference between life and death. Reports from the U.S. Fire Administration state that three out of five home fire deaths are a result of smoke alarms that do no work. 

There are a few additional tips beyond replacing smoke alarms every 10 years and batteries every year that each person should know. When discussing your evacuation with your family it is important to exit immediately. Smoke alarm placement is key. Be sure to have a smoke alarm inside and outside of any and all sleeping areas and bedrooms as well as installing alarms on every level of a home. It is best if the smoke alarms are interconnected. New versions of the smoke alarms contain carbon monoxide detectors as well. 

If you or a loved one has suffered from fire damage in your home, SERVPRO is here to help you recover from the tragedy. Contact our team of fire damage cleanup professionals to learn more about your restoration options today.

What to Do Before Help Arrives

12/18/2017 (Permalink)

SERVPRO of Metro Pittsburgh East is always here to help and we want to make sure that everyone stays educated so that way we can find ways to avoid home disasters. 

Here are some recent home fire facts to keep in mind when replacing smoke detectors and keeping our homes as safe as possible. 

  • Having a working smoke alarm can cut the risk of home fire deaths in half.
  • It's important to know the difference between hardwired and battery powered smoke detectors. Hardwired alarms operate 90% of the time and battery powered ones only work 84% of the time. Which is a pretty decent difference when it comes to a home fire.
  • According to a National Fire Prevention Week survey only 1/3 of Americans have both developed and practiced a home fire escape plan.

It is important to have a plan in motion. If you need help developing a fire escape plan SERVPRO would gladly help you along. Or you can visit www.nfpa.org for more information. 

Air Duct Cleaning

12/18/2017 (Permalink)

There are many reasons why your home could use an air duct cleaning.

Dust levels in homes increase due to dirty air ducts, this is one of the many ways that particulates can enter your home. Other ways are through cooking, cleaning, smoking or just moving around. There hasn't been and concrete evidence that household dust can pose different health risks but there are other things to be on the look out for that can be potentially dangerous. 

How to tell if you need to have your air ducts cleaned out:

  • There is substantial visible mold growth on ducts.
  • Ducts are infected with vermin (rodents or insects)
  • Ducts are clogged with excessive amounts of dust/debris

You may just want to consider air duct cleaning simply because it is logical that the air ducts will get dirty over time and occasionally need to be cleaned. 

Whether or not you decide to have your ducts cleaned, preventing dirt from entering the system is the most effective way to prevent any contamination from entering your home or business. 

Dealing With Fire Damage In Your Pittsburgh Area Home

12/18/2017 (Permalink)

Pittsburgh Properties: Post Fire & Smoke Damaging Occurrences

After a fire happens on your property, you may be anxious to clean things up right away and attempt to get started on your own. However, unless you have professional cleaning experience or gain advice from a cleaning expert, you may be wasting your effort, or cause even further damage. 
  
A properly trained restoration technician can help you determine whether the items that receive fire damage in your Pittsburgh home, are worth trying to restore, or if they need replacement. These professional fire restorers can provide you with recommendations that help prevent further damage and give you estimates on services for cleaning and deodorizing the entire affected area. 
  
Fire and water damage restoration companies, like SERVPRO, follow strict guidelines when providing repair and cleaning services in your home. They take the time to secure the area, prevent hazards, and help limit the damages that you experience during this type of disaster. Getting help is the best way for you to assist with recovering from accidents that occur on your property. 
  
SERVPRO offers a variety of services that includes the removal of soot and smoke residues that form on various surfaces throughout your home during a fire. Household textiles such as carpeting and draperies often require several attempts before cleaning and deodorization services are complete. Not doing so may cause odors to return. 
  
It is important to make quick, precise decisions when considering your options after an event happens in your home. Time is essential, making dealing with smoke odors in your clothing, furniture, and other household items critical to prevent odors from lingering for days, weeks, or even months. Having a professional restoration company helps get things under control quicker and removes these odors in a more efficient manner.  
  
SERVPRO technicians use industrial-grade water extraction equipment to remove water used during fire fighting efforts and have years of experience using cleaning methods to get the job done right. They are locally owned and operated, giving them the ability to provide you with what you need to get things back to normal fast. 
  
Contact SERVPRO of Metro Pittsburgh East for additional information about available services or help regarding a fire, water, storm, or mold situation happening in your home today at (412) 672-5400. 

Shadyside Properties Receive Smoke & Fire Damage Cleanup from SERVPRO

12/18/2017 (Permalink)

Your chimney and flue add architectural interest to your home, but the real function of your chimney is to take dangerous flue gasses from the wood stove, fireplace, or furnace out of your home safely. It helps the air in your household stay breathable, just like your windows in your kitchen vents, bathroom windows, and attic. However, unlike the other exhaust points in your home, wood stove and fireplace chimneys need a particular kind of care. 
 
In action, a chimney fire in your Pittsburgh home can be impressive and cause you to need fire damage repair from a professional remediation company such as SERVPRO. Indications there is a fire in your chimney includes plenty of dense smoke, a loud popping or cracking noise, and a hot, intense smell. 
 
Chimney fires can be dramatic and noisy enough to be detected by people passing by or your neighbors. Dense smoke or flames could shoot out from the top of the chimney. It has been reported by homeowners that they were startled by a low rumbling sound which is reminiscent of a low flying airplane or a freight train. 
 
Undetected Chimney Fires 
Chimney Fires which are slow-burning do not receive enough air or have the fuel to be visible or dramatic, and they many times go undetected until an inspection of the chimney later. However, very high temperatures are reached and can create as much damage to the chimney structure, and parts of the house close to it, as their more spectacular counterparts explosive fires.
 
Chimney Fires and Creosote 
Wood stoves and fireplaces are made to contain wood-fuel fires safely while heating your home. Chimneys have the job of getting rid of combustion by-products, which are the materials made from burning wood, including water vapor, smoke, gasses, wood particles that are unburned, tar fog, hydrocarbon, and different minerals. As these materials are rising and flow into the cooler chimney, condensation occurs. The residue which that is left sticks to the inside walls of the chimney and is known as creosote. 
 
Black or brown in appearance, creosote can be flakey and crust, shiny and hardened, or drippy and sticky. All forms can occur in a chimney. No matter the form it takes, creosote is very combustible, so if enough quantity builds up and the temperature of the inside of the flue is high enough, you could be dealing with a resulting chimney fire. 
 
When a fire in your chimney damages your home, SERVPRO is always ready to help you clean up the mess and repair the damage. Smoke and odor remediation and indoor air quality are focal points of a SERVPRO service. It is, however, important to have your chimney regularly cleaned to try and avoid this problem in the first place. 
 
SERVPRO of Metro Pittsburgh East and surrounding areas, knows how damage chimney fires can be to your home. Give them a call as soon as possible after the fire is out at (412) 672-5400, so they can prevent further damages from occurring. 

What Will Your Sign On the Door Read?

12/18/2017 (Permalink)

Information at Your Fingertips! 

I recently had a conversation with a maintenance manager, John. His office shares space with one of the buildings he manages.

 I asked, "John, what would happen to this facility if you were at one of your other locations and a emergency happened here?"

"Well, I would have to leave that site and travel here" he stated.

"But what if that building also had an emergency? Who would be able to get access to your mechanical room to get a situation under control?"

"Well, I have the keys. The managers all know to just call me."

"So you are managing a broken sprinkler line at site A and site B calls with a broken water line... What do you do" I asked.

John thought for a moment, I went on. 

"John, you like to fish. You are out on the river with no cell service. How are the people who depend on that space being usable to stay productive going to manage a emergency in your absence?"

His organization had stretched him too thin and had failed to develop contingency plans to help him manage emergencies remotely. His basement office housed the only emergency plans and blueprints for the facility he was in. His office was kept locked when he was not around. And, as you can guess, he had the keys on his person.

Luckily, SERVPRO has a Solution!

The SERVPRO Emergency Ready Program (ERP). A quick cloud based collection of need-to-know information to handle building emergencies. It's not as exhaustive as a complete risk management program, but it can serve as a great starting point to begin those emergency preparedness discussions with important information that key people at every site should know.

Make sure a primary employee at every site has keys to the mechanical room and knowing where the shut off values are.

In John's case it was a relatively painless fix. Every site now has another person with a set of keys to the mechanical room and that data is fed into the ERP cloud so every business in the building can access it. It was a time investment of less than two hours that almost certainly will save both time and money in an emergency.

The best part? John now has a plan to be able to prioritize his response and emergency needs. He also feels a little less worried when goes off grid.

For questions or to set up your no-cost Emergency Readiness Program, call 412-672-5400.

What To Do After a Fire

12/18/2017 (Permalink)

The first 48 hours after a fire damage can make the difference between restoring versus replacing your property and personal belongings. SERVPRO of Metro Pittsburgh provides timely response with mitigation services ranging from fire, smoke and soot removal to contents claims inventory and document restoration. These services help ensure your property, belongings and memories are restored to preloss condition when possible.

What You Can Do Until Help Arrives

  • Limit movement in the home to prevent soot particles from spreading and additional damage from occurring.
  • Place clean towels or old linens on rugs and high traffic areas and upholstery.
  • Coat chrome faucets, trim and appliances with petroleum jelly or oil.
  • Place aluminum foil or wood blocks between furniture legs and wet carpet.
  • Do not wash any walls or painted surfaces.
  • Do not shampoo carpet or upholstery.
  • Do not clean any electrical equipment.
  • Do not send clothing to a dry cleaner since improper cleaning may set smoke odor.

SERVPRO of Metro Pittsburgh is available 24-hours a day, 365 days a year to help you regain control quickly. Give us a call at 412-672-5400.

Holidays Spark Fires in the South Hills

12/18/2017 (Permalink)

Smoke residue comes in different varieties, and some are easier to clean than others. Dry, wet, protein and fuel oil smoke residues are all important to know how to remove. Take the guesswork out of cleaning and restoring your fire damaged property in South Knoxville by hiring our expertly trained technicians today. We're here to help you through the situation and return your property to its pre-damage condition. Our SERVPRO technicians understand that as a fire progresses through its stages, it can produce both wet and dry smoke. A different cleaning approach is needed to handle each type of residue left over by an event.

The smoke residue left behind depends on the rate of combustion, the amount of oxygen and kind of material or substance that burns throughout the entire fire. While we understand that if the event is fast-burning and oxygen-rich, it will produce dry smoke, while the fire is oxygen-starved, it will produce slow-burning, smoldering wet smoke. Natural Materials such as wood, paper, cork and other natural fibers create dry, small powdery residues that don't smear. However, synthetic materials like plastic and rubber often produce large easily-smeared particles.

SERVPRO technicians are trained to determine the conditions of a dry versus wet smoke event and apply the proper cleaning procedures to handle each particular situation.

Cleaning Dry Smoke Residues - These types of residues can be easier to clean. Dry smoke only contains a few aerosols that deposit small, dry particles on surface areas and usually don't stain as deeply as wet smoke. Meaning that the residues and odors left behind by dry smoke take less aggressive cleaning tactics to remove. However, dry smoke fires tend to burn hotter and therefore cause more heat damage than others do.

Cleaning Wet Smoke Residues - This type of residue consists of a large concentration of aerosols including varnishes, solvents, and other liquids. With these slow-burning fires, air currents aren't as high and give the wet smoke more time to creep into crevices and small enclosed areas that typically avoid damage in faster-burning fires.

We often run into circumstances at SERVPRO where many items exposed to wet smoke aren't restorable even though damage appears minimal. The aerosols end up penetrating surfaces and are absorbed into different materials, leaving large black particles behind and stripping stained finishes. Taking a minute to understand the possible reasons behind the causes of losing items in a fire is only one reason to hire us. We take a lot of pride in the work that we do for you and want to assist you during this trying time. Contact SERVPRO of Metro Pittsburgh East at (412) 672-5400. We work with your insurance company to restore your home back to it's prior condition! 

Facts about Home Fires and Smoke Alarms

12/18/2017 (Permalink)

SERVPRO of Metro Pittsburgh East is always here to help and we want to make sure that everyone stays educated so that way we can find ways to avoid home disasters. 

Here are some recent home fire facts to keep in mind when replacing smoke detectors and keeping our homes as safe as possible. 

  • Having a working smoke alarm can cut the risk of home fire deaths in half.
  • It's important to know the difference between hardwired and battery powered smoke detectors. Hardwired alarms operate 90% of the time and battery powered ones only work 84% of the time. Which is a pretty decent difference when it comes to a home fire.
  • According to a National Fire Prevention Week survey only 1/3 of Americans have both developed and practiced a home fire escape plan.

It is important to have a plan in motion. If you need help developing a fire escape plan SERVPRO would gladly help you along. Or you can visit www.nfpa.org for more information. 

Fire Safety Events

11/29/2017 (Permalink)

In a matter of minutes, a home emergency can become a catastrophic loss. An emergency such as a small kitchen fire can quickly turn into a blaze spreading rapidly throughout your home or business. Will you know? Will you be alerted of such a problem before it is too late?

It is these types of scenarios that many individuals hope to never have to experience and therefore, typically do not spend time thinking about, “what if?”

That is why during the month of October, Firefighters and their associated departments host open-houses and fire-safety events with the goal of educating the public about preparedness and what to do in case of an emergency. These open-houses are filled with fire-safety activities and take-homes for kids to constantly remind them of how important preparedness and safety are. Many of the fire companies will even help you to make sure your smoke detectors are in good working condition and if they are not, they will help you to replace them.

In October 2017, SERVPRO of Metro Pittsburgh proudly participated in three of their local fire companies’ open-house events. We were there to help educate about fire-safety and focus on the aftermath in the event of a fire. We spent time with members of our community as well as with many members of our local, volunteer fire departments. Each open-house was unique but the goal for all three was simple: be prepared!

Summer Grilling Safety in Pittsburgh, PA

6/28/2017 (Permalink)

#SERVPROsummerFACTS

Grill Safety to consider when breaking out your inner backyard culinary skills.

June and July are peak months for summer grilling fires.  The Memorial Day weekend is approaching quickly, it’s time to dust off the grills and let the inner backyard culinary skills to work.  As exciting as it is to break out the grill for the official start of the summer season right, we have to always consider the safety that needs to be taken when preparing to light up the grill.

NFPA (National Fire Protection Agency) says that the U.S. fire department responded to an average of 8,900 home fire that involved the use of grills, hibachis, or barbecues per year.  These 8,900 fires caused annual averages of 10 civilian deaths, 160 injuries, and $118 million in direct property damage. Almost all the losses resulted from structure fires. The leading causes of grill fires were a failure to properly cleaning of the grill, placement of the grill because it was placed to close to a structure, and leaving the grill unattended. Five out of six (83%) of grills involved in home fires were fueled by gas while 13% used other sources of fuel.

Precautions to take while grilling

Propane:

  • Stay alert when grilling. Avoid grilling when you are tired or have consumed too much alcohol.
  • Do Not leave your grill unattended.
  • Keep the grill in a place that is free from flammable items and away from porch rails, and low lying branches.
  • Keep children and pets as far away from the grill as possible
  • Check the gas tank hose for leaks before using it for the first time each year.

NOTE: A light soap and water solution applied to the hose is a great way to check for leaks. You can often smell a propane leak, but propane will also release bubbles when the soap and water solution is applied. If you detect a leak, turn the gas tank and grill off. If the leak stops, get the grill serviced by a professional before using it again. If the leak does not stop, call the fire department.

  • Always make sure your gas grill lid is open before igniting.
  • If you smell gas while cooking, immediately move away from the grill and call the fire department. Do not move the grill.
  • If the flames go out for any reason, turn the grill and gas off and wait at least 15 minutes before re-lighting it.
  • Keep your grill clean by regularly removing grease or fat buildup from the grates and trays below.

Charcoal grill safety tips to consider:

  • If you use a starter fluid, use only charcoal starter fluid. Never add charcoal fluid or any other flammable liquid to the flames.
  • Keep charcoal fluid out of the reach of children and away from heat sources.
  • Electric charcoal starters do not use fire. Be sure to use an extension cord for outdoor use.
  • When you are finished grilling, let the coals completely cool before disposing in a metal container with a lid.

What To Do After a Fire

6/28/2017 (Permalink)

The first 48 hours after a fire damage can make the difference between restoring versus replacing your property and personal belongings. SERVPRO of Metro Pittsburgh provides timely response with mitigation services ranging from fire, smoke and soot removal to contents claims inventory and document restoration. These services help ensure your property, belongings and memories are restored to preloss condition when possible.

What You Can Do Until Help Arrives

  • Limit movement in the home to prevent soot particles from spreading and additional damage from occurring.
  • Place clean towels or old linens on rugs and high traffic areas and upholstery.
  • Coat chrome faucets, trim and appliances with petroleum jelly or oil.
  • Place aluminum foil or wood blocks between furniture legs and wet carpet.
  • Do not wash any walls or painted surfaces.
  • Do not shampoo carpet or upholstery.
  • Do not clean any electrical equipment.
  • Do not send clothing to a dry cleaner since improper cleaning may set smoke odor.

SERVPRO of Metro Pittsburgh is available 24-hours a day, 365 days a year to help you regain control quickly. Give us a call at 412-528-5480

'Tis the Season for Fire Damages in Metro Pittsburgh

11/21/2016 (Permalink)

Don't let a fire ruin your holiday spirit- Call SERVPRO Metro Pitt to cleanup & restore.

Smoke residue comes in different varieties, and some are easier to clean than others. Dry, wet, protein and fuel oil smoke residues are all important to know how to remove. Take the guesswork out of cleaning and restoring your fire damaged property in South Knoxville by hiring our expertly trained technicians today. We're here to help you through the situation and return your property to its pre-damage condition. Our SERVPRO technicians understand that as a fire progresses through its stages, it can produce both wet and dry smoke. A different cleaning approach is needed to handle each type of residue left over by an event.

The smoke residue left behind depends on the rate of combustion, the amount of oxygen and kind of material or substance that burns throughout the entire fire. While we understand that if the event is fast-burning and oxygen-rich, it will produce dry smoke, while the fire is oxygen-starved, it will produce slow-burning, smoldering wet smoke. Natural Materials such as wood, paper, cork and other natural fibers create dry, small powdery residues that don't smear. However, synthetic materials like plastic and rubber often produce large easily-smeared particles.

SERVPRO technicians are trained to determine the conditions of a dry versus wet smoke event and apply the proper cleaning procedures to handle each particular situation.

Cleaning Dry Smoke Residues - These types of residues can be easier to clean. Dry smoke only contains a few aerosols that deposit small, dry particles on surface areas and usually don't stain as deeply as wet smoke. Meaning that the residues and odors left behind by dry smoke take less aggressive cleaning tactics to remove. However, dry smoke fires tend to burn hotter and therefore cause more heat damage than others do.

Cleaning Wet Smoke Residues - This type of residue consists of a large concentration of aerosols including varnishes, solvents, and other liquids. With these slow-burning fires, air currents aren't as high and give the wet smoke more time to creep into crevices and small enclosed areas that typically avoid damage in faster-burning fires.

We often run into circumstances at SERVPRO where many items exposed to wet smoke aren't restorable even though damage appears minimal. The aerosols end up penetrating surfaces and are absorbed into different materials, leaving large black particles behind and stripping stained finishes. Taking a minute to understand the possible reasons behind the causes of losing items in a fire is only one reason to hire us. We take a lot of pride in the work that we do for you and want to assist you during this trying time. Contact SERVPRO of Metro Pittsburgh (412) 672-5400 

13 Trends in the Restoration Industry

6/8/2016 (Permalink)

We find this an excellent article & have shared with many via email & our social media. Now we want to post it as a blog because it is great insight into our industry.

An article from "Restoration & Remediation" magazine, January 9, 2016

Written by Michelle Blevins and Michael A. Pinto, CSP, CM

National Credentials, Struggling Franchises, Bureaucracy, & more...

Think back through 2015. Can you think of any changes in the restoration and remediation industry? Yep, I bet you probably can. There were some major changes to mold remediation regulations in New York State, updates to the ANSI/IICRC S500 and S520 standards, we lost an industry pioneer with the passing of Marty King, and there were numerous changes and updates to available equipment, software, etc. It’s a list that goes on and on. Change is inevitable.

Now, look ahead into 2016 and beyond. Do you have any predictions of what may lie ahead?

Michael Pinto, CSP, CMP, has published more than 200 articles and several books on IAQ, mold remediation and other remediation-related topics. As the CEO of Wonder Makers Environmental, Pinto also serves on the board of directors for the Indoor Air Quality Association and Cleaning Industry Research Institute. Seriously, his credentials go on and on. When it comes to this industry, he knows his stuff.

In November, Pinto spoke at PLR Expo and shared these 13 predictions for the future of this industry. Just before his presentation, Mr. Pinto approached me and offered up this presentation (in article form) to R&R’s readers, if I did the writing! So, I’m honored to take on the task of putting his future outlook into words. What you read below is straight from him – just put to paper by me.

1. National Credentials for Restoration Work

This is happening on different levels, primarily in government. After every major disaster, talks start again about possibly requiring specific credentials for people working in disaster zones. It’s a slow process that’s been going on for 15-20 years both in government and industry. It did start getting some legs after Hurricane Katrina. In Louisiana, some state-required certifications were widely ignored to the point it drew attention from the governor who waived certain rules for 60 days.

With franchises and industry organizations growing, there is more and more talk of credentials like this, especially among emergency managers. Those managers understand the risk involved in not having a larger organization to draw upon for credible workers in case of a disaster.

On the flip side, there are arguments against these credentials. They could slow down response, and in an emergency could create violators out of competent restorers.

Incidents like the recent terror attack in Paris could also fuel the effort toward pre-screening responders for mass casualty events. Such pre-screening could include background checks, plus OSHA compliance. During TV news coverage of the Paris attacks, we witnessed some of the biological matter on the sidewalks and streets being simply hosed off into the drains. Is that really the best way to deal with a mass casualty scene? Putting proper procedures in place could be a good starting point.

2. Government Will Continue to Dabble with Licensing, but Slowly

There continues to be inconsistency with licensing for mold, lead, and asbestos remediation. Basically, licensing is being driven by money and statistics. What we’re finding out in many places is the promise doesn’t always live up to the reality. Government expects these programs to be self-funded through fees, but it doesn’t always work out that way. Virginia once had a mold licensing law, but repealed it after three years because it was difficult to sustain.

If the licensing route isn’t chosen, restoration contractors could be forced to work together to form some kind of training regimen, similar to what happened in British Columbia. (http://bcarc.ca/)

3. Bureaucracy Will Get Worse

It’s hard for a government agency to be focused on customer service and public service simultaneously. From a structural and attitude standpoint, bureaucracy is getting worse, not better, and more aggressive enforcement will be at the expense of real assistance. The whole idea of the bureaucracy becoming kinder, friendlier, gentler is not a reality at all.

This kind of attitude can mean documentation suddenly becomes more important and a bigger part of the focus than the actual process. All the ducks have to be in a row before you even dream about serving a customer. There seems to be more of a “gotcha” mentality where agencies make examples of some businesses that make a mistake, rather than fostering growth and learning within businesses and helping them succeed, while following the rules.

4. Insurance Industry Splits

Look for the insurance industry to continue to split. You’ve already seen this a little bit with treatment of preferred vendors. Some insurance companies are trying to “vertically integrate” by buying lumber yards, hygiene firms, creating their own restoration companies, etc. Their thought process is if they’re already insuring the risk then providing the payout, so they essentially want to own the whole process from top to bottom. It’s unclear how far this will get.

On the other hand, some insurance companies understand the liability of having preferred vendors. It’s the one out of 1,000 cases that goes wrong that draws the wrong kind of attention and liability. So, these insurance companies are thinking about softening the relationships they have with preferred vendors.

In fact, some insurance companies are tending to prefer to go back to the “olden days” where there were more personal relationships between insurers, vendors, adjusters, etc., because they see where there can be problems among bigger companies, such as liability and customer service.

5. Franchises May Struggle

There is a case that could very well make it to the U.S. Supreme Court in which the government is trying to redefine who are contractors, subcontractors, temps, who owns them, etc. The government is trying to say a franchisor is a co-employer with the franchisees. That iscompletely opposite to why we set up franchises! They are meant to help with overall business functions, marketing, tools, training, etc., but franchisees are still running their own business.

Should that ruling get upheld that franchisors are co-employers with franchisees, there will be a huge ripple effect through the entire industry. All of a sudden, becoming a franchisee has more risk and the corporate people have to have a lot more input. It would also mean, under the Federal Health Care Law, every employee beneath the franchisor be offered a certain level of insurance. It would not work for someone in Los Angeles to carry the same liability as someone in Terra Haute, Ind.

On the flip side, cooperatives (DKI, Contractor Connection, Code Blue, IMACC, etc.) could benefit. It will be much more far-fetched to say coops made up of a number of independent contractors are co-employers because they do not have some of the same legal and financial ties.

6. Growing Public Awareness

This is particularly in reference to growing environmental issues and awareness. Restoration contractors deal with hazards and contaminants all day. When you introduce new chemicals, technology, and other products as quickly as we do (especially on the home building side – new paints, flooring, etc.), we are adding a lot of things into buildings that weren’t there even five years ago. And truth be told, manufacturers don’t always know how these are going to react over time, or in a loss like a fire or flood. Now – all those items are in these homes, and the restoration industry comes in with their new chemicals and machines to remediate. How do we know what’s really happening when all the chemicals and materials mix?

Have you heard the term WDB for Water Damaged Building? It’s a term growing in popularity as we learn there is a lot more going on in a WDB than just mold. We’ll talk more about this a little further in just a moment.

7. A Tighter Connection

There is a growing tie between medicine and the environment. Restorers and other professionals are increasingly aware about caring for “sensitized individuals.” Years ago, I (Michael Pinto) said there was too much anecdotal evidence of people getting sick after being in a mold-contaminated building for doctors to deny the problem, even if they don’t yet know the causative factors. Once they figure out a treatment drug and big pharma is involved, this will take off.

Today, there are symptoms, causes, and prescriptions for people sensitive to mold. Plus, we have discovered a genetic component that makes some people more sensitive to mold than others, and the naming of a related illness: CIRS. There is even a $15 non-invasive screening test for people to see if they’ve been exposed to mold.

There is also the Environmental Relative Moldiness Index, which analyzes dust samples for 26 different species of mold. Two-thirds of those species are considered to be indicators of water damage. Plus, the EPA has created a comparison chart to identify a WDB. (http://www.epa.gov/mold)

All of this could trigger permissible exposure limits. Technology is already catching up with the computerized Mold Propensity Index. For about $200, it provides remediation recommendations for a mold contaminated home.

8. A More Active Justice System

Just look at all the points above! There are a number of legal hazards out there – including mold, lead, water damage, and infectious diseases. We can expect similar results compared to how lawsuits from asbestos exposure have skyrocketed in recent decades.

9. Continued Bleed-Over of Technology

There is a lot more cross-over between industries. Technology and chemicals are finding numerous uses, often traveling from the health care industry to remediation and into restoration. For example, look at how foamers started in the agricultural industry and traveled to food service, then remediation, then restoration, then health care. Similarly, surface sanitizers went from health care to remediation to use with sensitized individuals.

It’s also important to note the use of hydroxyl generators in a variety of situations, and some remediators opting for different techniques with sensitized individuals like essential oils, salt solutions, Hydrogen peroxide, organosilane surface protectors, etc.

10. Action vs. Talk

More and more people are rejecting marketing and want scientific proof of claims regarding equipment, chemicals, and other products. Ebola made a big difference in this. There was (and still isn’t) a proven killer of the Ebola virus. People want proof products are doing the job correctly.

11. Green vs. Greenwash

Claiming something is green is no longer going to cut it. Like the point above, people want proof what’s being used in their home is safe. Therefore, the industry is taking meaningful steps toward green chemistry rather than greenwashing. On the safety side of this, there are huge studies going around about nanotechnology as we continue manipulating things on the molecular level. Those changes are in turn appearing to affect people, especially sensitized individuals. It’s a huge trend in the safety field.

12. Closer Cooperation Between Industry Associations

This is already happening! ASHRAE and the IAQA recently merged; APIC and ASHRAE coordinated on responding to the Legionella outbreak; RIA, IAQA, and the IICRC presented a united position on Florida’s mold law changes; ISSA and CIRI worked on a joint standard; and the IICRC currently has nine MOUs. As the world becomes more complicated, it takes more people to get it right – so collaboration becomes key.

13. Marketing Will Keep Shifting

The industry is already trending toward social media promotions and educating through marketing, rather than straight sales techniques. The way you reach customers today will likely be very different in years to come.

Don’t let this list scare you. The restoration and remediation world will continue to evolve, just as it always has. Staying ahead of the curve is key. So stay informed through industry training, conferences, webinars, publications, and other resources.

In the words of Doc Brown in Back to the Future III, “Your future is whatever you make of it, so make it a good one!”

Board-Ups and Fire Damage

6/8/2016 (Permalink)

A crew is called out by the production manager in the middle of the night. A residential fire is in process and will need a board-up. A crew chief arrives on the scene investigating how many windows are broken out; how many doors are broken out; is the house secure; what do we need to preserve for the fire marshal or investigators?

The next day estimators go out and listen to the family’s concerns regarding content/ belongings (china, urns with ashes, family heirlooms, etc.). If there are firearms in the house, a homeowner has to immediately remove these items on their own. SERVPRO teams learn what the family needs regarding clothing or temporary support and helps with resources. SERVPRO crew members begin packing out belongings to bring back to the franchise warehouse to ozone and clean according to restoration industry standards and SERVPRO best practices.

The signature touch? SERVPRO franchises are trained to help families and business owners who are devastated by fires, floods or other horrific circumstances – to care, to show the human side of the work. We certainly can make anything regarding a structure or contents “Like it never even happened.” but the emotional side of crisis takes a special team of people who understand, empathize, listen, and hold out their hand.

Fire Safety - Learn Not To Burn

6/8/2016 (Permalink)

Thanks to The Western Pennsylvania Hospital Burn Trauma Center for these Fire Safety Tips for the upcoming summer months:

IN YOUR YARD:

*Keep children away from BBQ grills.

*Use an electric starter to light your BBQ. Avoid lighter fluid, gasoline and newspaper.

*Keep hot coals in the BBQ until they are completely cooled. A child may pick up a hot coal left on the ground.

*Turn your lawnmower engine off and let it cool before adding gasoline.

*If burning leaves is permissible in your community, make sure the fire is in a contained area, and do not leave until the fire has been extinguished.

IT'S SPRING & SUMMER SO CLEAN YOUR BASEMENT:

*Throw away old newspapers, rags and other trash. These materials easily catch fire.

*Store flammable liquids such as gasoline, kerosene and paint outside in a cool, locked storage area. Do not store them in your basement or garage.

*Make sure power tools are properly grounded. Use the voltage specified on the tool or instruction manual. 

IN YOUR CAR:

*Repair your car outdoors, not in a closed garage. 

*Let an experienced mechanic handle all extensive repairs (priming the carburetor, etc.).

*Wait until the engine cools before unscrewing the radiator cap.

*Do not siphon gasoline or transport gasoline in the back of a truck.

SERVPRO of Metro Pittsburgh East- What Do They Do?

4/12/2016 (Permalink)

First Notice of Loss: It means- RAPID RESPONSE

Second responders…

that would be the crew of SERVPRO pulling up to your house or business after a fire, helping you work through the insurance claim...

Helping you find your way when you are just overwhelmed. Our industry of clean-up and restoration is about working in the aftermath of a disaster. Sometimes we are second responders and sometimes we are first responders.

What kind of disasters?

Water loss (pipes breaking, toilets overflowing, showers left running) – think of floors, walls, behind the walls, ceilings, and then mold……water damage gets everywhere.

Fire (soot, odor, clothes/textiles, electronics, general contents) – think of how to deep clean and get back to normal.

Biohazard (someone cuts themselves in a police car, suicide, decomposed body, crime scene) – think of bloodborne pathogens and safety.

Hoarding (residential homes discovered, sometimes with several animals inside too) – think of the unsanitary conditions and packing out.

Mold (basements, old water loss never addressed properly, unventilated bathrooms) – think safest way to remove “this stuff”.

Air Ducts (overdue general cleaning) – think easy, oh wait, we just found mold.

Hurricane (national crisis) – think of a trained response team.

All of these examples represent some of the services SERVPRO Metro Pittsburgh East provides to residential and commercial clients. Our crews help individuals determine the best choices for clean-up, restoration and construction repair. Our multi-franchise team helps families and businesses get back to living or back to working as quickly as possible after a crisis.

We know there are many choices in the clean-up and restoration business, however, we are the largest SERVPRO franchise in western Pennsylvania related to employees and equipment inventory. We have operated in the region for more than 14 years under the same owners (Metro-Pitt, South Hills and Monroeville).

Plus Metro-Pitt has operated in the community for more than 25 years. This is the kind of experience you want on your side when things go madly wrong.

Keep our phone numbers in your devices:  (412) 672-5400 / 1-877-824-0565.