Recent Fire Damage Posts

We can make fire damage "Like it never even happened"

5/19/2020 (Permalink)

SERVPRO professional cleaning off soot from a wall Fire are often unexpected, and we want to create peace of mind as we are able to get the property back to preloss conditions.

The first 24 hours after fire damage make the difference between restoring versus replacing the property. SERVPRO of Ottumwa/Grinnell provides a timely response with mitigation services ranging from smoke and soot removal to contents claim inventory and document restoration. We offer a large amount of options in the case of fire damage. We can either utilize a dry or wet technique to completely remove soot off of surfaces like the walls and ceiling. Additionally, media blasting is used soot, mold, or paint removal. It is done by forcibly propelling a stream of abrasive material to smooth the surface. Lastly, thermal fogging recreates the act of penetrations and follows the same path of the smoke from a fire to deodorize. It is estimated that up to 50% of businesses that close due to a disaster, such as a fire, never reopen. Of the businesses that survive, the overwhelming majority of them have a preparedness plan in place. Whether it’s a home or business, SERVPRO is a lead in fire damage response and can help you quickly get the property back.

What ultrasonic cleaning can do for you!

5/6/2020 (Permalink)

An open ultrasonic tank This ultrasonic tank can be used on a wide variety of products in almost any size.

Our Ultrasonic Machine system is utilized to clean many different items including items damaged by mold or soot, mainly being used with fire damage. An ultrasonic tank and dryer are paired together to help create a complete drying process. Contents are cleaned in our ultrasonic tank and then they are placed in the dryer to complete the system. This dual system allows for contents to be cleaned efficiently and thoroughly, expanding our range of restorable contents. We can clean some electronics, jewelry, guns, family heirlooms, light fixtures, porcelain dolls, etc. All this is done quickly and efficiently. We can clean a whole assortment of contents as it offers a deep and even clean for even the most delicate items. This system utilizes minimal chemicals and high speed and energy efficient cleaning. Ultrasonic works with high-frequency ultrasonic vibrations, along with the special cleaning solutions to create the effect of millions of tiny bubbles which break down contaminants off the target surface without the need for scrubbing. Even if you don't have fire and water damage in your home and you just need an item deep cleaned, feel free to bring it in and we will be happy to clean the item quickly and thoroughly for you. With our ultrasonic dryer, contents are cleaned in our ultrasonic tank and then placed in this dryer to complete the process.

Why Have a Live Burn?

10/18/2019 (Permalink)

A broken gas line on fire, shooting out a jet of fire This is a broken CSST flexible gas line that ignited gas and released a jet of fire.

Four large boxes were constructed this month by our SERVPRO team with drywall to simulate an actual room. Recently, the Ankeny Fire Department, EFI Global and our SERVPRO of Ottumwa/Oskaloosa franchise helped set up a live burn for insurance adjusters and risk managers to help them gain knowledge to make informed decisions when processing claims. Adjustors learned the details of how fires erupt from separate structural materials, analyzing the speed of fire scenarios. Donated furniture was used to show how different fire scenarios can alter a home. A broken CSST flexible gas line which is utilized to run gas to appliances helped create one of the potential house fires. The situation brought about a non-grounded line that developed a pin hole from an electricity arc and leaked out gas, hence, igniting the gas and creating a stream of fire. The fire department also demonstrated how quickly fires with pieces of furniture close in proximity in a corner erupt. Overall, Live burns are essential for adjustors so they know the effects of soot and smoke throughout the environment. To learn more, read our blog on the top 10 causes of house fires to learn how to protect your home.

Halloween Fire Safety Tips for Safe Decorating

10/7/2019 (Permalink)

Halloween fire safety is very important and SERVPRO of Ottumwa / Oskaloosa is here with these safety tips. If you have an accidental fire in your home or business you can depend on SERVPRO of Ottumwa / Oskaloosa to help with your clean up needs. We believe though that  knowledge and prethinking helps to reduce fire damage.

  • Use a battery-operated candle or glow-stick in jack-o-lanterns. If you use a real candle, use extreme caution. Make sure children are watched at all times when candles are lit. When lighting candles inside jack-o-lanterns, use long, fireplace-style matches or a utility lighter. Be sure to place lit pumpkins well away from anything that can burn and far enough out of the way of trick-or-treaters, doorsteps, walkways, and yards.
  • Dried flowers, cornstalks and crepe paper catch fire easily. Keep all decorations away from open flames and other heat sources like light bulbs and heaters.
  • Tell children to stay away from open flames including jack-o-lanterns with candles in them. Be sure they know how to stop, drop and roll if their clothing catches fire.

Halloween fire facts

  • From 2009-2013, decorations were the item first ignited in an estimated average of 860 reported home structure fires per year.
  • Nearly half of decoration fires in homes occurred because the decorations were too close to a heat source.
  • These fires caused an estimated average of one civilian death, 41 civilian injuries, and $13 million in direct property damage per year.
  • Forty-one percent of these incidents were started by candles; one-fifth began in the living room, family room, or den. 

 Source: NFPA Applied Research

Content Cleaning Services

7/15/2019 (Permalink)

When a fire occurs in your home or business, not only does it leave the structure a mess but your contents as well.  At SERVPRO of Ottumwa / Oskaloosa we have specifically trained content cleaning personnel that will help to restore your personal belongings back to pre-fire condition.

 We start by taking a detailed inventory of your belongings and carefully packing them into boxes. This would include any item that SERVPRO cleaning personnel and you deem salvageable including:  clothing, shoes, rugs, drapes, linens, décor items, electronics, dishes, books, and other miscellaneous items around the home.  They are then taken back to our facilities where SERVPRO uses different methods of restoration to carefully bring life back to your belongings as quickly as possible.

After the cleaning process has taken place, your personal contents are stored for safe keeping until your home/ business is ready to be moved back into.

Fire Cleaning - Knowing How To Clean

6/19/2019 (Permalink)

These items all were inside of a fire and cleaned by SERVPRO staff.

When cleaning up after a fire, SERVPRO of Ottumwa / Oskaloosa cleaning specialists have to pay close attention to what kind of residue they are cleaning. There are 3 main residue classifications and SERVPRO cleaning specialists are highly trained to handle each one. The 3 classifications are:

Protein Residue: Results from burning meat, fish or beans. The residue is very greasy and sticks to most surfaces. Water based solutions are used to clean this type of residue.

Natural Substance Residue: Results from burning paper or wood. These residues have a dry, powder-like texture. They are the easiest to clean and are removed with vacuums and other dry preconditioning techniques.

Synthetic Residue: Results when the burned material is oil based. Ex: carpets, upholstery, window shades, furniture and toys. These materials produce a thick, heavy, black residue that is easily smeared. If the residue is untouched, it is easily vacuumed away. If the residue is touched, other steps have to be taken to effectively remove.

After a fire, it is best to vacate the building without touching anything and leave the clean up process to SERVPRO trained staff.

Close Before You Dose

5/10/2019 (Permalink)

The idea that you want to leave your door open when you sleep so you can smell the smoke is a dated and dangerous one. Studies have shown that during sleep, your senses become weak. Olfaction (sense of smell) is reduced the maximum, making it the weakest among all senses. Chances are that the smoke from a fire will reach your room long before the actual flames of the fire. Smoke contains many gasses such as carbon monoxide and hydrogen cyanide that reduce the oxygen in the air and cause disorientation. Assuming you have properly placed and working smoke detectors to alert you of the fire, closing the door to your bedroom will keep these harmful gasses at bay long enough for you to make life saving decisions. SERVPRO of Ottumwa / Oskaloosa has seen several occasions where the doors were shut to rooms and they have minimal fire damage while other areas not shut off have extensive.  For more information on home fire safety and smoke alarm installation, please visit

I smell smoke, dinner must be done! - Trust SERVPRO When Needing Fire Cleaning

5/10/2019 (Permalink)

Hopefully for most people they will never have to experience a house fire and the related cleanup and restoration that follows but if you do SERVPRO of Ottumwa / Oskaloosa is ready to help.

The leading cause of a residential structure fire is cooking[1].

 I want you to think for a second to a time where you were sitting at a campfire. Now, regardless of how long you sat there you will likely have an odor on you now. Some more than others know exactly what I mean. That absolutely unmistakable smell of wood smoke, burning leaves, or a grass fire. It’s not exactly pleasant the next day if you wear the same coat, hat, and your shoes. This is a simple fix is to wash the items.

Now what do you do if you have a fire inside the house? It may not look bad or maybe half the house is gone, no matter. Your next steps may be critical in saving irreplaceable personal items and salvaging the remaining structure.  

SERVPRO of Ottumwa / Oskaloosa is ready to help. We do this with our trained staff who has had IICRC fire restoration training, certifications, and continuing education for our team. We use the newest technology that is exclusive to SERVPRO. We take our technical training, technology, experience, and willingness to help people and make an otherwise devastating disaster "Like it never even happened."

[1] [1]

Structure Cleaning After A Fire

3/6/2019 (Permalink)

When fire damage affects your home or business SERVPRO of Ottumwa/Oskaloosa is here to help.  We have IICRC trained technicians that specialize in structure and content cleaning. One of the first processes in structure cleaning is to remove soot residue. We use dry sponges to remove the soot from the affected materials. In order to reach the high areas in the home we will attach the dry sponge to an extendable pole to reach. Then the sponge can be used to wipe down ceilings and walls of any soot that might be on the structure.  Soot residue has to be removed in order for the structure seal coat to stick. You can depend on SERVPRO to have the right training and tools to get the job done.

Wet Washing After A Fire

3/6/2019 (Permalink)

When fire damage occurs there are different techniques of cleaning depending on the type of fire that occurred. You can depend on SERVPRO of Ottumwa/Oskaloosa to help your business or home after the fire has occurred.  We will scope the situation and determine the best plan of action. There are different techniques. One of those techniques and processes is wet washing. This process is not to be used for every fire as it can smear the soot verses remove it.  The picture shows our team wet washing a section of soot damaged area and the improvement it has made on this particular fire. We are here to help when you need us most. If you have had a fire in your home or business give our team of professionals a call.

Specializing in Fire Cleanup

5/2/2018 (Permalink)

SERVPRO of Ottumwa/Oskaloosa is here to help when fire affects your home or business. We know that you don’t experience this everyday. We specialize in fire restoration cleaning and mitigation. We are here to help when a fire affects the structure and/or contents.  We are a full service restoration company. You can depend on us to help you make advised decisions as you work through the process. We clean structure and contents. We provide demolition services. We will media blast and seal structure. We work with dependable subcontractors to help in the rebuilding process. We work with and communicate all documentation with insurance programs and the insured to make sure all know the status and progress of the job. We are here to help when a fire occurs.

Cleaning After A Fire Damage

5/2/2018 (Permalink)

When cleaning after a fire don’t use water initially. Soot should not be cleaned up with water first. Soot should initially be removed with dry sponges. Dry soot cleaning sponges are used to remove soot and dirt where you don’t want the surface to get wet. It is made of a natural rubber and is used like an eraser. Once the surface of the sponge is dirty it has to be thrown out. They can not be reused. The sponges hold a remarkable amount of soot in the pours of the sponge. After wiping the fine particles of soot off the surface the surface can be wet washed. This process needs to be done by a professional. If not done properly surface damage can occur. There is a science to fire cleaning and you should trust and hire a professional if you have fire clean up that needs to occur. We work hard and have trained professionals ready to make it “Like it never even happened."

Home Contents Inventory-Why it’s Needed in Case of a Fire

6/22/2017 (Permalink)

Imagine having a total loss of your home due to a fire and having to recall every item that was damaged… could you do it? Would you trust yourself to remember each individual item that was in your home, especially the rarely used ones? Without a photographic memory most of us would find some difficulty with this task in an already stressful time. In the event of a fire, your insurance company will expect you to provide a list of all your personal property that was damaged. By having a pre-assembled Home Contents Inventory you can have piece-of-mind knowing that all of your contents are documented and can then be properly replaced according to your insurance policy. There are several methods to complete your Home Contents Inventory whether on paper or digitally (you can contact your local SERVPRO for a blank copy of either). You will want to make sure to list each item, its value, and include any receipts and photographs along with it. It’s a good idea to update your Home Contents Inventory list annually to include any new items you have added to the home and remove items you no longer have. Make sure to keep a copy safe in a fireproof container or safe deposit box and you can always file a copy with your insurance agent as well.

Emergency Fire Tips

6/22/2017 (Permalink)

In 2015 there were 1,345,500 fires reported in the United States. A structure fire was reported every 63 seconds and caused an estimated $14.3 billion in property damage. In order to ensure you and your family’s safety make sure to have an escape route in place so if a fire is discovered, you can move quickly to evacuate to your designated meeting place. The aftermath of a fire can be just as devastating as the initial event. Your local SERVPRO is here to help minimize damage and save your contents. Do not attempt to clean any electrical appliances that may have been close to a fire without consulting a repair service and make sure your restoration company is IICRC certified (all SERVPRO techs are!) There is a science behind effective cleaning. Proper methods and products must be used depending on the materials being cleaned to avoid further damage. When you choose SERVPRO, you can take comfort knowing your home and contents are in the hands of trained and caring professionals.

Smoke Alarms and Fire Emergency Plans

4/3/2017 (Permalink)

Smoke alarms save lives. They are the tool most valuable in saving peoples lives.  Smoke alarms should be near every bedroom. It is very important to check them often and make sure the batteries are in good working condition.  Test the alarm beep every month.  Change the batteries every year and the unit may need replaced every 10 years.  If you need help with your smoke detectors, installing, servicing, or testing contact your local fire department. 

Be sure also that your home has a Fire Emergency Plan in place. Make sure everyone knows where to go and how to conduct themselves in the event of a fire.  Show children how to open windows and how to test doors to see if they are hot.  Make sure everyone knows where the safe place to meet outside the home is.  A practice fire drill with your family is always a good practice once a year.

Principles of Deodorization following a Fire

3/28/2017 (Permalink)

There are four principles of deodorization that we follow when restoring an affected area after a fire.  The first step is to remove the source.  The charred material all needs to be removed first to start the process. 

We then clean contaminated surfaces to remove soot residue.  This needs to happen as soon as we are able to. This will help minimize damage.

After removing the residue we then use different methods to remove odor.  This principle is called recreate the conditions of penetration.  We use many different methods to remove odor form objects.  We use ozone machines, hydroxyl machines as well as thermal foggers to remove odor. 

When necessary we seal and encapsulate the odor using special sealing materials so that the odor does not penetrate the sealer and continue to produce an odor.


List of items to be maintained by the customer following a fire

3/28/2017 (Permalink)

In the event of a fire and it is decided by the customer, insurance adjuster, and SERVPRO that SERVPRO is going to do a content pack out of the affected belongings while the home/business is restored there are a few items that the customer should maintain.  These items SERVPRO prefers are sorted out of the belongings before we come to pack up the others for cleaning and storage. 

-insurance policies

-licenses, birth certificates, passports, tax documents

-school and medical records

-checkbooks, credit cards, ID cards

-irreplaceable videos, media, or pictures

-few special toys; baby items

-pet foods and inside pets


-prescription drugs

Our pack out process if very organized and recorded for easy access of any items that are needed while in our hands but these are a few items that are usually needed very quickly.

Fire & Smoke Do's and Don'ts

2/23/2017 (Permalink)

If you have fire and smoke damage to your property it is hard to not start cleaning yourself.  Please let the professionals help you. 

The Do's

-Keep movement in the building at a minimum.  This helps keep particles from being embedded in carpet and fabrics.

-Wash your hands a lot and be careful not to transfer or wipe soot onto something. It can make it damage the item more.

-If electricity is off empty fridges and freezers and prop doors open to prevent odors. 

-Change your furnace/air conditioner filter but don't let the system continue to run. Turn it off.


-Do not try washing any thing yourself.  You could further rub the soot into the item. 

-Don't shampoo your carpet. Talk to a professional first.

-Don't clean any electronics without contacting a professional.

-Do not consume any food or beverages that may have been effected by the fire, soot, or smoke.

-Do not turn ceiling fans on. This will stir up the soot residue. 

FSRT & OCT Certifications

6/1/2015 (Permalink)

Last week we had a new group of employees go through the FSRT and OCT (Fire, Smoke, and Odor) Certification Classes.  I cannot wait to announce that all of our employees passed and add their certifications to our resume.  We train to make sure you get the best service we can provide!