Saturday, August 23, 2008

Post-fire progress report #4

Slowly, slowly, things begin to get organized.

I've got ServiceMaster and a painting contractor coming in on Monday to do a wall-to-floor-to-ceiling inspection, working out detailed quotes for the clean-up and remediation work. It's going to be a big job - there's soot traces everywhere! I can hardly believe how ash and soot get from one end of the house to the other. I suppose the A/C system had a lot to do with that, trying to cool down the hot air, and spreading the soot in the process.

I'm continuing to get quotes, although over the weekend it's difficult. More of that on Monday or Tuesday, I guess.

Meanwhile, I still smell of smoke, as do all my clothes. It's hardly worth washing them at the moment, because after five minutes in the house, they'll smell like smoke again! Most of them will go to be professionally cleaned and 'de-smoked' as part of the cleanup job. ServiceMaster will set up an "ozone chamber" to house my books overnight, as this is apparently the only way to get the smell out of them. Sounds interesting.

I've also begun buying larger fire extinguishers. Wal-Mart has the 5lb. "First Alert" brand for only $35, which can be refilled and serviced (unlike cheaper throw-away units). I'm planning on getting 10 of them. A friend who's a fireman pointed out that it's better to buy two 5lb. extinguishers than one 10lb., for three reasons:

  • Extinguishers, like any mechanical device, can fail. If one 5lb. extinguisher fails, I'll have another ready to go right next to it. If there's only one 10lb. extinguisher, and it doesn't work, I'm SOL.
  • The 5lb. extinguishers can be handled more easily by smaller and/or less strong persons. If house guests or visitors have to help fight a fire, they'll be able to handle the smaller units more easily than the large ones.
  • If an extinguisher has to be sent out for service, and I have two in the location concerned, I'll still have one there. If I only have one to begin with, I'll be left extinguisher-less in that location until the unit comes back.

Good thoughts. Thanks, James, for the advice.

More updates next week.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Mucho dinero, but if there's construction to be done - drywall, etc. - it might be interesting to get some quotes on a sprinkler system. Many jurisdictions still require iron pipe, mostly because their fire & building codes haven't caught up with modern technology. More and more codes allow the use of plastic pipe for sprinkler systems, which includes PEX, which is very easy to run and reduces the cost of retrofits dramatically. If you do install one, include an automatic shutoff valve; in residential use, rarely is more than a few hundred gallons necessary to control a fire. Past about 250-300 gallons all you're doing is creating more water damage. And, if you have a burglar alarm system, a flow valve with a switch links to it so the alarm monitoring company gets called if the valve detects flow in the sprinkler system. Biggest issue in residential systems is ceiling and attic pipe runs exposed to freezing temperatures, and that can be avoided with insulation and charging the lines above the system's water inlet valve with nitrogen at line pressure. When the sprinkler head is triggered the N2 flows first - nitrogen doesn't support combustion, so it doesn't add to the problem like air would, and with no oxygen in the lines pipe and fittings won't oxidize or corrode over time - and the line then fills with, and flows, water to extinguish the fire.

And, if you do need new drywall, you might consider specifying firecode-rated drywall, available in 5/8" and 3/4" thicknesses. It's a couple bucks more per sheet, but you get a 1 hour rating with the 5/8, and because it's more dense, the extra weight helps dampen sound transmission between rooms.