Recent Fire Damage Posts

The Importance of 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.

Last week, the Ankeny Fire Department along with EFI Global and our SERVPRO of Des Moines East & SW 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. Several large boxes were built by our SERVPRO team with drywall to simulate an actual room. Furniture was donated to help show how different fire scenarios can alter a home. Before the live burns, adjustors were able to learn about the science behind how certain fires are started, analyzing the speed and power behind the separate fires. One of the burns was created by a broken CSST flexible gas line which is utilized to run gas to appliances. The situation brought about a non-grounded line that developed a pin hole from an electricity arc. The gas then leaks out and catches fire from the arc of electricity, igniting the gas and creating a jet of fire. Another scenario was meant to show how quickly fires in a corner with several pieces of furniture next to each other erupt. Live burn events are beneficial to understand the effects of the fire, analyzing the speed of fire as well as the way it spreads and how different contents and structural materials are affected. It’s also important for them to know the effects of soot and smoke throughout the environment and how different fires start from separate structural materials.

Fire Clean Up By a Trained Crew

10/5/2019 (Permalink)

After a fire strikes your life you need to have a trusted company cleanup the damage properly. SERVPRO of Des Moines East & SW is the trusted leader in fire cleanup. We are a preferred vendor for many insurance companies making the process that much easier for you. We can handle everything from pack out to overseeing reconstruction services. We specialize in Fire and Smoke restoration and spend hundreds of hours training our techs the extensive cleaning processes.  No fire is the same. We are faster to any size disaster and can make your fire loss "Like it never even happened." At SERVPRO we use a restore vs. replace mentality meaning you can get your original items back in most cases and your structure restored quicker. Call SERVPRO of Des Moines East & SW if you have fire or smoke damage today!  Our crews will respond 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. 

Halloween Fire Safety Tips by the Fire Clean Up Team - SERVPRO

9/29/2019 (Permalink)

Pumpkin with glow stick beside it Use these pumpkin glow sticks in your pumpkins and decorations for a fire safe haloween.

Halloween fire safety is very important and SERVPRO of Des Moines East & SW is here with these safety tips.

  • 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

If you have an accidental fire in your home or business you can depend on SERVPRO of Des Moines East & SW to help with your clean up needs.

Lead Testing May Be Necessary After A Fire Damage

6/14/2019 (Permalink)

Before 1978 lead was very common in construction. Lead paint is very uncommon in new construction these days but may still occur. When necessary testing may need to be done before any removal of affected materials occurs.

At SERVPRO, we invest in our technicians with the training and certifications to provide you with the safest mitigation project we can. We always work “lead-safe” and follow all laws and regulations. For more information on lead please visit

At SERVPRO of Des Moines East & SW we typically find lead based paint after a fire and/or water loss has occurred. Used in more than 38 million homes lead is something we must be very careful about to keep you and your family safe. Protecting the health and safety of our clients is very important to us. Lead dust is the most common way lead exposure occurs.  At SERVPRO we invest in our technicians with the training and certifications to provide you with the safest mitigation project we can. We always work “lead-safe” and follow all laws and regulations. For more information on lead please visit

Kitchen Fire Cleanup - I smell smoke, dinner must be done!

5/10/2019 (Permalink)

Did you know from 2012-2016 more than $6.5 billion dollars in direct property damage was caused by fire? The leading cause of a residential structure fire is cooking[1]. Hopefully for most people they will never have to experience a house fire and the related cleanup and restoration that follows. 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 and you can even smell it while you read this maybe. 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, wash it.

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. Unfortunately many people never make a plan for unexpected disasters such as this.

At SERVPRO of Des Moines SW and East we are always Ready for Whatever Happens and will be there for you in your time of the unexpected to help make it "Like it never even happened." We do this with 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 specially formulated products by our own in house chemist and willingness to help people and make an otherwise devastating disaster better.

We have a way to help prepare before the disaster happens. Want to be Ready for Whatever Happens? You can build and manage your own Emergency Ready Profile completely free of charge. Do you own or manage commercial properties? A SERVPRO representative can build it for you today and we do that free of charge to keep you prepared. Check out  then call our office and we can schedule a quick walk through to help build your profile. On average this process takes about 30 minutes to an hour.

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Fire Damage Clean Up

3/6/2019 (Permalink)

When fire damage affects your home or business SERVPRO of Des Moines SW & East 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 Des Moines SW & East 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.

Odor Removal after Fire Damage

6/28/2018 (Permalink)

SERVPRO of Des Moines SW does content cleaning.  After a fire contents can be affected by odor and soot.  Our trained professionals will come in and assess those contents and decide which ones are save able and which ones have to be disposed of.

Different contents absorb soot and odor differently based off of the materials they are made of.  The first step of removing odor is to remove the source of the odor which is the soot. We will clean the item using different methods based off of the material and amount of damage to the item. Then after the soot is removed we will tackle the odor.

To remove the odor we will put most items inside of our ozone room. The picture below shows half of our ozone room. Our ozone room contains wire racking as well as plenty of room for free standing larger items. The items will remain in the sealed room for several hours while the ozone machine runs. 

We work hard to return your items to you and make it "Like it never even happened."

Content Pack Out Services After A Fire In Des Moines

6/28/2018 (Permalink)

When a fire happens in your home or business you can depend on SERVPRO of Des Moines SW to help.  We provide a service while the clean up process occurs to pack out the contents in your home or business that might be either affected or be in the way why mitigation and clean up services occur. We will pack up those contents, clean them, and/or store them if needed.  We label the boxes and photo graph all items inside the boxes for easy identification and location if needed during the process.  The picture below shows how we keep the contents labeled and in a crate for easy identification and organization in our warehouse.  You can depend on SERVPRO to help during your clean up process.

We are Trained Fire Cleaning Specialists

5/2/2018 (Permalink)

SERVPRO of Des Moines SW 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

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.”

Estimating your fire loss in the Des Moines area

2/28/2018 (Permalink)

Our estimator looking at a loss before writing an estimate for the client

Our skilled and knowledgeable estimators walk through the property looking at multiple variables such as WATER DAMAGE from extinguishing the fire, WALLS AND STRUCTURE DAMAGE checking the structural strength of your home or business, SOOT DAMAGE by removing the soot and deodorizing the smoke smell, CONTENT CLEANING so you get your possessions back without soot damage or smoke smell. All of these things are looked at and factored in when doing a complete and thorough estimate to perform restoration mitigation services after a fire or soot damage.

To help make things easier for you it is always good to have a log of your insured contents so if a fire does occur you can easily tell what is accounted for and what you might need to throw away. Many insurance companies have a content inventory checklist so check and see if your insurance company has one. This helps you know what you have for contents and assign a value to your contents.

Our estimators also talk with your insurance and have an open line of communication to help make sure when we are done we 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 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.