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The holidays are a time of increased home fires. According to the National Fire Protection Association there are more cooking related fires on Thanksgiving than any other day of year, about three times the average. Building Cleaning Services performs fire damage restoration and deodorization. We are all too familiar with the horrific consequences that can result from a few moments of inattention or carelessness.

Please do not become so engrossed in visiting with friends and family that you neglect what is in the oven or on the stove. A minute’s inattention may be all it takes to turn a celebration into a disaster. A few additional tips for a safe holiday:

1. Please make sure that your smoke detectors are working properly and have fresh batteries. Never remove the battery “because the smoke detector keeps going off”. If normal cooking is setting off the smoke detector then it should be relocated, never disabled.

2. Candles and a crackling fire in the fireplace can add to the holiday cheer, but burning candles should never be left unattended, especially if you have small children or pets who could knock them over. Likewise, if you have a wood burning fireplace the screen should always be kept closed to prevent hot embers from popping out onto the floor.

3. A fire extinguisher with a BC rating should be readily accessible in the kitchen (but not where a stove top fire could block access to it). The BC rating means that it is effective against both liquid and electrical fires, which are the kinds that most often occur during cooking. An ABC rated extinguisher can also be used, but from extensive experience I can tell you that the residue from a BC extinguisher is much easier to clean up afterwards. Water should NEVER be used on a grease fire, however baking soda will work in a pinch and is often quicker to get to than the fire extinguisher.

4. A fire extinguisher with an ABC rating should be readily available in any room where there could be open flames. The A rating means that the extinguisher is also effective against solids such as cloth, paper or wood. To be effective against that type of fire the dry chemical melts and smothers the flames, which is why the residue is much more difficult to clean up afterwards. But keep in mind, the most important thing is to put the fire out quickly; and that means having an extinguisher close at hand and directing the spray toward the base of the flame until you are sure the fire is out or the extinguisher is empty. Review the instructions on your extinguisher.

5. If you cannot put the fire out quickly concentrate on getting everyone out safely. Have a family escape plan and drill it so that everyone, especially any children, knows what to do if there is a fire.

Even a small fire, put out quickly, can create a mess and leave things reeking of smoke odor. If the worst happens BCS can get an emergency crew in to quickly clean up and deodorize to minimize the disruption. Please take a moment to review the following short checklist of simple steps that you can take to minimize the aftereffects of a fire.

Have a fun and safe holiday season. For additional fire safety tips click here to go to the National Fire Protection Association’s free safety tip sheets:


1. Assess the damage: Did the fire mainly result in smoke damage and smoke odor? Or did structural damage result from the fire as well?

2. Did electrical wiring or outlets burn? If so, turn off the circuit breaker if it did not already trip. Do not try to reset any tripped circuit breakers until an electrician has tested the circuits.

3. If the Air Conditioner/Heater was not running during the fire do NOT turn it on. Running it after a fire could spread smoke and odor throughout the entire home.

4. Avoid smearing soot/smoke residue. Cooking fires or burning plastic leave an oily soot residue that is usually best cleaned by professionals using cleaners designed for that purpose. If you do decide to try cleaning up yourself then spot clean a small unobtrusive area first to determine the result.

5. Contact BCS for emergency service, including initial deodorization. We only use chemicals that actually neutralize the odor, not merely cover it up. Initial deodorization should be done as soon as possible. The longer it is allowed to go the farther the odor will spread and the more intense it will become (and the more expensive it will become to eliminate).

If you have any questions please feel free to phone us at 818-953-7100.