After a fire

After a fire

Practical advice on what to do after you have had a property fire.

What to do next?

  • After we have left make sure you have been given an ‘Incident Handover Form’.
  • All the details you need to know about the incident will be on this form.

The following information may help you with what to do next.

Keeping safe

If you feel unwell

If you feel unwell and are suffering the after-effects of fumes or smoke inhalation call your doctor, accident and emergency department or NHS Choices 111.

Make sure the building is safe to enter

  • The fire officer will tell you if the property is safe to enter. They will advise you of the damage.
  • If there is severe structural damage a local authority building inspection may need to advise you on whether the building is safe.

Is the air quality poor?

  • Depending on the size of the fire the air quality will have been affected.
  • Many items in the property will have been contaminated by the smoke.
  • Follow the guidance on your ‘Incident Handover Form’.


If you have to leave your property unattended

  • If possible close all the windows and doors. If windows or doors need boarding up, a contractor can do this for you. Your building insurance will normally pay for this work.
  • Remove valuables and important documents if it is safe to do so.
  • Your firefighters may use large salvage sheets to protect your property. These remain the property of the fire service and long usage may incur a charge.
  • Contact your local police to make them aware your property will be empty.
  • If you are a tenant it’s your landlord's responsibility to secure the building.

Who to contact

If you are a property owner

  • Contact your insurer. They can offer immediate assistance if required. They will also send a loss adjuster or claims advisor to inspect the damage to your property and contents so they can agree on a claim with you.
  • Do not dispose of or carry out any repair work until they have done this. You may also need to inform your mortgage company about the incident.
  • We recommend you work with individuals appointed by your insurance company. You may be approached by public loss assessors who work independently of your insurance company. They can represent you in dealing with your claim but will normally make a charge or take a percentage of the claim for their service.

If you are a tenant or leaseholder

  • Contact the building owner, landlord, agent or management company. They may then claim from the building insurer.
  • It will also be their responsibility to repair any damage to gas, electricity or water supplies.

If you are a commercial leaseholder

  • The building should be covered by the landlord.
  • Your contents will be covered by your own insurance and you should contact your insurance company.

Emergency tips

Your insurance company will help but there are some things you can do too.



    • open doors and windows for ventilation (but don’t leave the building unsecured)
    • use a vacuum cleaner with a high-quality filter to gently remove the soot; use the open vacuum pipe rather than a brush
    • protect chrome and stainless steel items and fittings with a light coating of petroleum jelly or other oil
    • keep the freezer closed if electricity is likely to be restored in under 24 hours and equipment is not affected by water, heat or smoke
    • consider calling a plumber to drain the pipework if there is a risk of frost and the heating system is not working
    • spray house plants with water on both sides of leaves (water softener helps)
    • remove pets, including fish, to clean environments
    • get advice before reconnecting gas, electric or water supplies; never attempt to reconnect yourself.

    Do not

    • attempt to wash absorbent surfaces on walls or ceilings
    • use damaged upholstered furniture
    • use food that has been exposed to fire or smoke
    • refreeze thawed food
    • use affected electrical appliances until cleaned and checked by a qualified person
    • send smoke-damaged clothes to an ordinary dry cleaner as incorrect cleaning may make smoke and odour impossible to remove.

    If you have had a chimney fire

    • The surrounding brickwork and plaster can remain warm for several hours
    • Catch falling debris in a water-filled pan in the fireplace or stove
    • Place a guard in front of the fire
    • The chimney will need to cool for 24 hours before lighting again
    • Remember to have your chimney swept on a regular basis.

    Useful contacts

    • Western Power Distribution 0800 052 0400
    • South West Water - water and sewerage enquiries, including emergencies 0344 346 2020
    • National Grid UK
      • Gas emergency 0800 111 999
      • Electricity emergency 0800 40 40 90
    • NHS Choices 111

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