The information contained in this page is designed to help you with the recovery from your fire incident.
After the Fire
The City of North Charleston extends our deepest sympathy because of your loss and resulting hardships. An After the Fire representative will assist you in contacting various relief agencies for emergency assistance. The fire department would like to provide you with the following information to assist you in a speedy recovery. If you have any other questions that are not addressed in this booklet, please do not hesitate to contact a fire department representative.
Availability of Fire Reports…
Fire reports are made available to you after the building is released by the fire department and the investigation into the cause is complete. The cost is $5 and reports may be picked-up at Fire Department Headquarters, currently located in North Charleston City Hall at 2500 City Hall Lane. (off Mall Drive in front of the movie theater). Reports usually take three to five business days to complete are are available after that time. Please contact FD Headquarters at (843) 740-2616 to ensure your report is ready for pick-up.
Explaining the Firefighting Operation…
North Charleston Fire Department’s first unit arrives on scene typically within six minutes or less, following the initial call for help. This response is critical because we have no idea how long the fire has been in progress before we received the call. Fire will double in size in as little as 45 seconds. Heat and smoke will fill the house making breathing impossible after a few minutes. If needed, rescue operations will begin immediately after the arrival of the first unit. The North Charleston Fire Department takes care not to cause additional damage by opening holes in the roof or knocking out windows unless necessary.
The procedure for cutting a hole in the roof is only used when it is necessary to vent smoke and heat from the house and that action cannot be safely completed by other means.
Windows are opened instead of breaking them, when time allows and a procedure known as positive pressure ventilation is used to clear the smoke and super-heated air from the home. This rapid procedure causes much less damage than other methods of smoke removal.
The department attempts to only use the minimum amount of water necessary to extinguish the fire.
When can I go home?
Your home may be seriously damaged and contaminated from the fire. When the incident commander declares the residence safe, a fire department representative will escort you through your residence. Be careful not to move objects, or cause further damage to the structure. Your insurance company may want to take pictures of the damage.
My home needs to be secured…
Before leaving the scene, the North Charleston Fire Department will secure the residence as best it can, with the limited resources available. The department recommends that you place tarps or plastic sheeting over openings. We have very little control in this area The North Charleston Police Department will be asked to add patrols in the area. If the need for security is present, you may want to contact your insurance company to see if it can help.
What if I cannot live in my residence?
Re-occupying your home should be done with caution. Your fire department representative will assist you in obtaining temporary shelter, if available, through other agencies. Your homeowners insurance may also provide you with temporary housing, clothing, food and other items related to fire loss. Keep track of your receipts, they can be proof for reimbursement and also may be used as a discount on your state and federal taxes for this year.
I’ve lost my medication and eyeglasses in the fire….
The fire department representative will attempt to assist you in calling your physician to obtain emergency medications. The representative will also provide information about various agencies which have provisions for eyeglass replacement. The American Red Cross also provides these services upon request.
You are anxious to inspect the damage and to salvage your belonging. Remember there are many hidden hazards in the structure. Wait until a representative from the fire department can accompany you through the structure the first time you enter.
Is the building safe? Your fire department representative will escort you through the property. He or she will point out certain structural damages that are visible at the time, however there can be unseen damage to your home. If there is sufficient damage to your home the building department will be notified in order to inspect the property as well.
DO NOT turn the water, gas or electric power on yourself. Contact your utility company for further instructions. They will not usually reconnect until the building department has signed an authorization.
Wait outside the structure until a fire department representative arrived to escort you through your residence when the incident commander deems it safe to do so. Soot and smoke contain dangerous chemicals and toxic gasses that are invisible to the naked eye. Firefighters use special equipment to measure the level of toxic gases in the air.
After the Fire Department leaves, the building becomes your responsibility.
How Do I get Help?
Who will Help….
Food clothing and shelter are the priority. The North Charleston Fire Department representative will help you request basic assistance from various agencies while the fire department is on scene.
Agencies That May Help….
American Red Cross (843) 764-2323
8085 Rivers Ave. North Charleston
(assistance for food, clothing, and shelter)
If after hours, follow the instructions provided by the answering system
Salvation Army (843) 747-5271
4248 Dorchester Road North Charleston
(clothing and some furniture)
Department of Social Services (843) 953-9400
3366 Rivers Ave. North Charleston
(various local churches have assistance programs to help people in need)
I’m going to have to relocate or move for a period of time. What do I need to do ?
You need to contact several agencies and notify them of your new address. Here is a partial list:
U.S. Post Office
Water Company- (Charleston Water Service, Dorchester Co. Public Works)
Power company- (SCE&G)
Gas Companies- (SCE&G, Suburban Gas, Amerigas, Blue Flame)
Cable TV- Comcast Cable, US Cable, Knology Cable)
When you can re-enter your residence, you should try to locate the following documents to help you in your recovery stage.
Social Security Cards
Companies that need to be contacted
It is the responsibility of the owner/occupant to notify the insurance company. If your vehicle is damaged you also need to contact that insurance representative. If you rent the residence, you need to contact the owner of the property at the first available moment. They in turn will need to contact their insurance company. Remember that the landlord’s insurance only covers his or her property. Your belongings are not insured through the landlord’s policy. If you rent, we recommend that you carry renter’s insurance. If you do have insurance you will need to contact your representative as soon as possible. Remember, after the fire department releases the structure/scene, the matter of security becomes the responsibility of the owner and the occupant.
The utilities in your home have most probably been turned off to prevent injury to the firefighters and prevent further damage to the structure. The utility companies will need to be notified to restore services after the structure is deemed safe. The following telephone numbers should help.
|Charleston Water Service||(843) 727-6800|
|Dorchester Co. Public Works||(843) 832-0075|
|Comcast Cable||(843) 554-4100|
|Blue Flame||(843) 559-9114|
If you lost credit cards in the fire contact your credit cards holders immediately to cancel the cards and if possible re-issue new ones to you.
You will need to notify the county Auditors Office about the fire and if there is a loss to any vehicles due to the fire.
Auditor’s Office – 843-958-4200
Reconstruction and Clean Up
If the fire caused enough damage to the structure that a considerable amount of construction has to be done to re-occupy the residence, or if the electric meter has been pulled, a Building Inspector from the City of North Charleston Building Department, must be notified. Proper building permits must be obtained before construction to the damaged structure begins.
Note: If the residence has been damaged to the point that construction must be done, this in not an ordinary construction. You or your insurance carrier may want to contact a Disaster Restoration Specialist Company.
Building Department – 843-554-5700
Your home may have received minor damage to where you just need to clean up certain areas so you can re-occupy it. If there is extensive damage to the structure and articles of furniture, clothing, appliances etc. that can be saved you may want to check with your insurance company about a disaster restoration specialist.
There are various solutions to clean walls, wash clothing, and remove odors. Contact a local disaster cleaning specialist, or other companies that specialize in stain and odor removal. Check to see what health and hazard precautions need to be taken when using cleaning solutions. Test a small area first to be sure that the solution will not harm the article that you want to clean.
Slight odors to clothing may be laundered by using the same procedures as you would in washing your laundry normally. Again, check with companies that specialize in disaster restoration to see if they can recommend a solution to use to remove odors. Check with local dry cleaners before taking laundry to them, only certain cleaners will do laundry that has been exposed to fire and smoke damage.
Washable clothes may be washed in one cup white vinegar and a normal recommended amount of detergent. The vinegar acts as a deodorizer.
Water may seep under tile floors and carpet. Consult a professional about clean up and inspection of these areas, because water can cause floors to warp and will trap smoke odors. It may also be a breeding ground for mold.
Do Not Keep Any Food Items That Have Been Expose To Heat And Smoke.
Toxins from the smoke may penetrate cardboard boxes and plastic wrappings. It is best to throw out all these items.