It is no secret that when a natural disaster happens, it can cause utter destruction to homes, businesses, and other structures that people rely on every day. Fires, in particular, can be especially destructive; and, when a fire destroys a business or commercial property, it can have devastating effects on the company. However, the fire alone may not actually be the biggest risk. In terms of health dangers and property damage, the smoke created by the fire can pack a hefty punch, so companies should make sure to learn just how big of an impact smoke can have on a commercial property.
How Smoke Damage Affects Commercial Properties
Smoke from any type of fire is made up of carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, and soot. Depending on what is actually burning, other harmful chemicals can enter the air, be inhaled into the lungs, or latch onto walls, furniture, clothing, ductwork, and other items. The degree of devastation caused by smoke damage will depend on the temperature, surrounding environment, and particle ionization.
Air Movement and Fire Temperature
As hot air rises, smoke damage is most often concentrated above where the fire burned, as strong air currents flowing through the building push the smoke residue towards the ceiling and above the fire. The outside walls and windows can also be affected, as well as ductwork and door openings.
Because colder air sinks below warmer air, this opens a path for the smoke to travel to other areas of a commercial property. Even if the fire is concentrated in the center of one room, it’s common to find smoke residue on outside walls, windows, door openings, and ductwork.
Businesses and office buildings typically contain furniture, electronics, décor, and other items that will be damaged by smoke if a fire occurs. Smoke damage can affect certain spaces that are seemingly enclosed like desk drawers, closets, and other spaces. These areas can have more smoke damage than areas that were directly burned or melted by the fire.
Typically, smoke particles are ionized and possess electrical charges that attract them to certain surfaces. This can cause smoke damage such as:
Nail heads in the ceiling: Metal nail heads can magnetically attract ionized smoke particles to land in a ring around them.
Corners of the room or building: When plastics burn, the smoke carries a stronger charge than that of wood, cotton, or paper. This charge causes smoke residue to collect in “webs” where the walls and ceiling come together.
On synthetic materials: Manmade furnishings – like vinyl products – tend to have greater ionization characteristics that attract smoke particles at such high concentrations that they become permanently stained.
Fire Insurance Claims
Fires can mean the total loss of a business, which can present many hardships and challenges. Commercial property and business owners should have insurance plans in place in order to provide financial security in these situations; however, not all insurance carriers are created equal and some can actually make the process even more frustrating.
When filing a claim for fire damage to a commercial property, it’s important to have evidence or proof of the items that were damaged or destroyed, just as you would with a water damage claim. After a fire, this can be difficult without a preexisting record or photos of the items that were damaged.
Houston Commercial Property Damage Attorneys
If an insurance company denies or delays coverage following a fire loss, it can have catastrophic effects on the entire business, as slow repairs mean risking lost profits. The attorneys at Raizner Slania LLP know the hurdles the insurance industry will put up in an attempt to mitigate losses. We will fight to make the insurance company honor its obligations to you under your policy. Contact us today for more information on how we can help you and your business.