Improving Your Home: Homeowners upset over 'fire truck chasers'

Insurance restoration requires a lot of specialized equipment and chemicals, and the proper training to know how to use them safely and effectively.
By Paul Bianchina Published: March 8, 2014
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Q: I recently had a friend’s home catch fire. How do these fire-water restoration companies work? What all do they do and how? The owner of the home said the companies (yes, plural) were there within hours of the fire being put out, admitting that they were listening to the radio scanner. Please advise.

A: I’m terribly sorry to hear about your friend’s fire. I was an insurance restoration contractor for much of my working career in construction, and I know all too well how devastating fires can be — not only to the structure and contents, but emotionally as well.

You raise a very interesting question. On the one hand, an insurance restoration company is no different than any other contractor. It needs to be licensed, bonded and insured in accordance with the laws of the city and state it operates in, and it needs to follow all the same building codes, workplace regulations and other laws that other contractors follow.

On the other hand, insurance restoration requires a lot of very specialized skills. The contractor has to understand how fire and smoke affect a structure; what can and can’t be salvaged; how to remove smoke odor; how to safely dry a structure; how to prevent mold and if it's there, how to deal with it properly; and many other situations that the average remodeling contractor or new builder never faces.

Insurance restoration also requires a lot of specialized equipment and chemicals, and the proper training to know how to use them safely and effectively.

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