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Fire Damage 101: What do I do if my place of worship experiences a fire?

Damaging fires happen every 24 seconds in the United States, according to the National Fire Protection Association. While the number of fires and fire-related deaths has been trending down since the 1970s, they still continue to wreak havoc all across the country. 

Churches are no exception to this reality. In fact, nearly half a million structure fires occur in the United States during any given year. These fires result in over a whopping $10 billion of property damage and over 13,000 civilian injuries. 

Churches are especially vulnerable to fire damage because they often remain unoccupied for long periods of time. On top of this, churches tend to be remained filled with candles as they are often an integral part of services and foster a peaceful atmosphere. 

Dealing with an emergency like this is extremely stressful and often unplanned for. Fortunately, ServiceMaster Restoration By Simons is equipped to handle the aftermath of incidents like this in any kind of property, including churches and other places of worship. 

What do I do if there’s a fire in my church?

  • Act immediately but stay calm. 
  • Alert everyone in the building and make sure to leave the property immediately. Use your pre-planned escape route if you have one, and consider developing one now if you don’t. 
  • When everyone is evacuating the building, make sure everyone stays low and crawls since smoke rises.
  • Do not stop to retrieve any valuables, documents or collectibles. 
  • If you can, close the door to the room the fire started in and close doors as you continue to exit the church. 
  • Before opening any closed doors on your way out, touch it with the back of your hand. If the door is warm, then there is likely fire behind it and you must find an alternative route to exit the church. 
  • Do not attempt to extinguish a fire unless you are trained to do so. 
  • Do not go back into the church. 
  • Call the fire department as soon as you safely have the opportunity to do so. If there is anyone remaining in the building, make sure to inform them of this. 


What should I do after the fire department leaves?

Once the fire is extinguished and the dust settles, call a restoration company immediately to address the damage. Only those who are equipped to handle the water, smoke and fire damage your apartment has suffered should be entering the building and handling the situation. 

Why should I choose ServiceMaster Restoration By Simons? 

We recognize that buildings in Chicago’s Gold Coast and Downtown have guidelines that set them apart from other properties and homes in the city. Occasionally, there are more than one insurance policy involved. It takes an experienced and knowledgeable company like ours to know how to navigate these situations.

We’ll work closely with your proprty manager, facility manager and the various adjusters to make sure that the job is done right.  We understand that your place of worship needs to be cared for and respected during this difficult time. We pride ourselves on limiting our interruption into your lives and services. When possible, we will work around your church’s schedule so that your services are not disrupted further.

What steps do we take to handle fire damage restoration? 

ServiceMaster Restoration By Simons provides Structural Cleaning and Content Cleaning for Chicago & Suburban properties that have been affected by Smoke or Fire Damage. The following is a brief description of those services.

Structural Cleaning Services

  1. Structural Cleaning involves the cleaning of the property itself. This covers soot sponging of walls & ceilings, including crown molding and baseboards.
  2. In some cases, using a soft detergent to clean walls & ceilings.
  3. Cleaning of floors, doors, and windows.
  4. Cleaning of all flat surfaces including countertops and windowsills.
  5. Cleaning of all ventilation and duct systems for HVAC.

Content Cleaning Services

  1. Cleaning of all soft goods including garments, drapes, bedding, carpet & upholstery.
  2. Cleaning of all electronics, appliances
  3. Drying and restoration of documents
  4. Art Restoration
  5. Cleaning of bookshelves, shelving, furnishings and light fixtures

What services do we provide?

  • Fire & Smoke Damage Restoration for Home-owners
  • Fire & Smoke Damage Restoration for Business-owners
  • Fire & Smoke Damage Restoration for Places of Worship
  • Fire & Smoke Damage Restoration for Educational Institutions
  • Fire & Smoke Damage Restoration for Multi-Family Properties
  • Fire & Smoke Damage Restoration for Medical Facilities 
  • Fire & Smoke Damage Restoration for Office Spaces 
  • Fire & Smoke Damage Restoration for Manufacturing Facilities

What equipment do we use?

Air Scrubbers: Air scrubbers use High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filtration to remove these particles from the air, enhancing the efficiency for cleaning and clearing the air for safe breathing. Please do not move or turn off this equipment.

Thermal Fogging: This process neutralizes odor, using a strong deodorizer that penetrates everywhere the smoke traveled and will require the removal of pets, plants and humans occupants for a short period of time.

Ozone: Ozone is an oxidizing agent produced by a portable ozone generator. This process will require the removal of pets, plants and human occupants for a short period of time.

OdorKlenz Technology: This environmentally friendly deodorizing process removes odors and particulates using OdorKlenz air cartridges in traditional air scrubbers. Safe for people, pets and plants.


What are some extra tips to help prevent fires in the first place? 

  • Switch to flameless candles 
  • Make sure your fire sprinklers are maintained 
  • Have a fire extinguisher readily available in all areas of the church 
  • Install a proper fire alarm system 


How much will it cost?

The costs of restoration depend on the insurance provider you have. Fortunately though, as a QRV or Quality Restoration Vendor, ServiceMaster Restoration By Simons is part of the elite group of national ServiceMaster franchises chosen to take part in the national contract agreements with most major insurance companies. Some of the insurance companies we work directly with include State Farm, Allstate, Liberty Mutual, Hanover, Chubb, Asco, Progressive, Travelers, USAA, Farmers, Nationwide, AIC, Zurich, American Family, and Erie, among others. That means that we prescribe to the strict guidelines and to the required estimating software administered by these insurance companies and provide a direct pipeline to your insurance company. It also means that you don’t have to be the middle person in the process. We work and communicate directly with your insurance provider to ensure your property is correctly restored after water damage, bringing your property back to its pre-loss conditions.

ServiceMaster Restoration By Simons is a MBE/WBE certified firm and family-run company serving Chicago, Oak Park, River Forest, and the North Shore.  ServiceMaster Restoration By Simons provides disaster restoration services including Water & Flood Damage Restoration, Fire & Smoke Damage Restoration, Mold Remediation and a wide range of interior specialty cleaning including Hoarder & Clutter Cleaning, Post-Construction Cleaning,Carpet Cleaning and Upholstery Cleaning to residential and commercial customers residing in Chicago, Oak Park-River Forest and the North Shore.  For more information, give us a call at 773-376-1110 or visit servicemasterbysimons.com.

Nasutsa Mabwa
Nasutsa Mabwa
Nasutsa Mabwa is President of ServiceMaster by Simons, a MBE/WBE City of Chicago and State of Illinois certified firm. She is a 2018 Chicago Business Journal Influential Women in Business Honoree, a member of Crain’s Chicago Business 40 under 40 and a 2018 ServiceMaster(c) Achiever Award recipient. She is a Civic Federation Board Member, an Advisory Board Member for Roosevelt University’s Marshall Bennett Institute of Real Estate, and serves on the Executive Committee for the Evanston Chamber of Commerce. She is IICRC certified for WRT & FSRT.