Smoke Damage

Correctly identifying exposure to smoke is critical to assessing the need and the extent of remediation that can be justified on an insurance claim.

Structural fires, protein fires (cooking) and wildfires produce smoke. Smoke is the visible airborne product of combustion, and consists of particles, liquids, aerosols and gasses, some of which condense as solids. Combustion particles are a part of the environment and a typical component of dust. However, uncontrolled wildfires and structure fires may subject buildings and surrounding areas to concentrations of smoke particles and residues sufficient to affect the appearance and utility of building surfaces. Heavy smoke deposition is evident as a coating of dark particles, often accompanied by a pungent odor. Depending on the fuel and temperature of combustion, residues may be corrosive or exhibit other unwelcome chemical effects.

Indoor environments are impacted by a wide variety of combustion sources; fireplaces, cigarettes, cigars, pipes, ovens, electrostatic filters, heat exchange surfaces in gas or oil furnaces, use of power saws or drills, candles or oil lamps, printers and copy machines, toasters with or without burnt toast and other activities or products which contribute to the combustion sources in the indoor space. External sources of combustion products also enter and impact the indoor environment; pollens, tire wear, natural minerals, plant parts, many types of fungal spores, fly ash, charred wood from neighboring fireplaces or restaurants, and other markers are always present to some extent.  They are often a very significant fraction of the total particle load in an indoor space.

Given the vast number of combustion sources, the characterization of combustion particles is an essential part of establishing the presence of debris from a wildfire.  Based on wildfire signature assemblages, Safeguard EnviroGroup uses a highly specialized laboratory analysis that can positively identify combustion particles to a specific wildfire event or that of an alternative combustion source present in every home. Laboratory methodology currently used by other Hygienists simply identifies particles as originating from a combustion source.

Unfortunately, there are a large number of sources for soot and combustion particles in every environment independent of an uncontrolled fire event. In the case of wildfires, forest, chaparral, and savannahs are not made up of one or two plant types, but dozens of different plants. In any significant wildfire event, burnt plant material from these indigenous plants are the small aerosolized particles that travel with the dominant winds carrying the smoke.  The extreme heat generated by the combustion process reduces vegetation to ash, which is feather-light and easily transported in the environment. Other fuels, such as vehicles, buildings and building contents may burn and contribute to the mix of chemicals and particles that are found in smoke, soot, and ash. Winds generated by larger weather patterns may transport smoke great distances. Particles of charred debris often continue to deposit long after the fire was extinguished. This collection of particles becomes the unmistakable signature of that wildfire.  This signature forms the assemblage of particles marking the specific wildfire. Unlike other Hygienist companies, Safeguard EnviroGroup can positively identify these signature particles, so there is no mistaking the origin of the particles.

Safeguard EnviroGroup continues to be the distinct leader in smoke damage assessments. The experts at Safeguard EnviroGroup have conducted hundreds of smoke damage assessments including structure fires, protein fires and every major Southern California wildfire in modern history. Safeguard EnviroGroup continues to develop state-of-the-art, science based investigative and analytical methodology providing our clients defensible and indisputable results. Safeguard EnviroGroup is acknowledged among insurance carriers, attorneys, Independent and Public Adjusters as being impartial and unbiased. Our thorough, comprehensive and defensible smoke damage assessments are well accepted by all involved parties as fair and accurate, and are rarely challenged.

Safeguard EnviroGroup continues to pursue and develop state-of-the-art, science based investigative and analytical methodology providing our clients defensible and indisputable results. The cost for Safeguard EnviroGroup Smoke Damage Assessment is comparable with other hygienist firms and our turnaround time is among the fastest. Our Smoke Damage Assessment is comprehensive and thorough, including interior and exterior areas, attic and garage. The cost of the Smoke Damage Assessment is $1450.00 plus $75.00/per optical microscopy sample. Additional fees would apply for other extensive laboratory services which may include TEM, SEM and/or GCMS.

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