How to Start a Fire and Restoration Company

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Post-fire cleanup work can be gratifying and lucrative if you develop a reputation for honest, thorough work.
Post-fire cleanup work can be gratifying and lucrative if you develop a reputation for honest, thorough work. (Image: burnt house image by pavel siamionov from Fotolia.com)

If you don’t mind being on call 24/7 and seek a career that helps put people’s properties and lives back together after major catastrophes, you should consider a post-fire cleanup and restoration career. Specialize in either residential or industrial properties, or become the go-to resource for both. Invest time and money marketing your company once you’ve nailed your training and acquired equipment and supplies—before long, you’ll find yourself in the company of some extremely grateful clients.

Things You'll Need

  • Racking system
  • Personal protective gear
  • Detergents
  • Disinfectants
  • Antifungal/antibacterial agents
  • Wet vacuums
  • Cyclonic fans
  • Camera

Explore a variety of educational experiences that take into account both the theory and practice of fire cleanup and restoration. Find local training programs—most are hosted by companies that sell and service the equipment and supplies required to do this type of job—so you’re as well versed in the disposal of hazardous waste as you are about protecting yourself from harm when you enter a still-smoldering building.

Rent an industrial facility to serve as a base of operations for your fire cleanup and restoration business. Install racks for warehouse cleaning supplies needed to neutralize the aftereffects and smells of fires: industrial cleaners, antimicrobials to inhibit mold and mildew growth, and odor-fighting solutions. Stock up on personal protective gear to keep you safe as you're doing your job, including flame-retardant overalls, gloves, ventilating mask with filters, shoe coverings and hard hats.

Use the bulk of your start-up money to purchase the heavy equipment required for fire and flood remediation: You'll need to buy motor-driven water-suction rigs, hydraulic machines built to tear out damaged walls and flooring, and industrial cyclonic fans designed to ventilate rooms after water and building contents have been removed. Add a digital camera to your must-have list to capture before, during and after shots of post-fire jobs so insurance companies have proof of the extent to which the facility has been damaged and restored.

Obtain permits and licenses that your fire and restoration company will need to comply with local laws. Ask about special permits to cover toxic chemicals you'll need to stock to tackle fire-damaged surfaces. Give your credit information to private refuse companies in advance so all it will take is a phone call to have dumpsters dropped off at future restoration jobs.

Build up relationships with insurance adjusters so your company is on speed dial for post-fire cleanup claims. Ask adjusters to list credentials they need to justify hiring you—certifications, completion of classes or proof of licensing. Obtain copies of insurance company claim forms so you know what to include when you file damage cleanup reports.

Take advantage of marketing workshops, classes, seminars, books, CDs and DVDs written exclusively for folks in the fire and restoration business, often offered by the same companies that provide your supplies and equipment (see Resources). Learn from individuals who have been in the restoration industry for decades about how to market your services, get referrals, place ads and find ways to generate business—even on a shoestring budget.

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