The South Holland Department would like to express its sympathy for your property loss because of the fire/natural disaster at your residence. The emotional trauma of a fire/natural disaster is something you will never forget. In the days, weeks and months to come, you will face the difficult task of replacing and recovering as much of your loss as possible; cleaning, repairing, and rebuilding of your property; and attempting to resume your normal life as soon as possible. We hope the following information will help guide you through this difficult time.
Unfortunately, there are people and businesses that prey on victims when they are most vulnerable, such as individuals whose homes and property have been destroyed or damaged by fire/natural disaster like yours. We urge you not to sign any contract, or pay money, to any individual or business who says they can "expedite" your insurance claim or provide any other special restoration services. If you are approached by any such individuals please contact your insurance agent or the South Holland Fire Department at (708) 331-3123 before signing any agreement or contract.
Do not allow any "inspectors" or "investigators" onto your property without the proper identification. We will under normal circumstances conduct our investigation immediately after the fire is out. If a follow up investigation is required, it will be conducted during normal business hours. Fire department investigators will be in fire department uniforms and will arrive in a fire department vehicle. You should ask for identification from any and all investigators. If you should have questions about anyone posing as an inspector or investigator feel free to contact us at the South Holland Fire Department (708) 331-3123 or the South Holland Police Department (708) 331-3131.
If you require temporary shelter, food, clothing, or other services, we can contact the Red Cross or the Salvation Army.
The American Red Cross: (312) 729-6100 The Salvation Army: (773) 725-1100
Contact your insurance agent immediately after the fire/natural disaster. Your insurance agent can assist you in making arrangements to secure your property from additional damage or loss through theft.
If you are a tenant, contact the resident manager, owner of property, or the owner’s insurance agent. It is the owner's responsibility to prevent further loss to the site. You should see that your personal belongs are secure or removed to a safe location, such as a relative or friend's home.
If you do not have insurance or your insurance is not adequate to cover your total loss, any uninsured or underinsured portion may be deductible from your income tax. You should contact a qualified tax attorney, accountant, or the IRS for assistance on claiming fire/natural disaster loss. Keep receipts for any money you spend. These receipts are important in showing your insurance company what expense you have incurred due to your fire/natural disaster loss and for verifying your losses on your Income Tax return.
A good idea is to use a camera and/or a video recorder to document your fire/natural disaster damage with still photos and/or video. This should be done as soon as possible after the loss, but if the loss is at night, you may have to wait till daylight to get quality photos and/or video. We will be taking photos of the scene as well, but these are for our records and investigation. We cannot take loss documentation photos for you.
Damaged or Melted Coins must be returned to the U.S. Mint. You may contact them by calling (215) 597-4983 for details.
Damaged Currency must be taken to the nearest Federal Reserve Bank. Currency that is at least 50% or more intact is automatically replaced. The Federal Reserve Bank decides if currency that is more than 50% damaged will be replaced. If your currency is more than 50% damaged contact us here at the Fire Department to obtain a copy of our fire report for your incident before you go to the Federal Reserve Bank. The Federal Reserve Bank does not normally replace currency that is more than 50% damaged, but may make an exception if there is supporting evidence for the cause of currency damage.
Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, 230 S LaSalle, Chicago, IL (312) 322-5322
Damaged U.S. Savings Bonds: Go to any bank that issues Savings Bonds and request Public Debt Form 1048. Complete and mail form to address indicated. It will take approximately two to three months to replace your Savings Bonds. If you have question you may call (800) 553-2663
Damaged Stocks and Bonds: For information on your damaged stock certificates or bonds, contact either your broker that sold the stocks and bonds to you or the company responsible for issuing the certificates.
Personal Documents: If you receive AFDC or welfare benefits, notify your case worker if your ID cards are destroyed or lost in the fire/natural disaster. For loss of all other personal documents -- birth certificates, marriage license, death certificates, etc.—contact the County Clerk in the county where the birth, marriage, death, etc. took place.
Clothing: Smoke and water damage requires special cleaning techniques; do not send your damaged items to ordinary dry cleaners. Improper cleaning will cause stains and odor to become permanent. Your insurance agent should be able to recommend an experienced dry cleaner. When taking your items to a dry cleaner, be sure to explain that items were damaged in a fire/natural disaster so that they can be treated properly.
If the items can be washed, smoke and water stains and odors can be removed by pre-treating. If items can be bleached, a possible mix is:
4 to 6 tablespoons of tri-sodium phosphate (TSP™)
(available at most hardware, home center, and paint supply stores)
1 cup Lysol™ or household bleach
1 gallon of water
Mix the tri-sodium (TSP™), Lysol™, or bleach and water. Soak items in the mix. Remove the items, rinsing thoroughly with clear water and air dry. It is a good idea to spot test items before treating.
Mildew: To help prevent mildew, remove wet or damp items from house as soon as possible and allow items to air dry, preferably in the sunshine. To remove mildew, you can wash the stain with warm, soapy water, rinse well and allow to air dry in the sunshine. Difficult stains can also be removed by trying to wash items with lemon juice; or a diluted solution of chlorine bleach. It is a good idea to spot test items before treating.
Interior Surfaces: Allow soot to dry for at least 24 hours. Trying to remove soot before it dries will only spread the stain and possibly cause it to become permanent. After the soot has dried, try cleaning the surfaces with the previously mentioned tri-sodium (TSP™) and Lysol™ mix described above for cleaning clothes. There are commercial cleaning products available at most hardware, home centers, and paint stores. Commercial cleaners can be very powerful, read and follow all directions and warnings. Remember when using any cleaning solution to use proper protective measures i.e. rubber gloves, mask, and old clothing, etc. After cleaning rinse with clear water and allow to air dry. Washable wallpaper can be cleaned in the same manner using caution not to soak the paper.
To avoid streaking, start at the base of the surface and work upwards. Doing top surface or ceiling last. Allow surfaces to air dry completely before repainting. If your HVAC is operable your air conditioner can be used to promote drying. Remember to change the filters before use and at frequent intervals.
Wood Furniture and Fixtures:
Clean off all mud, ash and dirt.
Remove all drawers and allow to air dry.
Wet wood decays and molds easily. Ventilate the room to allow air drying. If furniture is moveable, it can be allowed to air dry outside out of direct sunlight.
Surfaces can be scrubbed with a stiff brush and previously mentioned cleaning solution. It is a good idea to spot test items before cleaning.
Mold on furniture can be removed with a clean cloth soaked in a mixture of water and kerosene or water and Borax™.
To remove white water spots or other stains from wood surfaces, try rubbing the area with 4/0 steel wool polishing dipped in liquid furniture wax. Wipe and buff with a dry, clean, soft cloth.
THERE ARE COMMERCIAL CLEANERS AVAILABLE FOR RESTORING AND CLEANING WOOD. MANY OF THESE PRODUCTS HAVE FLAMMABLE AND HARMFUL VAPORS AND SHOULD BE USED WITH CAUTION. PLEASE READ AND FOLLOW ALL PRECAUTIONS AND DIRECTIONS.
Remove all excess water possible by mopping, pumping, vacuuming with a wet vac, etc.
Remove and hang furniture cushions to permit air drying on all surfaces.
Rugs should be removed, cleaned, and allowed to air dry.
Carpets should be vacuumed with a wet vac to remove as much water as possible, then cleaned and allowed to air dry. If stains or odor remain the carpet and pad will have to removed and replaced.
Linoleum creates a special problem. If water should get under it, it will cause odors and possibly warp sub floor. Check with an experienced flooring installer for assistance on this type of floor covering.
Luggage and suitcases should be opened and allowed to air dry. Placing outdoors in the sunlight to aid in drying.
Remove paintings and other objects of art to a safe and secure place until they can be repaired or restored.
Dispose of all food, beverages, and medicines exposed to fire, smoke or water.
Contents of refrigerators and freezers should be discarded if power supply was interrupted.
Have all wiring, gas lines, and plumbing checked by a qualified person before restoring utilities such as electric, gas or water.
Have your HVAC checked by a service technician before using. Remember to change filters before using and at frequent intervals to remove all air borne soot and contaminants.
Drain water lines and pour RV anti freeze into drains if temperature is expected to drop below freezing.
Wash house plants with clean clear water, taking care to wash both sides of leaves and stem.
Clean and protect chrome and metal trim with Vaseline™ or other light oil.
Pets that have been exposed to smoke, fire, or heat should be examined by a veterinarian.
If you must relocate the following parties should be notified:
Family and Friends
Remain watchful for signs of heat or smoke, a fire can rekindle from hidden, smoldering remains.
Be watchful for structural damage from the fire/natural disaster.
Hang furs and leather goods separately at room temperature to air dry. If serious smoke or water damage has occurred consult an expert on best way to clean and treat damage.
Ask your neighbors to watch property. Inform police for extra patrol.
Do not enter any areas with sagging floors or ceilings.
Do not throw away any damaged items without taking inventory and providing documentation.
Do not operate any VCR, video equipment, TV, stereo, computer, or electrical appliance until it has been cleaned and checked. If a dry chemical fire extinguisher was used, vacuum any residue to prevent damage to the appliance.
Do not open your safe/lock box. Safe/lock boxes can hold heat for several hours and if the door is opened contents may ignite with the introduction of fresh air.
Do not use a household vacuum to pick up water, only use a wet vac.
Do not leave wet books, magazines, or other colored items on wet carpet, floors or other surfaces.
Some of your property damage may have been a result of our efforts to extinguish the fire. When a fire occurs in a building it creates a large amount of very hot gases and smoke. The fire department may open or break windows, cut holes in the roof or walls to vent these hot gases and smoke from the building. This will prevent more damage caused by the gases and smoke and allows us to find the fire and extinguish it quicker. We are trained in proper ventilation techniques and do not make any more openings than necessary. You may find openings in walls and ceilings. These openings were made to find hidden pockets of fire and smoldering embers. These hidden pockets can smolder for hours and suddenly erupt, destroying what is left of your home or business.
We will do what we can to help you find and remove any valuables. However, as soon as the fire is out we must get our equipment and manpower back in service so we can prepare to respond to our next call. Often, people want to go inside their home or business immediately after the fire/natural disaster, even if it is to just look around. Usually, it is unsafe to allow this and we will not allow you to enter. However, if we feel in our opinion it is safe to enter the building we will escort you inside. If you were alerted to the fire by your smoke detectors, we commend you on having these inexpensive devices. If your smoke detectors did not work, we want to know so we can try to find out why not. If you did not have smoke detectors, we must remind you that state law requires you to have both smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors in every residence, because these inexpensive devices are proven to save lives and reduce property loss.
Although it might be obvious, after a fire, our fire investigators need to be thorough in determining the origin and cause of the fire. It is because of this that most fire reports will not be able to be completed in just one day. If you have insurance, your insurance company will request a copy, however, if you require a copy of the initial fire report, it will take up to one week from the date of the fire to be completed. Reports can be picked up at the South Holland Fire Department, 16230 Wausau Avenue between 9:00am and 4:00pm Monday through Friday not including holidays.
Again, we are sorry you suffered the devastation of a fire or natural disaster. If you have any questions and/or comments, please call us at (708) 331-3123.