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AFTER A FIRE RECOVERY PLAN

The Cape Coral Fire Department extends our deepest sympathy because of your loss and resulting hardships. The information contained in this page is designed to help you with recovery from your fire incident. If you have any other questions that are not addressed in this page, please do not hesitate to contact the Fire Prevention Bureau (239) 242-3264.

Fire Reports

Fire reports are available after the building is released by the fire department and the investigation into the cause is complete, usually three to five business days. To request a report, please contact the City Clerk's Office.

Immediately After the Fire

Your home may be seriously damaged and contaminated from the fire. Soot and smoke contain dangerous chemicals and toxic gasses that are invisible to the naked eye. Firefighters use special equipment to measure the level of toxic gases in the air. If/When the incident commander declares the residence safe, a fire department representative will escort you through your residence. He or she will point out certain structural damages that are visible at the time, however there can be unseen damage to your home. Be careful not to move objects or cause further damage to the structure. Do not remove any objects in the area of origin as your insurance company may want to take pictures of the damage and see any appliances present during the fire. Please note, if the structure is deemed unstable, you will not be allowed to enter. 

If there is sufficient damage to your home, the building department will be notified in order to inspect the property as well. If it is unsafe to stay in your home, the fire department representative will assist you in obtaining temporary shelter, if available, through the Red Cross. Your homeowner’s insurance may also provide you with temporary housing, clothing, food and other items related to fire loss. Keep track of your receipts; they can be proof for reimbursement and may be used as a discount on your state and federal taxes for this year.

Before leaving the scene, the fire department will secure the residence as best it can with the resources available. It is recommended that you place tarps or plastic sheeting over openings. If the need for security is present, you may want to contact your insurance company to see if it can help. Professional fire and water damage restoration businesses may be a good resource. Companies offering this service can be found online. Remember, after the fire department releases the structure/scene, the matter of security becomes the responsibility of the owner and the occupant.

It is the responsibility of the owner/occupant to notify the insurance company. If your vehicle is damaged, you will also need to contact your auto insurance. If you rent the residence, you need to contact the owner of the property at the first available moment. They in turn will need to contact their insurance company. Remember that the landlord’s insurance only covers his or her property. Your belongings are not insured through the landlord’s policy. If you rent, we recommend that you carry renter’s insurance. If you do have insurance, you will need to contact your representative as soon as possible.

Utilities

The utilities in your home have most probably been turned off to prevent injury to the firefighters and prevent further damage to the structure. DO NOT turn the water, gas or electric power on yourself. Contact your utility company for further instructions.

Often a licensed plumber or electrician must make repairs before service can be restored. They will not usually reconnect until the Building Department has signed an authorization.

If You Are Displaced from Your Home

Food, clothing and shelter are the priority. The fire department representative will help you request basic assistance from various agencies. These include: 

  • American Red Cross

(239) 278-3401 (If after hours, follow the instructions provided by the answering system)
7051 Cypress Terrace #110, Fort Myers, FL 33907
Assistance for food, clothing, and shelter

  • Salvation Army

(239) 278-1551
10291 McGregor Boulevard, Fort Myers, FL 33919
Clothing and some furniture

  • Lee County Human Services Department

(239) 533-7930
2440 Thompson St, Fort Myers, FL 33901

  • Various local churches have assistance programs to help people in need

If the fire caused enough damage to the structure that a considerable amount of construction must be done to re-occupy the residence, or if the electric meter has been pulled, a Building Inspector from the City of Cape Coral Building Department must be notified. Proper building permits must be obtained before construction to the damaged structure can begin. If the residence has been damaged to the point that construction must be done, you or your insurance carrier may want to contact a disaster restoration specialist company.

If you need to relocate or move for a period of time, below is a partial list of agencies to contact:

  • U.S. Post Office

  • Your Bank

  • Water Company

  • Power Company

  • Gas Company

  • Cable Service

  • Internet Service

  • Telephone Service

  • Children’s Schools

  • Newspaper

Items in the Home

Medication: Call your physician to obtain emergency medications. Medication in the home should not be consumed due to dangerous contamination from the smoke.

Food: Do not keep any food items that have been exposed to heat and smoke. Toxins from the smoke may penetrate cardboard boxes and plastic wrappings. It is best to throw out all these items.

Cleaning: Your home may have received minor damage to where you just need to clean up certain areas so you can re-occupy it. If there is extensive damage to articles of furniture, clothing, appliances etc. that can be saved, you may want to check with your insurance about a disaster restoration specialist or other company that specializes in stain and odor removal.

 

There are various solutions to clean walls, wash clothing, and remove odors. Check to see what health and hazard precautions need to be taken when using cleaning solutions. Test a small area first to be sure that the solution will not harm the article that you want to clean.

  • Clothing: Smoke odor and soot can sometimes be washed from clothing.  The following formula will often work for clothing that can be bleached:

    • 4-6 teaspoons trisodium phosphate (can be purchased in paint stores)

    • 1 cup household chlorine bleach

    • 1 gallon warm water

Be sure to wear rubber gloves. Mix well, add clothes, rinse with clean water, and dry thoroughly.

An effective way to remove mildew from clothing is to wash the fresh stain with soap and warm water, rinse, and then dry in the sun. If the stain has not disappeared, use lemon juice and salt or a diluted solution of household chlorine bleach.

  • Cooking Utensils: Pots, pans, flatware, etc., should be washed with soapy water, rinsed, and then polished with a fine-powder cleaner. Copper and brass can be polished with special polish, salt sprinkled on a piece of lemon, or salt sprinkled on a cloth saturated with vinegar.

 

  • Walls, Floors, and Windows: To remove soot and smoke from walls, furniture and floors, use a mild soap or detergent or mix together the following solution:

    • 4-6 tablespoons trisodium phosphate (can be purchased in paint stores)

    • 1 cup household chlorine bleach

    • 1 gallon warm water

Be sure to wear rubber gloves and rinse walls and furniture with clear warm water and dry thoroughly after washing with this solution. Wash a small area of wall at one time, working from the floor up. Ceilings should be washed last. If the weather allows, open windows and use a fan to circulate air.

Do not repaint until walls and ceilings are completely dry.

Wallpaper can also be repaired. Use a commercial paste to re-adhere a loose edge or section. Contact a wallpaper dealer or installer for information on wallpaper cleaners. Washable wallpaper can be cleansed like any ordinary wall, but care must be taken not to soak the paper. Work from bottom to top to prevent streaking.

 

  • Rugs and Carpet: Throw rugs can be cleaned by beating, sweeping, or vacuuming and then shampooing. Rugs should be dried as quickly as possible. Even though the surface seems dry, moisture remaining at the base of the tufts can quickly cause a rug to rot. Lay them flat and expose them to a circulation of warm, dry air. A fan turned on the rugs will speed drying.

For information on cleaning and preserving carpets, call a carpet dealer or installer or a qualified carpet cleaning professional.

  • Photographs: Preserving damaged photographs is often very important to victims of fires, floods, and other disasters. If photographs are not burned, they can usually be saved.

 

Never try to peel apart photographs that have stuck together; let stuck photographs separate on their own. Soak the photos in clear, clean water and rinse carefully and thoroughly. Dry photos image side up on a smooth hard surface. If there are a large number of wet photos, wrap them in plastic wrap and freeze them, then thaw and wash a few at a time. If photos stay damp they can be damaged by mold.

  • Leather and Books: Wipe leather goods with a damp cloth and then with a dry cloth. Stuff purses and shoes with newspapers to retain their shape. Suitcases should be left open. Steel wool or a suede brush can be used on suede. Leather and suede jackets can be rinsed in cold water. All leather goods should be dried away from heat and sun. After leather goods are dry, clean with saddle soap.

Books can be dried by placing them on end with pages separated. They should be piled and pressed to prevent the pages from crinkling. Alternating drying and pressing will prevent books from mildewing until they are thoroughly dry. Cornstarch or talc can be sprinkled between the pages of very damp books. Leave for several hours, then brush off. A fan turned on the books will help them dry.

  • Wood Furniture: Do not dry wood furniture in the sun. The wood will warp and twist out of shape.

Clear off mud and dirt. Scrub wood furniture or fixtures with a stiff brush and a cleaning solution. If the piece has drawers, remove them and let them dry thoroughly so they will not stick when reinserted. Wet wood can decay and mold, so dry thoroughly. Open doors and windows for good ventilation. Turn on furnace or air conditioner, if necessary. If mold forms, wipe the wood with a cloth soaked in a mixture of borax dissolved in hot water.

To remove white spots or film, rub the wood surface with a cloth soaked in a solution of 1/2 cup household ammonia and 1/2 cup water. Then wipe the surface dry and polish with wax or rub with a cloth soaked in a solution of 1/2 cup turpentine and 1/2 cup linseed oil. Be careful - turpentine is combustible! Remember, oily rags can start fires by spontaneous combustion. Put all used rags in an airtight metal container, like a paint can, and place outside away from your home.

Wood surfaces can also be cleaned with a fine grade steel wool pad dipped in liquid polishing wax, wiped clean with a soft cloth, and then buffed.

  • Electrical Appliances: Do not use appliances that have been exposed to water or steam until they have been checked by a service representative. This is especially true of electrical appliances. In addition, steam can remove the lubricant from some moving parts.

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MAILING ADDRESS:

PO Box 150027
Cape Coral, FL 33915

FIRE HEADQUARTERS/

EMERGENCY OPERATIONS CENTER ADDRESS:

1115 SE 9th Ave.
Cape Coral, FL 33990