Safety after the fire. Even though the flames are out after a fire, a number of toxic substances remain that can be hazardous to an adjuster’s health. (Photo: Sean Scott)

When property claims adjusters are assigned a fire loss, they are often on scene within hours of the fire being extinguished. The claims process typically begins with the adjuster meeting with the insured, taking photos of the damage, sketching the building layout, writing a repair estimate, compiling an inventory of lost or damaged personal property, and other tasks. This requires adjusters to spend hours and sometimes days walking amongst the ash and fire debris. However, what insurance professionals may not realize is that entering a fire-damaged structure, especially one that has recently been boarded up, can pose a serious health risk.

Although the flames are out, the smoke has cleared, and the fire department has removed the yellow tape, the fire scene is not as safe as one might think. Toxic volatile organic compounds (VOCs) created by the vast array of materials and products, that burned are in a state of off-gassing, saturating the indoor air with poisonous gases and particulates.

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