historic main street in downtown

How to Prevent and Restore Fire Damage in Historic Properties

What Makes a Building Historic?

Although it’s easy to declare that an older and much-loved home or commercial building is historic, the actual accepted definition is far more exacting. According to the National Register of  Historic Places, a building is only considered to be historic if it meets several criteria:

It must be more than 50 years old (with one or two exceptions) AND one or more of the following conditions must be met.

Historic Property Criteria:

  1. It’s connected to a significant historical event or is associated with events that have made a significant contribution to the broad patterns of our history. For example, the John Wornall House in the Brookside neighborhood of Kansas City was a field hospital for troops fighting on both sides of the Civil War. The old Paseo YMCA (now the Buck O’Neil Education and Research Center) in the 18th and Vine district of Kansas City is significant because the Negro National League was founded there in 1920.
  2. It is connected to the life of a significant individual. One example of this is the Harry S Truman National Historic Site in Independence, MO.
  3. It is considered to be an embodiment of a particular architectural style, method of construction, architect, or “master” or possess high artistic values, or represent a significant and distinguishable entity whose components may lack individual distinction. For example, the Benner House in Weston, MO, is an example of the Steamboat Gothic style of the late 1800s.
  4. It has provided or will provide information important in prehistory or history.

Historic Properties are Particularly Vulnerable to Fires

Historic buildings, by their very definitions, were built in simpler times. They were not designed with the same safety requirements or fire-resistant building materials in use today. Wood burns easily, and wood that has had decades or centuries to dry out burns particularly easily. Historic buildings can tend to have large rooms, connected cavities, ventilation shafts, chimney vents, and old cellar shafts that are conducive to quickly spreading flames once they have started. Aged wiring that is not up to code can also cause problems.

No matter how careful you are, fire is always a risk. Even such meticulously maintained historic buildings as Windsor Castle (1992) and the Notre Dame (2019) faced crippling damage from fires that started accidentally.

Restoration of a Historic Property Isn’t a Job for Amateurs 

If you own a historic property and experience a fire, it’s crucial to partner with an experienced fire disaster restoration company who understands the needs of historic properties.

Has Fire Damaged Your Historic Business or Home?

Here are 10 steps you can take immediately after a fire has damaged your historic business building or historic home.

  1. First of all, your safety is paramount. Do not enter the building unless the fire department has decreed that it is safe. 
  2. Call your insurance agent to start a claim.
  3. Call Midwest Comfort Homes at (816) 988-8297 for same-day service. Our certified service team will be dispatched to your site to help guide you through the restoration process. We’ll also board up and tarp off any areas of the home to prevent further damage and protect your belongings.
  4. Be aware that there may be toxins in the air that could cause discomfort, so properly ventilate the building when you enter to remove valuables or to assess the damage. 
  5. Do not wipe any soot off the walls or begin a clean up of any kind until the damage has been assessed by your insurer.
  6. The Midwest Comfort Homes (MCH) team will conduct a walk through inspection, creating a 3D scan of the damage. After the inspection, MCH will create a detailed damage report which will be sent to your insurance carrier. MCH will contact and work with your insurance adjuster for rapid restoration bid approval.
  7. Get a copy of the fire report from your fire department.
  8. Take pictures of all damage and list all items destroyed. It’s also recommended to take a yearly inventory and photos to help contrast damage photos. 
  9. If you have much-loved plants that survived the fire, wipe them down to remove soot.
  10. MCH will coordinate with a disaster mitigation company, who will secure and clear your home of damaged materials. Disaster mitigation is the process of reducing or preventing damage caused by a disaster such as fire. Before restoration work can begin, a disaster mitigation company will clean out the damaged space. This will leave a blank slate for the restoration process. Other steps important in disaster mitigation:
    • Covering damaged roofs with temporary tarps or roofing to prevent water damage
    • Covering damaged window and door openings to keep the building secure and protected from weather
    • Bracing or removing unstable building elements
    • Removing or drying out any materials damaged by water in the fire fighting process

Once the disaster mitigation process is finished, MCH will begin restoration work. We will design building repairs to meet current building code requirements while working with you to maintain the historical integrity of your much-loved home or historical building. 

Trusted Restoration Company for Your Historic Kansas City Area Property

MCH is a fully licensed restoration company with years of experience working with insurance carriers. We’ll help guide you through the confusing fire restoration process. Our fire restoration experts will help you understand each step of the cleanup and restoration process. 

Our goal is to have you back in your home as soon as possible. Call Midwest Comfort Homes at (816) 988-8297 or contact us online to start your restoration today.