Wildfire Impact Assessments

After a Wildfire, Do I need to hire an industrial hygienist and other qualified experts? “It Depends” is the answer, which sounds vague, but it is not.

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  • After a wildfire, communities will have various degrees of damaged and smoke impacted structures and it may be necessary to have them inspected or tested by experts before occupancy.
  • It is necessary to have non-fire damaged buildings inspected and tested? Generally, no. In a light wildfire impaction situation, the building owners may feel comfortable doing their own work.
  • In more severe situations, building owners or their representatives may need to hire experts. Initially, a visual property inspection, assessment, photo documentation, and report written by qualified experts should be sufficient to document property and content damage and identify the means and methods of cleanup and repair.
  • A few situations may require inspection by experts. These include, but are not limited to:
    • When property around buildings or the building itself is charred or experienced high heat damage it should be inspected by licensed contractors.
    • Buildings having their power interrupted because of a power outage or burnt wiring, should be inspected by utilities, an electrician, or both.
    • When neighboring buildings burnt, where there could be a release of toxic materials, they should be inspected by environmental experts.
    • When you or other individuals in your family or business experience health effects when entering the building, surface and air quality should be sampled and analyzed.
    • When there is moderate to high levels of smoke and/or particulate impaction in the building, attic insulation, and HVAC system, an industrial hygienist and other qualified experts should inspect the property and determine if sampling is necessary.
    • When there is an increase in risk or liability, materially interested parties (e.g., mortgage, insurer, CPA) may require independent verification of the extent of heat damage or smoke and particulate impaction, where their documents support the cost of cleanup and repair.
  • The focus of this bulletin examines the qualifications of experts, investigation processes, the types of sampling and analysis methods, and the interpretation of lab data that drives cleanup and restoration reports.

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