Recent Fire Damage Posts

What Is The Proper Way To Use A Fire Extinguisher?

9/21/2021 (Permalink)

You may never have used a fire extinguisher before, and it can be a little daunting even to consider. When it comes to fire safety, it’s better to be safe than sorry, however! The time to learn how to handle a fire extinguisher is when there is no emergency, giving you time to think about what you are doing and practice the steps. Being proactive by learning this critical skill in advance of a fire emergency is one smart way to guard the safety of your Byron Center home or business.

Below you will find the steps to follow for the proper use of a fire extinguisher, as well as some further information to help you:

What Are The Correct Steps To Take When Using My Fire Extinguisher To Protect My Byron Center Property?

The P.A.S.S. method is the most highly recommended method to use when handling a fire extinguisher:

  • Pull the pin on the extinguisher.
  • Aim the hose nozzle low toward the base of the fire.
  • Squeeze the handle to release the extinguishing agent.
  • Sweep the nozzle from side to side at the base of the flames until extinguished.

What More Do I Need To Know About Handling A Fire At My Byron Center Property?

Knowing how to operate the extinguisher is not all you need to understand. Responders to fire also should be able to adhere to the following protocol:

  • Sound the fire alarm or call the fire department immediately.
  • Before approaching the fire, determine an evacuation route away from flames, excessive heat, and smoke, and keep this evacuation route from being blocked.
  • Use the P.A.S.S. technique for discharging an extinguisher and back away from the area if the fire flares up again.
  • If the extinguisher is empty and the fire is not out, evacuate immediately.
  • If the fire grows beyond what you can handle safely, evacuate immediately.

According to O.S.H.A., the most common emergency small businesses need to plan for is fire. O.S.H.A. requires employers to thoroughly train workers on an annual basis at minimum how to use an extinguisher properly and assess a situation accurately to determine when evacuation is the safest course of action. 

You can find more fire extinguisher information here.

When it comes to damage from fire, water, or any other disaster of any size  SERVPRO of South and Northwest Grand Rapids is here to help! In addition to fire damage, we handle many other kinds of issues, such as mold remediation and commercial cleaning.

We can get your home or business Certified: SERVPRO Cleaned!

This franchise is Independently Owned and Operated

Maintaining Your Smoke Detectors

7/13/2021 (Permalink)

Smoke detectors are not something we pay much attention to during our day-to-day living, but they immediately become essential if a fire happens! Make it a priority to maintain your smoke detectors regularly so that they are always ready to alert you in the event of a fire. 

Making Sure Your Smoke Detectors Work As They Should

  • Make sure you know how old your alarms are, and test them monthly using the provided test button.  
  • Keep them clean and free of greasy build-up and dust, which could affect their performance. A scheduled cleaning will make sure your smoke detectors stay in good working order.
  • Ensure that your smoke detectors are powered up and ready to go at all times and schedule battery changes so that they are always prepared to alert you whenever you need them.
  • Your smoke detectors should all go off simultaneously in the event of a fire, so contact a professional to make sure they are all synced.
  • Replace all smoke detectors, including those using 10-year batteries and hard-wired alarms, before turning ten years old. If they don’t respond correctly during a routine check, it’s definitely time for new units. 
  • Save and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for testing and maintenance of your units. 
  • A certified inspection entity should mark your smoke detectors. 

Install Smoke Detectors In All The Right Places

  • Every room in your home or business needs a smoke detector, any place where people will be, and where a product is stored, as well. 
  • Each unit should be securely fastened to its surface, whether it is a wall or a ceiling. 
  • Ensure that smoke detectors are in all areas where people spend time, from the bathroom to the warehouse of your business, and remember that customer waiting areas and public restrooms need to be outfitted, as well. 

We care about your safety here at SERVPRO of South/Northwest Grand Rapids, so don’t hesitate to contact us for all your large-scale cleanup projects. We’re experts at handling water and fire damage, mold prevention and remediation, vandalism, and biohazards. Ask us how we can get your home or business Certified: SERVPRO Cleaned. This franchise is independently owned and operated. 

Top 3 Fire Hazards In Your Home

5/12/2021 (Permalink)

House fires cause injury, property damage, and death throughout the nation every year. Being aware of the biggest hazards could help you keep your loved ones safe from the results of a house fire, and help you avoid the costs associated with recovering from that kind of disastrous event.

Here are the top 3 fire hazards in your home to be aware of (plus some safety tips to help you manage them):


It’s never wise to light a candle and leave the room. Research has found that there is an average of 10,000-plus fires in the U.S. started by candles every year; that’s an average of 29 candle fires per day! Additionally, one-third of these fires were found to have started in bedrooms, and half of those incidents were due to fires from candles that were left too close to flammable items.

SERVPRO Safety tips:

  • Never leave a candle burning near flammable items, and extinguish all candles before leaving the room.
  • Never leave a candle burning in a child’s room or an unoccupied room.
  • Make sure candles fit securely into candle holders to avoid accidents from tipping.


The number of fires caused by smoking is trending downward, but The National Fire Protection Association reports that there are still currently an average of over 17,000 smoking-related fires per year! This agency also shares that even though the number of smoking-material-related fires has dropped in the last few years due to a decline in smoking, it is still a major culprit. Especially among older people, who are at higher risk.

SERVPRO Safety tips:

  • Smoke outside whenever possible.
  • Look for cigarette butts under furniture and between seat cushions for those that might not have been extinguished.
  • Never smoke when you’re tired or around medical oxygen, or in bed.


Electrical fires can be caused by an equipment malfunction due to an overloaded circuit, a bad extension cord, an overheated light bulb, or various types of home appliances.

SERVPRO Safety tips:

  • Don’t overload outlets or electrical cords.
  • Ensure you use the right cord for the job; use inside cords for inside and heavy-duty/outside cords outdoors.
  • Don’t leave Christmas lights, Christmas trees, or halogen lights on overnight or when gone from your home.
  • Schedule an electrician to come and perform an annual checkup of your home’s wiring.

These are the top three fire hazards you need to be aware of in your home, but there are other fire hazards to guard against, as well. SERVPRO of South and Northwest Grand Rapids is always available to come to your home and conduct an assessment of your fire safety practices. We are proud to serve our community in the restoration of homes and businesses when damage happens from fire, water, accidents, vandalism, biohazards, and more. We can get your home or business Certified: SERVPRO Cleaned, too. This franchise is independently owned and operated.

Bonfire Safety Tips

2/23/2021 (Permalink)

Cold weather is ideal for bonfires, and it is an activity that many people enjoy during the colder months. You may be planning a barbecue or a bonfire party, and we know you and your guests will have an awesome time, but we also know that accidents can happen if good safety practices are not observed at these types of events. With that in mind, we are going to share some bonfire safety tips with you today so that you can be sure that your event is memorable for all the right reasons. 

Never Leave Bonfire Unattended

Most bonfire accidents happen quickly, so don’t step away from the fire for even a few minutes. Keep a bucket of dirt or a hose nearby to deal with any incidents immediately. Being vigilant will let you address any problems before severe fire damage happens. We recommend that you wear hard-soled shoes around the fire, too, for protection from flying sparks.

Build In A Safe Location

Choose a location well removed from any flammable materials. Prepare a patch of bare dirt, dig a small depression, and surround the perimeter of your fire with stones; these steps will prevent your bonfire from spreading unexpectedly. Make sure there are no dry grasses, trees, shrubs, fences, sheds, cables, or wires around or above the bonfire. 

Choose Proper Materials

An ideal bonfire should be built only from wood, charcoal, paper, sticks, and other organic materials, and you should never use accelerants like lighter fluid or gasoline on the fire. These can cause the bonfire to quickly spread and even to explode. Once the fire is going, avoid throwing batteries, fireworks, and other combustible materials into the fire, and don’t burn items such as tires, furniture, or other things that are man-made, since the materials used in their construction can be toxic when burned. 

Extinguish Fire Properly

Even when a bonfire burns down, it still contains a lot of heat. Many fire damage incidents happen because a smoldering bonfire reignites long after everyone is gone. To put a fire out properly, spread the ashes out with a rake or shovel to let them cool, and gently pour water over the ashes until no burning or hot areas are left. If the fire is properly put out, you will not feel any heat if you extend your hand over the area above it. 

If you experience damage from fire, water, or a weather event, keep in mind that the team here at SERVPRO of South and Northwest Grand Rapids is ready to help at a moment’s notice. We are disaster restoration experts, and we have all the skills and tools necessary for mold prevention and remediation, too. 

This SERVPRO franchise is independently owned and operated.

Fire Damage Restoration - It Takes A Tribe...

12/29/2020 (Permalink)

slightly charred and blackened floor joists amongst floor joists that are like new Our SERVPRO crew members were able to make this Grand Rapids basement like new. Fire damage clean up is something we know and do well.

A flood of questions and emotions can overwhelm those that experience a fire at their home or business. Most people do not have extensive experience with fire damage clean up. So it is no surprise that questions such as these create stress and anxiety:

  • What items are going to be replaced?
  • What irreplaceable heirlooms can be restored?
  • Is the structure safe to enter?
  • Should I submit an insurance claim?
  • What will my insurance cover?
  • How long will all of this take?
  • It takes a team, or tribe, of professionals to properly advise on questions such as those above. The answers (or lack thereof) to these questions are what fuel the emotions. Stress, sadness, and concern will likely all be present but with the right team on your side hope, relief and confidence will come through as well.

    Key Players

    Insurance Agent -

    Insurance agents are often underestimated and underutilized. Developing a relationship with a local agent begins with tailoring a policy that fits your needs and understanding what makes it special for your circumstances. If your agent is not detail oriented when the policy is being developed, they will not likely be a good advisor when something happens.

    Your local agent should also have a wealth of information on what types of rulings the local adjusters tend to be more lenient or stringent on and what vendors do good work. When in doubt, call your insurance agent before putting in a claim. They can save you a lot of money by advising a course of action based on how your policy is constructed.

    Restoration Team -

    It is crucial that you are working with a company that restores, as opposed to a company that just tosses and rebuilds. As mentioned earlier, a good restoration company knows that certain things simply cannot be replaced, items that hold significant sentimental value. Like anything else in life, experience hones skill; choose a company like SERVPRO of South and Northwest Grand Rapids that has daily experience bringing cherished possessions back to life.

    Another major point to take into consideration is that every insurance policy has limits. Restoring (if possible) often costs less and takes less time than tearing out structural materials and replacing them. See the picture for an excellent example of this very point. The structure is solid, will be cleaned, and no smoke odor will be present once the job is completed; all in less time that rebuilding.

    If you or someone you know experiences a fire, help is available and a team is ready to come to your aid. Work with your insurance agent and SERVPRO of South and Northwest Grand Rapids.

    Space Heater Safety Tips

    11/18/2020 (Permalink)

    Many of us will be using space heaters to help keep our homes or businesses warm in those hard-to-heat corners and drafty areas. These units can be dangerous, however. Space heaters are high-wattage appliances and do have the potential to cause fires if they are not used correctly. We would like to share some space heater safety tips today to help keep you and those you care about safe:

    If you are purchasing a new space heater:

    • Make sure that any heater you consider is listed by a qualified testing laboratory.
    • Only purchase one with a sensor that will shut it off automatically if it overheats or gets tipped over if at all possible. 
    • Inspect heaters and their cords and plugs. Do not purchase one if you think it could be defective. 

    Setting up your space heater:

    • Ensure your heater is settled on a solid flat surface, and that it’s at least 3 feet from anything flammable. If it is being used in a garage or workshop, keep it away from any paint, oil, and gas cans. 
    • Never place the heater on furniture or cover it up, and be careful of high-traffic areas and doorways; someone could trip over it or the cord and get burned. Never run a power cord under carpets, rugs, or furniture. 
    • Plug your heater into an outlet directly rather than using an extension cord or power strip, and ensure that the plug fits well and is the only plug in the outlet.  
    • Always keep your heater away from water, and if you’re wet, stay away.

    When your space heater is in use: 

    • Check your heater regularly during its use to make sure that the plug, cord, outlet, or faceplate isn’t hot. If it is, turn it off immediately; a hot cord may mean it is defective and could ignite a fire. 
    • Don’t run your heater 24/7. These units aren’t made to work for long periods of time. 
    • Never leave a space heater unattended or in a child’s room, and turn it off while you are sleeping. 
    • Install smoke detectors in your home, as well as carbon monoxide alarms and ensure they are tested monthly. 

    We hope these best practice tips will help you to use your space heater properly. Here at SERVPRO of South and Northwest Grand Rapids, we want you, your family, and your friends to be safe this winter. If you do experience damage to your home or property, we’re here to help, We are also specialists when it comes to fire damage or water damage, and mold remediation is one of our specialties. We can get your home or business Certified: SERVPRO Cleaned if you need it, so ask us how.

    Fire Prevention In Your Commercial Kitchen

    9/8/2020 (Permalink)

    As the owner or manager of a restaurant and commercial kitchen, you know that fire is one of the worst things imaginable. It will greatly endanger the lives of your staff and your guests and destroy your property, putting you out of business for who knows how long. 

    Here are some essential fire damage prevention tips for your commercial kitchen:

    Faulty cooking equipment is often responsible for restaurant building fires. All your equipment must be maintained in top condition, from ovens to fryers, and your staff should be following established cleaning practices daily, and to the letter, so that everything is in the best shape possible. Regular professional inspections will also ensure that repairs are made before a fire event takes place. 

    Grease buildup in stove-hoods and grease traps can be a dangerous thing in your commercial kitchen. These equipment components operate under high heat constantly, so they can easily become a fire hazard; kitchen ductwork is at risk, as well. Contact an experienced cleaning and restoration professional to address these issues and help you to maintain healthy indoor air quality. 

    A critical component of your commercial kitchen fire safety is your fire sprinkler system. Have  them regularly inspected as a best safety practice in preventing fire damage; corrosion will definitely affect their performance. 

    If you don’t know how old your kitchen UL suppression system is, make sure you verify that information during your next inspection. You may want to consider an upgrade to UL 300 compliance to help support your commercial kitchen’s safety. 

    The very best equipment and the most top quality maintenance can never completely prevent restaurant fires, and the most effective weapon in your arsenal is going to be your employees. Train them to always be ready for restaurant fire emergencies through monthly meetings and drills, and always encourage their input when addressing safety issues. Make sure everyone that is comfortable with fire extinguishers knows how to use them, and ensure that everyone knows how to safely evacuate your building. 

    Getting you back to business soon is our primary focus. We are always ready here at SERVPRO of South and Northwest Grand Rapids, so call us if you experience fire damage, water damage, or mold issues. We can get your home or business Certified: SERVPRO Cleaned, too. 

    Fireworks Safety

    7/2/2020 (Permalink)

    Everyone loves the Fourth of July, and there are so many different reasons to love this holiday: the fireworks, the food and drink, the friends, the fun, and the celebration of our freedom as Americans. This year will be even more special as we move into the months following a tough time for our country, too. 

    Here at SERVPRO of South and Northwest Grand Rapids, we want to make sure that you enjoy your Independence Day festivities to the fullest, so we wanted to take this opportunity to share some safety tips with you to help ensure you and your loved ones are safe during all the fun.

    Here are some best practices for your fireworks safety:

    • Obey all local laws regarding the use of fireworks.
    • Read the cautionary labels on all your fireworks, and make sure you understand all the performance descriptions before igniting.
    • A responsible adult should supervise all firework activities, and he or she should make sure no one gives fireworks to children.
    • Alcohol and fireworks do not mix, so please save your alcohol for after the show.
    • Wear safety glasses when shooting off your fireworks.
    • Light only one firework at a time and then quickly move away from them. 
    • Use fireworks outside in a clear area and far away from buildings and vehicles.
    • Always have a bucket of water or properly functioning water hose nearby during the time that you are firing off your fireworks.
    • Never relight a firework that didn’t fire properly, and wait for about 20 minutes for it to cool off, then soak in your bucket of water.
    • Never carry fireworks in your pocket or shoot them into any containers made of metal or glass; they could explode and send dangerous shards into your audience. 
    • Never experiment with homemade fireworks.
    • Dispose of spent fireworks by wetting them down and placing them a metal trash can away from any building or combustible materials until the next day.
    • FAA regulations prohibit the possession and transportation of fireworks in your checked baggage or carry-on luggage, so don’t try to fly with them.
    • Report illegal explosives, like M-80s and quarter sticks, to the fire or police department.

    It’s important that you and all your loved ones are safe while you are having fun. If you do experience a fire, call us here at SERVPRO of South and Northwest Grand Rapids for help with any damage that may occur. We also handle water damage, large and small-scale cleanup, and mold prevention/remediation.  We are your go-to restoration resource.

    You Can Run, But You Can't Hide - Smoke and Soot

    7/1/2020 (Permalink)

    Soot covered wall, including heating vent The fire itself remained primarily in the basement, however it is easy to see how smoke and soot will find the path of least resistance to spread

    Smoke and soot are very invasive and can affect areas within your home or business that you never imagined would be affected, causing hidden damage and odor. Our extensive knowledge of smoke damage allows us to inspect and accurately assess the extent of the damage to develop a comprehensive plan of action.  

    Here are the facts:

    • Hot smoke migrates to cooler areas and upper levels of a structure.
    • Smoke flows around plumbing systems, seeping through the holes used by pipes to go from floor to floor.
    • Smoke can make its way into a closed drawer in a room with a closed door on the other side of a home.
    • The type of smoke may greatly affect the restoration process.

    Different Types of Smoke

    There are two different types of smoke–wet and dry. As a result, there are different types of soot residue after a fire. Before restoration begins, SERVPRO of South and Northwest Grand Rapids, will test the soot to determine which type of smoke damage occurred. The cleaning procedures will then be based on the information identified during pretesting. 

    Wet Smoke – Plastic and Rubber

    • Low heat, smoldering, pungent odor, sticky, smeary. Smoke webs are more difficult to clean.

    Dry Smoke – Paper and Wood

    • Fast burning, high temperatures, heat rises therefore smoke rises.

    Protein Fire Residue – Produced by evaporation of material rather than from a fire

    • Virtually invisible, discolors paints and varnishes, extreme pungent odor. 

    Our Fire Damage Restoration Services

    Every fire and associated soot situation is different; each one requires a unique solution tailored for the specific conditions.  We have the equipment, expertise, and experience to address your fire and smoke damage to effectively restore you home or business.  Our trained crews will treat you with empathy and respect and your property with care.

    Have Questions about Fire, Smoke, or Soot Damage?
    Call Us Today – 616-662-9700

    How To Reduce Fire Hazards As We Head Into Summer

    5/19/2020 (Permalink)

    As we head into the summer season, we want to talk about possible fire hazards that you may face during the warmer months. You’ll be outdoors more often, and between all the cookouts and the heavier use of your HVAC system, in addition to using your landscaping machinery, your home and business property are both at a higher risk for damage from fires. 

    Here are a few tips to help you reduce fire hazards in the months to come:

    • Care For Your HVAC. Dust can settle on electrical components of these units, and this can cause tracking faults which may lead to a fire. Keeping your HVAC clean from dusty conditions is one way to prevent a fire as we head into summer. Having it inspected by a professional to ensure that all moving parts and wiring are in good working order is also a good idea. 
    • Clean Exhaust Fans. Clean out exhaust fans regularly and take all debris out of the vents. Try to avoid running these fans for long periods of time on a consistent basis, as well, to avoid burning out moving parts. 
    • Service You Lawn Mower. Follow the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance and care schedule on your mowing equipment, and remember to remove debris and grass clippings from the cutting units, mufflers, and engines on a routine basis. Also, remember to never refuel your mower when it is overheated. 
    • Store Fuel Properly. You will be using fuel for mowers and grills during the warmer months and may have to store propane or gasoline. The risk from fire is heightened by high ambient temperatures and relief valves that open at pressures that are too low. Always store your gas cylinders upright and always out of doors. 
    • Be Safe While Grilling. Make sure your grill is stored away from your buildings, as well as overhanging branches. Always maintain a safe zone of at least three feet around the grill, and regularly remove any grease or gas buildup from the grills and trays. Never leave your grill unattended under any circumstances. 
    • Perform Alarm Audits. Fire prevention should always include fire alarm tests. Be sure to replace any old or burned out batteries regularly.

    Here at SERVPRO of South and Northwest Grand Rapids, we care about your safety and the safety of those you love. If you have experienced damages from a fire, or from water or flooding, we’re here to help and can be there right away! We are experts in cleanups from all kinds of disasters, both large and small, and we are mold prevention and remediation specialists, too.

    Cleaning Up After Smoke Damage

    2/25/2020 (Permalink)

    Fire and the accompanying smoke and soot affects everything in your home or business and will include the structure itself, equipment, and belongings. After a fire, contacting a cleaning professional may be the best decision you can make. You will need the assistance of professionals who have the expertise and equipment necessary to get your work or personal space back to normal as soon as possible. 

    Inhaling smoke, even for a short time, can have an immediate negative effect on anyone, so avoiding a smoky situation is vital. You will want to avoid entering your home or business until all the smoke is cleared from your premises. Hiring a professional fire and smoke damage restoration contractor will ensure that you experience a speedy and expedient return to normalcy. 

    SERVPRO specializes in restoring the contents of a home or business that have suffered from fire damage or water damage. They will assess all your belongings carefully to determine what items can be restored to their “pre-fire” condition. A professional cleaning company will use several methods to restore your property to its original condition, such as;

    • Foam cleaning: used for upholstery, since it can shrink or bleed when water is used. 
    • Dry cleaning: used to clean light residue.
    • Wet cleaning: a very effective cleaning method used to remove moderate to heavy residues. 
    • Immersion cleaning: items are dipped into a bath of cleaning products. 

    Electronics that have been damaged by fire and smoke often present a serious hazard. To maintain safety, never attempt to turn on or operate any electrical device that could possibly have been affected. Smoke residue contains acids that corrode metal and that can cause electronic failure in a device. Items that you should be careful of are:

    • Computers
    • Televisions
    • CD and DVD Players

    SERVPRO technicians are experienced in document and photograph restoration and can help in the event that your important records or personal keepsakes have been damaged during a fire. 

    If the damage to your home or business is such that it will need extensive restoration or cleaning, SERVPRO can organize an efficient move-out process of the affected areas. Removing your items from the area will aid in a quicker remodeling process and will protect your items from any further potential damage. After the restoration is complete, move-in can be coordinated easily. 

    If your home or business has suffered damage from fire, water, or mold, the members of the team here at SERVPRO of South and North West Grand Rapids are fire and water damage experts, and we maintain the training and equipment necessary to help our customers get back to normal after a fire event as soon as possible. 

    Preventing Fires From Space Heaters

    12/17/2019 (Permalink)

    Almost half of all fires in homes across the country are caused by the use of space heaters, and an even larger amount of associated deaths from those fires happened because those space heaters weren’t handled correctly. This data is related to the misuse of electric space heaters, specifically; these heaters don’t use fuel so they aren’t vented to the outside of the home. Their proper use is important to keep you and your family safe. With that in mind, we are going to share some tips today that will prevent fires caused by the use of space heaters:

    • Be Informed. Read your manufacturer’s information when you first purchase your space heater and make sure you understand how the heater works. Go over the warnings with your family so that everyone knows how to use the unit properly. Make sure the space heater is labeled by an approved entity.  
    • Be Aware. Your space heater is only intended for use in providing your home with supplemental heat and not as the primary source of heat for any part of the home. They must be kept at least three feet away from other objects. Data shows that this one issue is the main cause of many of the fires we talked about earlier!
    • Be Careful. Never leave a space heater unattended - turn off the heat if you are leaving the area, and don’t leave children or pets alone with the unit. Make sure your smoke alarms are installed and working correctly and keep combustible materials away from your heater. The unit should only be placed on a flat floor rather than carpet, furniture, or tables, and away from foot traffic. Plug your space heater directly into the wall, not by an extension cord. 
    • Be Smart. Don’t use a space heater in damp or wet areas, such as your bathroom or kitchen. You may be able to purchase a safety plug for this purpose from some manufacturers. 
    • Be Proactive. Inspect your power cord often, looking for frayed insulation or exposed wires. Also, make sure your plug is in good condition. You might want to purchase a heater with a built-in heat sensor that will turn your unit off if it gets too hot. 

    Here at SERVPRO of Northwest/South Grand Rapids, we care about you and your family’s safety. We can be there to help with any size disaster right away, and we are experts in fire damage, as well as damage from flooding. If you experience a fire event, call us right away!

    Fall Fire Prevention Tips

    10/8/2019 (Permalink)

    With the cooler temperatures of fall just around the corner, it is a good idea to revisit fire prevention and safety tips that are specific to this time of year. As you focus more and more on staying warm, you’ll also want to focus on staying safe while enjoying this season. 

    • Checkups. Your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors will need a change of batteries so they can stay on duty. Take a look at your fire extinguishers to ensure they are fully charged and in good working order. 
    • HVAC. Call your local certified HVAC technician and have them come clean, inspect and service your central heating system to avoid potential issues. 
    • Space heaters. Practice safety when using space heaters by:
      • Making sure any unit is surrounded by at least three feet of empty space
      • Never using these units to dry clothing or other objects
      • Keep any space heater away from furniture or drapery
      • Always turn these units off when you go to bed or leave the house
    • Fireplaces. Practice fireplace safety using these tips:
      • Your chimney should be inspected yearly
      • Employ a certified chimney sweep to clean your chimney in early fall, every year
      • Repair all cracks in your fireplace
      • Use screens to keep sparks and debris inside your fireplace
      • NEVER use gasoline to start a fire in your fireplace
      • NEVER leave your fire unattended
      • Store any combustible materials at least three feet away from the fireplace
    • Holiday decorations. Enjoy the holidays safely by taking these precautions:
      • Use flashlights instead of burning candles in your Jack-O-Lanterns
      • Halloween costumes should be constructed with fire-retardant materials, as should all holiday decorations. 
      • Make sure that all extension cords and holiday lights have been tested by an approved organization - pay attention to labeling. 
    • Teach your family fire safety:
      •  Make sure even young children know how to call 911.
      • Establish a fire escape plan for your family, and practice it until everyone is sure they know what to do, and where to meet. 
      • “Stop, drop, and roll” needs to be taught to everyone and practiced. 
    • Outdoor fire safety for fall:
      • Clear your rain gutters and roof of debris buildup
      • Find the outdoor burning regulations for your area, and never illegally burn leaves or other outdoor debris

    Here at SERVPRO of Northwest/South Grand Rapids, we care about the safety of your family. Call us for help with fire or water damage, or when you are experiencing issues with mold or mildew. We’re always here to help. 

    How to Clean Up Smoke Damage in Your Home

    7/31/2019 (Permalink)

    Enjoy a smoke-free home!

    Cleaning up smoke damage in your home is extremely important, but unfortunately, it won’t be as easy as opening a window and letting things air out. The acidic nature of smoke and soot makes them difficult to remove. However, they both contain unpleasant odors and particles that are harmful to breathe, so it’s important to clean them up completely to maintain a healthy living environment. Here at SERVPRO of South and North West Grand Rapids, we have years of fire damage clean-up experience, and over the years, we’ve picked up a few helpful tips that we’re sharing today:

    What You’ll Need

    One item you may have to buy is a dry-cleaning sponge, but many other helpful cleaning products can probably be found around your home. A sponge, however, is very important for smoke damage removal, so we encourage you not to neglect adding this effective cleaning tool to your list of supplies. We recommend you acquire the following:

    • Rubbing alcohol/paint thinner
    • Vinegar
    • Degreaser / commercial soot remover
    • Vacuum (ideally a strong shop-vac) with an upholstery attachment
    • Bucket / hot water
    • Dry-cleaning sponge (chemical sponge)
    • Clean rags
    • Sponge
    • Fan

    After obtaining the cleaning tools above, here are a few next steps:

    Ventilate. The first thing you need to do is ventilate the house to get fresh air flowing; be sure to open all the doors and windows in the home. You also can use fans to encourage airflow. Additionally, turn off your HVAC system to prevent smoke and soot from spreading.

    Use Protection. Before you clean your house, make sure to protect yourself properly. Soot, smoke, and debris can be dangerous to inhale, so wear a respirator if there is significant soot in the damaged area. Long pants and sleeves will protect your skin, and wearing gloves and eye protection can help save your eyes and hands. Since you will be freeing soot as you clean, it’s important to lay down floor protection and remove any furniture or household objects that are not damaged. If the damaged area is small, you can simply cover furniture with plastic or sheets, but if you’re cleaning an entire room, it’s wise to remove clean items and even seal off other rooms that were not affected. Be mindful of the shoes you’re wearing so you don’t track soot stains into other rooms.

    Vacuum It Up. Soot and smoke damage usually come in one ugly, smelly package, so remove loose soot particles with a vacuum with an upholstery attachment. A shop-vac with strong suction power is best for this task. Lightly brush the affected area with the brush attachment, vacuuming up the loose particles. Be gentle and avoid scrubbing, which can make stains worse.

    Use The Sponge. After performing the steps above, it’s time to use that dry-cleaning sponge (chemical sponge) to wipe up the soot and smoke stains; these sponges use special chemicals to lift stains from walls. Never use soot cleaner or water before you use a dry-cleaning sponge or you could spread the soot, making it impossible to remove with a chemical sponge. Begin by wiping the walls gently with the dry-cleaning sponge, and turn the sponge to a different side as it gets soiled so that you are always using a clean surface. When all sides are soiled, slice off the dirty sides with a knife to reveal fresh surfaces beneath, or use a new sponge. Make sure you use a wiping motion the entire time because when you scrub the stains, you spread them and work the soot deeper into the surface.

    Use Liquid Cleaners. After you remove as much soot as possible with the dry-cleaning sponge, you can use commercial soot/smoke remover (follow the manufacturer’s directions), rubbing alcohol, white vinegar or paint thinner and a clean rag. Soak the rag in your preferred cleaner and wipe the walls throughout the damaged room. Even if there is no sign of soot or smoke damage, it’s important to wipe every surface in the room, including light bulbs. Next, you’ll want to use TSP, dish soap or degreaser in a gallon of hot water to wash the walls with a rag or sponge; just a few teaspoons should be enough. Use the same wiping motion you used with the dry-cleaning sponge. You may need to use a combination or repeated treatments of these chemical cleaners depending on how bad the damage is. As the rag gets dirty, rinse it out in the bucket or use a new rag. The same applies to your cleaning water. Refresh your water when it gets black or smells like smoke. Once you’ve completed washing the room with your chosen cleaner, wipe the walls again with fresh water and a clean rag to remove any remaining cleaning products.

    Dry It Up. Dry the clean surfaces with a clean rag. You can use fans to speed this process up if necessary. You will probably still smell smoke odors, as they can take a few days to a few weeks to dissipate. Identify materials that can easily absorb odors, such as upholstered furniture or area rugs, and place these items together in a separate room or outdoors to see if the smell dissipates after a few days. You may want to consider throwing out the items you can stand to part with. Getting your carpeting, curtains, and furniture professionally cleaned will also help with lingering smoke odors. Don’t forget to replace your HVAC filters, which may be circulating smoky air in your home.

    Cleaning your home after smoke or soot damage can be a difficult job. If you need assistance, SERVPRO of South and North West Grand Rapids is here to help. With IICRC-certified techniques and state-of-the-art equipment, our trustworthy experts are the best in the fire damage restoration industry. 

    Fire Prevention Tips for your Office

    6/17/2019 (Permalink)

    Having proper equipment to prevent fires is important.

    Studies have shown that most business fires occur while the premises are not populated, between the hours of 7 pm and 7 am, causing a large amount of damage. Commercial fires, caused by cooking equipment, are also potentially devastating, but surprisingly, the most damaging ones start in an office environment! Here are some fire prevention tips to help lower the odds your office is affected by fire.

    Have A Plan. Designating someone as your “safety officer” is one step you can take that will really help. He or she can take the lead in establishing appropriate escape routes and meeting places, and setting up appropriate emergency procedures, as well. Your employees should be aware that the safety officer is in charge during any emergency and will be the one responsible for contacting emergency personnel, keeping track of employees, and assisting with providing information on equipment and chemicals kept in your office. An up-to-date emergency contact list should always be available at your place of business, and you should designate someone to be in charge of contacting family members or next-of-kin, in case of injury or a missing person.

    Have Proper Equipment. There are specific items you will need to have on hand in advance of a fire, such as fire extinguishers and smoke alarms, and these are required through local building codes, so they should be present. Alarms and extinguishers need to be inspected monthly and replaced when necessary. You will also want to have a fully-stocked first aid kit and bottled water on hand, as well as flashlights, just in case.

    Hold Regular Drills. Your safety officer should schedule regular drills and training to make sure everyone is well-versed in what to do in case of an emergency, such as an office fire. During these drills, new emergency response information can be shared to keep everyone up to date.

    Follow these Preventive Tips to prevent a fire in the first place:

    • Follow manufacturers’ recommendations for maximum volt/wattage load for surge protectors, power strips and adapters, and ask your electrician to periodically inspect these items and outlets for potential overload.
    • Replace frayed power cords and never run them under rugs or carpeting. Use cord protectors, instead.
    • Unplug appliances (coffeemakers, microwaves) and other equipment not in use at the end of the day and over the weekend.
    • Replace appliances that feel warm or hot to touch.
    • Ask the fire marshal to inspect chemical and equipment storage areas periodically to ensure proper ventilation and stowage.
    • Store hazardous materials according to manufacturers’ instructions and OSHA regulations. Clearly mark these items to help emergency personnel identify and stabilize them.
    • Don’t prop fire doors open or block exits with furniture or boxes.
    • Don’t allow paper and other trash to accumulate outside of garbage or recycling receptacles, and never store this material near hot equipment, electrical outlets or the smoking areas.
    • Don’t permit employees to burn candles, scented oils, etc. in their personal work areas.

    Our SERVPRO of South and North West Grand Rapids team is here to help you in the event of damage from fire or water. We’re available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and we are mold prevention and remediation specialists, too!

    PLAN AHEAD Southwest Grand Rapids: May is Wildfire Community Preparedness Day

    5/1/2018 (Permalink)

    Wildfires happen! Join together to prevent with them.

    In 2017, there were 66,131 wildfires in the U.S., which burned 9.7 million acres, according to National Centers for Environment Information (NOAA).

    Help reduce your community’s wildfire risk by participating in a local event for Wildfire Community Preparedness Day. To see a project map to locate local events, or for more information and resources to host your own event, visit

    On Saturday, May 5, 2018 the NFPA celebrates national Wildfire Community Preparedness Day. At a time when wildfires are causing more damage to homes and businesses each year, Preparedness Day is a reminder that there are many things we can do to be prepared for wildfire. The event serves as means to inspire and encourage people of all ages to plan and participate in a risk reduction or wildfire preparedness activity that makes there community a safer place to live.

    If a wildfire affects your home or business, contact SERVPRO® of Southwest Grand Rapids at 616-662-9700 today for 24-hour emergency service.

    When you gather for dinner don't let fire ruin your supper

    5/1/2018 (Permalink)

    When your following your favorite recipe to cook, follow this safety recipe as well. Stay SAFE!

    Every year families gather to celebrate special occasions by preparing a delicious feast, but if you don’t practice safe cooking habits, your occasion could become hazardous very quickly. According to the National Fire Protection Association, cooking fires are the number one cause of home fires and home injuries. The leading cause of fires in the kitchen is unattended cooking. It is important to be alert to prevent cooking fires.

    • Be on alert! If you are sleepy or have consumed alcohol don’t use the stove or stovetop.
    • Stay in the kitchen while you are frying, grilling, boiling or broiling food.
    • If you are simmering, baking or roasting food, check it regularly, remain in the kitchen while food is cooking, and use a timer to remind you that you are cooking.
    • Keep anything that can catch fire—
      • oven mitts
      • wooden utensils
      • food packaging
      • towels or curtains—away from the stovetop.

    If you have a cooking fire, consider the following safety protocols to help keep you and your family safe.

    • Just get out! When you leave, close the door behind you to help contain the fire.
    • Call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number after you leave.
    • For an oven fire turn off the heat and keep the door closed.
    • If you try to fight the fire, be sure others are getting out and you have a clear way out.
    • Keep a lid nearby when you’re cooking to smother small grease fires. Smother the fire by sliding the lid over the pan and turn off the stovetop. Leave the pan covered until it is completely cooled.

    SERVPRO® of Southwest Grand Rapids Professionals wish you a safe and happy family gathering.

    Southwest Grand Rapids BBQ Hazards to avoid

    5/1/2018 (Permalink)

    Keep your grill at least 10 feet from any structure.

    Summer is synonymous with barbecues, parades and fireworks displays; but along with all the festivities are plenty of visits to emergency rooms, especially during July. Each year, an average of 230 people are injured badly enough to require medical treatment after fireworks-related incidents, according to the U.S. Consumer

    Product Safety Commission. In addition to causing injury, fireworks are also responsible for thousands of house fires each year with millions of dollars in property damage.

    There is nothing like firing up the grill during the summer months! Did you know, July is the peak month for grill fires? A backyard barbecue can become dangerous if safety precautions aren’t considered. SERVPRO® of Southwest Grand Rapids want you to have an enjoyable and safe summer. Consider the following tips to ensure your summer celebrations are disaster-free!

    • Propane and charcoal BBQ grills should only be used outdoors.
    • The grill should be placed away from the home, deck railings and out from under eaves and overhanging branches.
    • Keep children and pets away from grill area.
    • Keep your grill clean by removing grease or fat buildup from the grills and in trays below the grill. Never leave your grill unattended.
    • When using a charcoal grill, let the coals completely cool before disposing in a metal container.
    • Anyone using fireworks or standing nearby should wear protective eyewear.
    • Do not try to re-light or handle malfunctioning fireworks.
    • Keep a bucket of water nearby to fully extinguish fireworks that don’t go off or in case of fire.
    • Children should never pick up left over fireworks as they may still be active.
    • The safest way to enjoy fireworks is to attend a public display conducted by trained professionals.

    If you are affected by a fire contact SERVPRO® of Southwest Grand Rapids at 616-662-9700 for emergency services for your home or business.

    The Importance of Cleaning Dryer Vents to prevent fires

    5/1/2018 (Permalink)

    Don't let lint ruin your home!

    How often do you clean your dryer vent? Is this something you think about when you do your annual spring cleaning? Dryer lint is a great resource to save in a container to make fire starters for camping or outdoor fires. However it can wreak havoc in your home if you leave it in your dryer.

    According to FEMA, failure to clean home dryers causes 34% of home dryer fires. Home dryer fires cause $35 million in property loss and can even cause injury or death.

    To reduce the risk of these fires happening in your or your insured’s home or business ensure the following:

    • Clean your Lint filter after every use
    • Vacuum out the vent hose from the dryer
    • Keep debris clear from around and under the dryer
    • Keep vent flap clear of obstructions (such as: piled up lent, snow, a bird’s nest and potential obstacles)

    For more information on cleaning dryer vents contact SERVPRO® of Southwest Grand Rapids at 616-662-9700 today.

    Destroy Odors with DEODORIZATION in Southwest Grand Rapids

    5/1/2018 (Permalink)

    Let the professionals remove the odor from your home! We know how to attack source.

    Even a small fire can cause odors for years to come if the affected areas are not properly cleaned and deodorized. Fire, smoke and soot damage in your home or business can create unpleasant and potentially permanent problems.

    Other odors that may require deodorization:

    • Cigarette Smoke
    • Pet Odors
    • Decomposition
    • Mold

    As various materials burn, the smoke produced travels throughout the structure, leaving odorous residues and deposits on surfaces and in hard-to-reach places. Unless fast, professional action is taken, these residues and deposits can cause permanent damage to contents and may result in resurfacing odors.

    With technicians certified by the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration (IICRC), SERVPRO® of Southwest Grand Rapids provides specialized services that can rid your home or business of offensive odors left by fire or smoke damage. Our technicians do not cover up lingering odors with a fragrance; they seek out and remove the sources of the odor. Once the source is found, SERVPRO® own proprietary line of cleaning products is used to treat and prevent the odor from returning. Any restorable item in affected areas will also be professionally cleaned and deodorized, including furniture, draperies and upholstery, electronics, art, flooring, walls, ceilings, HVAC air ducts, and more.

    Our trained professional will explain the various deodorization methods available and which will work best for you.

    If you or a neighbor suffer a fire damage or some other accident and require deodorization services, contact SERVPRO® of Southwest Grand Rapids at 616-662-9700 today for 24-hour service. Whether it’s fire, water, or mold damage, or just a stubborn odor that refuses to go away, we’ll help make it “Like it never even happened.”

    Smoke Alarms

    3/30/2018 (Permalink)

    Test every month, change battery every year and replace every 10 years.

    Smoke alarms save lives when properly installed and maintained, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).

    In homes, smoke alarms should be in every bedroom, outside each sleeping area, and on every level, including the basement. Extra smoke alarms may be needed in large homes.

    Test smoke alarms monthly using the test button. Smoke alarms with non-replaceable batteries need the entire smoke alarm unit replaced every ten years. Other alarms need batteries replaced every year, and the unit replaced every ten years. If the alarm chirps signaling low battery, take the proper steps to replace the unit or the batteries immediately. Never disable or remove the battery from an alarm. Almost half of fires where smoke alarms were present but did not activate had missing or disconnected batteries (NFPA).

    If you need help installing, testing or changing batteries in your smoke alarms, contact your local fire department, an electrician or the American Red Cross.

    Be sure your home has a fire emergency plan in place and conduct regular fire drills with your family. For more information on Emergency Preparedness, contact SERVPRO® of Southwest Grand Rapids Professional at 616-662-9700.


    * 7 People die every day from a home fire.

    * 36 People suffer injuries as a result of home fires every day.

    * $7 BILLION in property damage occurs every year.

    Portable Fire Extinguishers

    3/5/2018 (Permalink)

    SERVPRO of Southwest Grand Rapids cleans up the mess after the extinguisher is dispensed.

    Portable fire extinguishers can be life and property saving tools when used correctly. Read the instructions on the fire extinguisher and become familiar with them before a fire breaks out. In order to operate an extinguisher, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) suggests remembering the word PASS:

    Pull the pin. Hold the nozzle pointing away from you and release the locking mechanism.

    Aim low. Point the extinguisher at the base of the fire.

    Squeeze the lever slowly and evenly.

    Sweep the nozzle from side-to-side.

    Help people decide when to use a fire extinguisher

    Fire extinguishers can be helpful on a small fire. Consider providing a checklist to help people prepare to use a fire extinguisher on a potential fire.

    For example:

    • Have I alerted others in the building that there’s a fire?
    • Has someone called the fire department?
    • Am I physically able to use a fire extinguisher?
    • Is the fire small and contained in a single object (like a pan or a wastebasket)?
    • Am I safe from the fire’s toxic smoke?
    • Do I have a clear escape route?
    • Use a fire extinguisher when all of these questions are answered “yes.” If you’re unsure about whether or not it’s safe to use a fire extinguisher, and for all other situations, alert others, leave the building, and call 911 from a mobile or neighbor’s phone. It is not recommended that children use fire extinguishers.

    Visit US Fire Administration for more information on Choosing and using Fire extinguishers.

    Southwest Grand Rapids, Smoke and Soot Cleanup

    3/21/2017 (Permalink)

    Smoke and soot is very invasive and can penetrate various cavities within your home, causing hidden damage and odor. Our smoke damage expertise and experience allows us to inspect and accurately assess the extent of the damage to develop a comprehensive plan of action.  

    Smoke and soot facts:

    • Hot smoke migrates to cooler areas and upper levels of a structure.

    • Smoke flows around plumbing systems, seeping through the holes used by pipes to go from floor to floor.

    • The type of smoke may greatly affect the restoration process.

    Different Types of Smoke

    There are two different types of smoke–wet and dry. As a result, there are different types of soot residue after a fire. Before restoration begins, SERVPRO of Southwest Grand Rapids, will test the soot to determine which type of smoke damage occurred. The cleaning procedures will then be based on the information identified during pretesting. Here is some additional information:

    Wet Smoke – Plastic and Rubber

    • Low heat, smoldering, pungent odor, sticky, smeary. Smoke webs are more difficult to clean.

    Dry Smoke – Paper and Wood

    • Fast burning, high temperatures, heat rises therefore smoke rises.

    Protein Fire Residue – Produced by evaporation of material rather than from a fire

    • Virtually invisible, discolors paints and varnishes, extreme pungent odor. 

    Our Fire Damage Restoration Services

    Since each smoke and fire damage situation is a little different, each one requires a unique solution tailored for the specific conditions.  We have the equipment, expertise, and experience to restore your fire and smoke damage.  We will also treat your family with empathy and respect and your property with care.

    Have Questions about Fire, Smoke, or Soot Damage?
    Call Us Today – 616-662-9700