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Exposure Concerns Following a Fire in a Multifamily Residential Building

Clark Seif Clark provides building assessments and indoor environmental quality testing to identify smoke residues, odors, water damage, mold, lead and asbestos hazards after a building fire.

Chatsworth, CA – WEBWIRE

Fires leave behind a wide variety of indoor environmental quality or IEQ concerns.

Millions of people across the United States live in multifamily residential buildings. These include apartments, town houses, row houses, condominiums and other tenement properties.
Unfortunately, fires in multifamily residential buildings happen all too frequently. In fact, the National Fire Data Center reports that multifamily residential building fires accounted for an estimated 109,700 reported fires each year from 2013 to 2015. During those years, cooking (74% of fires) was the leading cause of multifamily residential building fires. Of the cooking fires, 93% were small, confined fires with limited damage. The bad news is that even when a relatively small fire takes place, smoke can impact other units throughout the building as it travels through shared walls, ceilings, attics, hallways, elevator shafts and other open spaces.
“There are hazards associated with structure fires even after the flames have been extinguished. Fires leave behind a wide variety of indoor environmental quality or IEQ concerns,” said Derrick A. Denis, Vice President of Indoor Environmental Quality for Clark Seif Clark (CSC). “Building materials and contents can be directly damaged, or burned, by the heat of fires, which results in the need for restoration. The application of fire suppressants, such as water, can directly impact building materials and contents, which results in the need for water mitigation. Further, residues of combustion like soot, ash and char, and residual odors must be remediated. Failure to properly respond to any of the direct aspects of a fire (burn damages, water damages, combustion residues and smoke odors) will result in a site that is not returned to a pre-loss condition.”
Additionally, fire suppression efforts and/or water infiltration from breaches in the building envelop can lead to secondary damages, such as the growth of mold. Response actions to a fire must consider regulated building materials, such as asbestos and lead based paint that were damaged by the fire event or will be disturbed by the remediation and restoration efforts. Asbestos and lead are federally regulated and they present a hazard to workers and returning building occupants. Be careful not to underestimate the complexity of a fire restoration response and the impact on the quality of the indoor environment for workers and eventually returning occupants.
Dedicated to helping building owners, managers and tenants faced with these challenges are the building science and indoor environmental quality (IEQ) professionals at CSC. They provide post-fire inspections, environmental testing and consulting services to identify smoke and water damage, odors, mold, lead-based paints, asbestos-containing materials and other potential hazards. CSC has even sponsored an educational video about IEQ concerns following a fire in a multifamily residential building that can be seen at:
To learn more about this or other building science, indoor air quality, environmental, health and safety services, please visit, email or call (800) 807-1118. 
About Clark Seif Clark
CSC was established in 1989 to help clients in both public and private sectors address indoor air quality, occupational, environmental, and health and safety (EH&S) issues. CSC is a leading provider of these services with multiple offices along the western seaboard and southwest. The company believes in science-based protocols and has a strong background in engineering, making them the preferred environmental consultants to industrial clients, healthcare facilities, architects, schools, builders, contractors, developers and real estate professionals.

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 Building Fire
 Fire Damage
 Industrial Hygiene

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