Loss mitigation is defined as the “reasonable and prudent steps required to preserve, protect, and secure structure and contents from further damage.” Before work involving multiple crews can begin, the disaster supervisor must walk through the job to ensure that all loss containment procedures have been properly implemented. If circumstances are discovered that might allow items to be further damaged, take care of those items of first. During this critical time, supervisors should review and reinforce job site safety with all personnel. Loss mitigation, or “containment,” may include, but is not necessarily limited to:
- Identifying and eliminating obvious safety hazards
- Boarding with durable materials to prevent insureds or others from entering unsafe property
- Security for the property, as required, to minimize the potential for vandalism and theft
- Corrosion control, cleaning and coating metal surfaces, to prevent tarnishing, rusting or oxidation damage to metal surfaces
- Neutralizing and chemically cleaning acid soot from light colored or delicate fabrics or surfaces to prevent on-going damage
- Freeze protection for toilets, or plumbing and appliances, where appropriate
- Securing valuables in cooperation with property owners, even complete move-outs when circumstances warrant
- Re-establishing electrical service where appropriate
- Opening pockets of saturation before additional secondary damage or mold growth takes place
- Pumping standing water from below-grade areas coupled with implementation of drying procedures to prevent the formation of toxigenic mold.
Job setting begins with a little light on the subject. Window treatments may have to be removed, and windows in more severe soot damage situations may require cleaning—just so restorers can see what they are doing.
Preliminary procedures also may require removing, cleaning and packing delicate items that could get broken when drop cloths are placed on furnishings to protect them from debris that’s generated when cleaning ceilings and walls, or during demolition and reconstruction work.
Even demolition on severe fire losses should not begin before a careful evaluation of safety, structure and contents has been made. The priority is to avoid, not only personal injury, but also the destruction of salvable materials.
In the July 2000 issue of ICS, we’ll continue the discussion of processing priorities with preliminary safety and loss mitigation procedures.