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Commercial Fire Damage 101: What do I do if there’s a fire in my restaurant?

    Chicago Fire Damage Restoration - Commercial Service

    Commercial Fire Restoration - Restaurant Fires - ServiceMaster Restoration By Simons - Chicago IL

    What Do I Do if There’s a Fire In My Restaurant? Helpful Tips On Navigating The Fire Damage Restoration Process For Restaurant Owners In Chicago IL

    Damaging fires happen every 24 seconds in the United States, according to the National Fire Protection Association. While the number of fires and fire-related deaths has been trending down since the 1970s, they still continue to wreak havoc all across the country.

    Restaurants are no exception to this reality. In fact, nearly half a million structure fires occur in the United States during any given year. These fires result in over a whopping $10 billion of property damages and over 13,000 civilian injuries. During 2010-2014 alone, approximately 7,410 structure fires occurred in restaurant establishments in the country. According to the NFPA, the cooking equipment used in restaurants is the main cause of these reported incidents. Surprisingly, fires related to electrical distribution, lighting and heating equipment only accounted for 27 percent of these fires.

    Dealing with an emergency like this is extremely stressful and often unplanned. Fortunately, ServiceMaster Restoration By Simons is equipped to handle the aftermath of incidents like this in any kind of commercial or residential property, including restaurants.

    What do I do if there’s a fire in my restaurant?

    • Act immediately but stay calm.
    • If the fire is relatively small, like most restaurant fires are, gauge if you can put it out yourself with a fire extinguisher. Even if it is a manageable fire, it is advised that you evacuate the building and leave the extinguishing to professionals.
    • If a fire occurs in a pan, do not move the pan. Instead, deprive it of oxygen by placing a lid over it. Cookie sheets or pizza pans can also do the trick.
    • Try to cut any sources of heat if you can do so without putting yourself in harm’s way.
    • Alert everyone in the building and make sure to leave the property immediately. Use your pre-planned escape route if you have one, and consider developing one now if you don’t.
    • When everyone is evacuating the building, make sure everyone stays low and crawls since smoke rises.
    • Do not stop to retrieve any valuables, documents or collectibles.
    • If you can, close the door to the room the fire started in and close doors as you continue to exit the church.
    • Before opening any closed doors on your way out, touch it with the back of your hand. If the door is warm, then there is likely fire behind it and you must find an alternative route to exit the church.
    • Do not go back into the building.
    • Call the fire department as soon as you safely have the opportunity to do so. If there is anyone remaining in the building, make sure to inform them of this.
    • Make sure to thoroughly document any and all damage.
    • Take steps to prevent a similar incident from happening again in the future.

    What should I do after the fire department leaves?

    Once the fire is extinguished and the dust settles, call a restoration company immediately to address the damage. Only those who are equipped to handle the water, smoke and fire damage your restaurant has suffered should be entering the building and handling the situation.

    Why should I choose ServiceMaster Restoration By Simons?  

    We recognize that restaurants in Chicago’s Gold Coast and Downtown have guidelines that set them apart from other properties and homes in the city. Occasionally, there is more than one insurance policy involved. It takes an experienced and knowledgeable company like ours to know how to navigate these situations.

    We’ll work closely with your property manager, facility manager, and the various adjusters to make sure that the job is done right. We understand that your restaurant needs to be cared for and respected during this difficult time. We pride ourselves on limiting our interruption into your lives and services. When possible, we will work around your restaurant’s hours so that your day-to-day operations are not disrupted further.

    What steps do we take to handle fire damage restoration? 

    ServiceMaster Restoration By Simons provides Structural Cleaning and Content Cleaning for Chicago & Suburban properties that have been affected by Smoke or Fire Damage. The following is a brief description of those services.

    Structural Cleaning Services

    1. Structural Cleaning involves the cleaning of the property itself. This covers soot sponging of walls & ceilings, including crown molding and baseboards.
    2. In some cases, using a soft detergent to clean walls & ceilings.
    3. Cleaning of floors, doors, and windows.
    4. Cleaning of all flat surfaces including countertops and windowsills.
    5. Cleaning of all ventilation and duct systems for HVAC.

    Content Cleaning Services

    1. Cleaning of all soft goods including garments, drapes, bedding, carpet & upholstery.
    2. Cleaning of all electronics, appliances
    3. Drying and restoration of documents
    4. Art Restoration
    5. Cleaning of bookshelves, shelving, furnishings and light fixtures

    What services do we provide?

    • Fire & Smoke Damage Restoration for Home-owners
    • Fire & Smoke Damage Restoration for Business-owners
    • Fire & Smoke Damage Restoration for Places of Worship
    • Fire & Smoke Damage Restoration for Educational Institutions
    • Fire & Smoke Damage Restoration for Multi-Family Properties
    • Fire & Smoke Damage Restoration for Medical Facilities
    • Fire & Smoke Damage Restoration for Office Spaces
    • Fire & Smoke Damage Restoration for Manufacturing Facilities

    What equipment do we use?

    Air Scrubbers: Air scrubbers use High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filtration to remove these particles from the air, enhancing the efficiency for cleaning and clearing the air for safe breathing. Please do not move or turn off this equipment.

    Thermal Fogging: This process neutralizes odor, using a strong deodorizer that penetrates everywhere the smoke traveled and will require the removal of pets, plants and humans occupants for a short period of time.

    Ozone: Ozone is an oxidizing agent produced by a portable ozone generator. This process will require the removal of pets, plants and human occupants for a short period of time.

    OdorKlenz Technology: This environmentally friendly deodorizing process removes odors and particulates using OdorKlenz air cartridges in traditional air scrubbers. Safe for people, pets and plants.

    How can I prevent a fire from happening in my restaurant in the first place? 

    Designate a safety officer: Having a fire prevention officer is essential for any business.. This is due to the fact that they are held responsible for planning fire escape routes, safe meeting places for all employees and educating everyone in the restaurant about fire safety. While it may seem like having a fire in your restaurant is highly unlikely, having someone stay up to date on fire safety and a plan of action for the worst-case scenario is critical.

    Regulate where you and your employees smoke: Perhaps a minor detail at first glance, having a designated smoking area outside of the building is something that should not go overlooked. Fires often start from sparks that come from cigarettes and other lighters. By having a designated smoking area removed from your main structure, the risk of stray sparks igniting paper or other objects in your restaurant is reduced. By having several ashtrays and containers for employees to trash used cigarettes, the risk of a fire is eliminated even further.

    Check the wiring in your building: If any of the electrical cords or wiring in your building appear to be broken or cracked, they need to be replaced immediately. Do not let clusters of wires converge over one another on one outlet. Either of these situations can result in an electrical fire and can easily be prevented.

    Maintain machines: By maintaining your machines and keeping them up-to-date, you will prevent any machine-related fires from sparking. By keeping your machines clean, there is less debris that can light on fire. Leave them unplugged when they are not in use. You should also inspect solid fuel appliances on a monthly basis. In a low volume kitchen, cooking appliances can be inspected quarterly.

    Make sure each cooking appliance has a non-combustible grease filter: This will significantly reduce the risk of oil catching on fire in your kitchen.

    Cooking appliances should vent toward the outside of the building: When exhaust from machines accumulates inside your restaurant, the risk of fire increases. You can reach out to a local inspector or company like ServiceMaster Restoration By Simons to see if your ventilation system meets your local region’s kitchen codes.

    Grease containers should be emptied at least once a day: Grease accumulates much faster than you would think and becomes harder to clean and remove the longer it is left on appliances. The only exception to this rule is that grease accumulating underneath sinks can be cleaned by professionals on a monthly basis.

    Make sure your fire extinguisher is updated: Not only must your extinguisher be kept in a location that is easily accessible, but it should also be charged completely and checked by a professional at least once a month to ensure it is in proper working order.

    Regularly test smoke alarms: Smoke alarms need to be replaced every ten years. They should be checked at least once a month to make sure they are in working order and their batteries need to be changed regularly.

    Make sure you’re up to date on any recent fire code changes: Knowing the latest information on your local region’s fire code is extremely important and can provide you with even more insight as to how to protect your business.

    How much will it cost?

    The costs of restoration depend on the insurance provider you have. Fortunately though, as a QRV or Quality Restoration Vendor, ServiceMaster Restoration By Simons is part of the elite group of national ServiceMaster franchises chosen to take part in the national contract agreements with most major insurance companies. Some of the insurance companies we work directly with include State Farm, Allstate, Liberty Mutual, Hanover, Chubb, Asco, Progressive, Travelers, USAA, Farmers, Nationwide, AIC, Zurich, American Family, and Erie, among others. That means that we prescribe to the strict guidelines and to the required estimating software administered by these insurance companies and provide a direct pipeline to your insurance company. It also means that you don’t have to be the middle person in the process. We work and communicate directly with your insurance provider to ensure your property is correctly restored after water damage, bringing your property back to its pre-loss conditions.

    ServiceMaster Restoration By Simons is an MBE/WBE certified firm and family-run company serving Chicago, Oak Park, River Forest, and the North Shore.  ServiceMaster Restoration By Simons provides disaster restoration services including Water & Flood Damage Restoration, Fire & Smoke Damage Restoration, Mold Remediation and a wide range of interior specialty cleaning including Hoarder & Clutter Cleaning, Post-Construction Cleaning,Carpet Cleaning and Upholstery Cleaning to residential and commercial customers residing in Chicago, Oak Park-River Forest and the North Shore.  For more information, give us a call at 773-376-1110 or visit

    Nasutsa Mabwa
    Nasutsa Mabwa
    Nasutsa Mabwa is President of ServiceMaster by Simons, an MBE/WBE City of Chicago and State of Illinois certified firm. She is a 2018 Chicago Business Journal Influential Women in Business Honoree, a member of Crain’s Chicago Business 40 under 40 and a 2018 ServiceMaster(c) Achiever Award recipient. She serves on the board for the Civic Federation, is the Government Liaison to the Evanston Chamber of Commerce, and the serves on Advisory Board for Roosevelt University’s Marshall Bennett Institute of Real Estate. She is IICRC certified for WRT & FSRT.


    • Nasutsa Mabwa

      Nasutsa Mabwa is President of ServiceMaster by Simons, a MBE/WBE City of Chicago and State of Illinois certified firm. She is a 2020 Daily Herald Business Ledger C-Suite awardee, a member of Crain’s Chicago Business 40 under 40 and a 2018 ServiceMaster(c) Achiever Award recipient. She is a Civic Federation Board Member, an Advisory Board Member for as President Elect on the Executive Committee for the Evanston Chamber of Commerce. She is IICRC certified for WRT & FSRT.

      About ServiceMaster Restoration By Simons
      Restoration By Simons is an MBE/WBE certified firm and family-run company serving both Cook and Lake County, Illinois. Recently, the company was awarded a variety of honors, including the SB100 Best of Small Business Award Winner 2021, Bronze Stevie® Award in the Female Entrepreneur of the Year category in the 18th annual Stevie Awards for Women in Business, recipient of the 2020 Better Business Bureau's Torch Award for Marketplace Ethics, and the recipient of the 2020 Skokie Business of the Year Award, Honorable Mention Category. Restoration By Simons provides disaster restoration services including water and flood damage restoration, fire and smoke damage restoration, mold remediation, to residential and commercial customers in both Cook and Lake County IL.

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