Clearing up after a fire

There is support available to help you and your family after a fire, including temporary accommodation. You should also make sure that you protect your property from any further damage.

Support for you

The Fire and Emergency Support Service (FESS) is provided by Red Cross volunteers using a specially adapted vehicle. They will arrive at the scene of any incident within 90 minutes of call out. They provide practical help and emotional support to those affected by fire. FESS support includes:  

  • immediate temporary shelter in the FESS vehicle
  • help in finding temporary accommodation
  • first aid and emotional support
  • advice on the help available from other organisations
  • support with the care of children and pets
  • use of shower and toilet facilities
  • clothing, toiletries and light refreshments
  • the use of a telephone and camera to assist with insurance claims
  • advice on any medication damaged and get replacement medication for occupiers if required
  • a check list for any documents lost or damaged and who to contact for replacement items
  • male and female hygiene packs
  • access to baby hygiene items, feeding bottles, nappies and toys
  • a vehicle that can transport you to alternative accommodation as required
  • a local contacts folder, produced by volunteers, for signposting to other organisations/agencies
  • a vehicle which carries Language Identification Card to assist foreign nationals, also use of an Interpretation Service
  • hot microwave meals
  • advice on Crisis Loans available through Social Services

The fire officer in charge of the fire-ground can ask for the vehicle and will include how many people need help and what sort of help is needed.

What you need to do

Make sure your home is structurally safe

After the fire has been extinguished, the fire officers will thoroughly examine the building and will advise you of any structural or other defects that they can see. If the building is considered unsafe by the emergency services:

  • they will tell the local building control officer
  • public access may be fenced off and the building repairs left to you
  • they may shore up or demolish the property to avoid danger to the public

Alternative accommodation

If you can't live in your home after a fire, you could:

  • try to arrange temporary accommodation with relatives or friends
  • contact local property letting agents or the Northern Ireland Housing Executive (NIHE) - if it is out-of-hours, you may ask the fire and rescue service or police to do this for you
  • contact your local Jobs and Benefits office for short-term financial help

Security of your property

When the emergency services leave, you are responsible for the security of your property. Your insurers will expect you to make sure your home is secure. Remove all valuables from the property if it is safe to do so, and close all doors and windows. If windows and doors need boarding up and you are a NIHE tenant, then contact the Executive. If out-of-hours, the fire and rescue service or police may contact them for you.

Owners or private tenants should contact a 24-hour glazier. Tell the police if you leave the property before it is secure, explaining any arrangements you have made with contractors. You will probably be charged for most of the above services but you may be able to claim some costs back through your home insurance.

What to do next

Following a fire, it is advisable to:

  • contact your insurance company as soon as possible
  • contact gas, electricity and water suppliers
  • don't be tempted to switch on any gas, electricity or water supply if they have been turned off
  • get utility supplies and installations checked and repaired by qualified people
  • throw away any cans that have bulged or are dented or rusted
  • never re-freeze food that has thawed or partly thawed

There are services available to you if you are made homeless by fire. Follow the link below to find more information.

More useful links

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