California has been swept with wildfires over the past two months, creating headlines in national media outlets around the world. With the devastation in the news almost every day, fire restoration has been on the minds of industry professionals and consumers alike. While there is more than $6 billion in property damage caused by fires every year, there are no standards for the fire restoration process. Other facets of the restoration business, such as mold and water restoration, have accredited standards that should be followed by all professionals. So where are the standards for fire restoration?
While there is a guideline for fire and smoke damage repair—it was updated in the early 2000s—a guideline is very different than a standard because guidelines don’t fall under the same scrutiny and detailed processes that exist for a document to attain an accredited “standard” title. However, the good news is that there is an advancement on the horizon that restoration and insurance professionals should be aware of coming from the Restoration Industry Association (RIA).
Known as the oldest and largest association in the restoration and reconstruction industry, the RIA has made it a priority to draft a fire restoration standard that will be accredited and third-party confirmed. For those who don’t know, the RIA serves and represents the interests of its members by promoting the highest ethical standards; providing education, professional qualification, and certification opportunities; positively influencing regulations and governmental actions; and advancing the safety, image, efficiency, and competitiveness of industry members.
This is immensely important news, as the fire and smoke damage report standard will fill a void that the restoration industry has sorely needed. Through its efforts to establish a best practice standard for the industry, the RIA has been working for years to tackle all of the mandates required to establish regulations. As part of this process, the organization secured a pin, which is a requirement of those who wish to write an accredited standard, and through its hard work, a fire standard accreditation is in the process of being completed. To signify its validity, the standard will be third-party confirmed by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).
The Gold Standard
To provide some context, an accredited standard serves to develop common, industry-accepted language that enables industry professionals to discuss concepts and procedures regarding cleaning, inspection, and restoration. ANSI is responsible for overseeing the development of national consensus standards and verifying that the requirements for due process, consensus, and other criteria for approval have been met by the standard’s developer.
The accreditation process includes a peer-review process that is open to the entire industry and to the public. If the process is followed, then a document is considered third-party approved and becomes a true standard. The upcoming standard is an exciting advancement, but not the only recent progression for the fire restoration industry.
Another operating advancement that affects claims professionals comes in the form of contents restoration. Advancements within the field of contents have come a long way in the past decade, thanks in large part to computer software. Specialized software can now evaluate the contents of a home, create an inventory, and assign salvage value, which saves time and money for insurance companies.
What Insurance Professionals Should Know
With advancements in the fire restoration industry, it’s important for claims professionals to understand the innovations available and ensure that their partners are utilizing the latest equipment and processes. A company should provide services with integrity and the highest of standards in restoration and cleaning services. Utilizing the most advanced equipment, innovative technologies, and a built-in accountability system, a restoration partner should restore value, stability, and peace of mind, helping return policyholders to their homes and businesses as quickly as possible.