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Housing chiefs turn to SafeGroup for fire and smoke clean-ups



Mark McGowan

4 min read

Specialist cleaning technicians from SafeGroup are providing council housing chiefs with a rapid response cleaning service to return fire and smoke damaged homes to use as quickly as possible.

The housing department of the city council in the East Midlands is using SafeGroup expertise to rehabilitate homes that have suffered fire and smoke damage.

In some cases, the properties, which include houses and flats, have also been damaged by water used by firefighters to put out flames, adding to the complexity of the fire and smoke restoration process.

Soot reveals the outlines of items left in a drawer in a child’s upstairs bedroom
Soot reveals the outlines of items left in a drawer in a child’s upstairs bedroom

Fast smoke clean-up

SafeGroup fire and smoke cleaning teams have worked on nine homes for the region’s biggest housing authority in the three months since February 2021.

Debbie Flynn, New Business Development Manager at SafeGroup, said: “In most cases, we can carrying out all the smoke and fire damage cleaning, ready for properties to be repaired and redecorated, in five days.

“We work closely with the housing authority’s surveyors so the long-term condition of each property is safeguarded and all aspects of our fire and smoke cleaning is carried out to the highest standards.

“Fire smoke particles contain toxins so it is important they are removed from all substrates. Only professional cleaning processes will result in properties being fully and permanently deodorised.

“This ensures there are no lingering unpleasant smells that could result in concerns and complaints from returning or new tenants. While the team is mobilised on site, we can carry out other works as well, such as graffiti clean-up and removal of waste from gardens and garage areas.”

External house fire damage Before


External house fire damage After


Fire residue testing

SafeGroup can also offer chloride swab testing before and after fire and smoke damage cleaning is carried out. This identifies the areas in a property affected by potentially hazardous fire residues and shows they have been decontaminated by the cleaning process.

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SafeGroup first assesses the scope of the fire and smoke clean-up work needed for each project and provides a risk assessment and method statement (RAMS) to complete the work thoroughly and safely.

Cleaning technicians wear appropriate PPE, including gloves, overalls, goggles and masks, to prevent potentially hazardous particles from coming into contact with eyes or skin or being breathed in or ingested.

Professional air scrubbers are deployed to remove smoke and dust particles during the work. If necessary, fire damaged materials, including door frames, skirting boards, tiles, wallpaper, and plaster, are removed.

Effort and technology

Specialist chemical cleaners are used to remove soot from all surfaces, so they are touch clean and ready to be repaired and decorated.

The work has been led by SafeGroup Cleaning Technician Tom Craig. He said: “We follow a set procedure and the results we achieve are as much to do with the real effort we put in to getting the job done properly as it is the specialist equipment and cleaning methods we use.

“The transformation we can achieve can be immense and it’s great to see the difference we make. We want clients to be very happy with our work and it’s good to know that the people moving into places we’ve cleaned will get no sense of the havoc a fire may have caused.”

The size of the smoke and fire clean-up teams deployed has depended on the scale of each particular task, but have commonly ranged from two to four personnel.

Arrangements can be made to place items left in the property into storage. Because SafeGroup is a certified waste carrier, its teams can safely take damaged goods identified for disposal to the appropriate registered sites.

About the author

Mark McGowan

Mark is responsible for developing and managing SafeGroup’s sales team across all service streams. He has held senior managerial positions in the waste management and recycling industry since 2004. Mark is now using the insight and skills gained in these roles to help promote SafeGroup’s integrated specialist cleaning and waste management offer nationally. Mark gives SafeGroup strategic awareness and ensures we can match our sales promise to outstanding delivery. Ever the practical person, in 2015 Mark also became a City & Guilds qualified electrician.

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