An insurance company may try it’s best at remediation of offices and residences of the odour of smoke after a fire loss.
Often the question arises on what must be cleaned and what must be removed. The removal of some items may be a very large, expensive and daunting task. Do you have to replace everything.
With the advent of new technology Activation Laboratories Ltd. have developed a method to detect the minute quantities of organic compounds that are produced in a fire. This method can trace the “fire signature” and indicate the presence or absence of this signature. Through our research of scientific publications and our own in house research our method can be used to trace the extent of the effect of the fire.
As each fire has a different makeup or signature with respect to the amount of wood, rubber, plastic, cloth, vinyl, etc., we test for a wide variety of compounds. If we can obtain a sample of the debris from the source of the fire, we can analysis this sample(s) to obtain the distinct signature of that particular fire. The compounds detected are used to analyze for in other samples that might be taken in a progression away from the origin. For example, these results can show whether the residues from the fire infiltrated the next room, the floor above or the adjacent building. Within the same test is the analysis for compounds that are responsible for the smoke odour, or those compounds said to have the organoleptic property of smoke. These compounds are specific sulfides, pyrroles, mercaptans and guaiacols to name a few. As a real world example; a fire in the kitchen of a large complex in the southern United States was beneath and central to the plenum system serving four ten story office towers.
The insurance company had to replace and remediate the plenum system as part of the cleanup effort. They knew that smoke and residue had made it to two floors above but did not know whether they had to remove the complete plenum system. From the analysis of several samples at various places in several floors, they found that they could map the effects of the fire. For there they determined that considerably less than half of the total plenum system needed to be replaced. The engineering firm working with the insurance company discussed the problem in extensive detail with us. This was critical to the success as we could advise them on sampling technique, sample containers, shipping and it help the laboratory schedule for the analysis. The insurance company was pleased that they could scientifically document their efforts, remediate the buildings in less time and substantially reduce costs.