Fire Commercial

Fire Damage Restoration For Commercial Properties

One of the most devastating types of damage that your commercial property can experience is a fire. Even with extensive planning and strong building code compliance, scary, sudden, and unpredictable fires can still occur.

In 2021, there were 116,500 non-residential fires in the United States. These fires were responsible for 115 deaths, 1,025 injuries, and $3,697,200,000 in losses. Additionally, there was a 20% increase in commercial fires from 2011 to 2021.

Any structural fire is devastating, but the impact on commercial properties is multiplied. Both you as the owner and your tenants and customers may be faced with losses of personal possessions, equipment, inventory, and even the ability to operate a business.

Safely cleaning up your commercial property after even a small fire can be a big task. As a Chicagoland commercial property owner, it’s essential to understand the fire and smoke damage restoration process.

At McMahon services, we offer a comprehensive range of fire damage services. We can get the situation under control quickly, providing emergency board up services, water removal (from the water used to put out the fire), safe removal of fire-damaged materials, smoke and soot damage removal, elimination of lingering smoke odors, and reconstruction. Hopefully, you will never have to deal with a fire at your commercial property, but getting educated is one of the best ways to be prepared. We are happy to share our expertise and explain how we can help you get back to business as usual.

What is Fire and Smoke Damage Restoration?

When your business or rental property is hit by a fire, the after-effects are devastating. Flames not only cause damage to your structure and its contents, but smoke and soot can have an equally big impact, even causing issues for the health of those in the building. Then, add in the water and chemicals that the sprinklers and fire department used to put out the fire, and you have a big mess.

In the aftermath of the flames, property owners need to respond quickly and bring in a professional restoration company to immediately start the cleaning and restoration process.

Unlike general contractors, restoration contractors can respond 24/7, and will be one of the first teams on the scene after a fire. A restoration company will enter the scene and safely, completely clean up the property. After a fire, this typically means water extraction and a professional drying process, clean up that includes removing broken debris from the premises, and complete soot and smoke damage removal. This leaves you with a property that is safe, clean, and ready to reconstruct. Here at McMahon Services, we have the equipment and knowledge necessary to complete both the restoration and reconstruction processes.

Fires leave behind extensive, pervasive damage and lots of toxic residue. Fire damage is not something you can deal with on your own, even if you have your own cleaning and maintenance teams. Due to our many years of experience, expert education, and investment in specialized, state of the art equipment, we know how to handle this damage in ways that will protect both your property and your health. Here are the reasons why you need to bring in help right away.

Rapid Clean-Up of Fire and Smoke Damage is Critical

Once the flames are out, you may think that the worst is over, but fire and water damage will keep destroying your property as long as you let it sit. Fire damage falls into two categories – primary damage caused by the fire itself (and the water that put it out) and secondary damage caused by the smoke, soot, and moisture over time. Here’s what you need to know about how both types get worse over time.
  • Primary damage from both the flames and water used to extinguish the flames is obvious. If quick restoration action is not taken, the damage will increase as your fixtures, surfaces, furnishings, contents, plumbing and electrical systems, and even the building’s actual structure begin to rust, mold, and corrode. Damaged areas may even collapse.
  • The heat from fires can cause structures to expand. Well-insulated buildings can experience smoke and pressure build-up, leading to blown-out windows, doors, and even roofs. Aside from the damage, leaving your building open and exposed can lead to even more problems.
  • The heat from fires can cause structures to expand. Well-insulated buildings can experience smoke and pressure build-up, leading to blown-out windows, doors, and even roofs. Aside from the damage, leaving your building open and exposed can lead to even more problems.
  • Smoke damage can penetrate your entire property. As your building is engulfed in flames, even distant, undamaged areas will be permeated with a smokey smell, due to chemicals that cling to carpet and fabrics. The hot air from the fire causes the smoke molecules to spread quickly and be absorbed by porous materials throughout your property. Smoke can even travel through and contaminate your ductwork. Letting smoke damage sit over time makes it even harder to eventually remove.
  • Smoke and soot damage is not just about cosmetic issues like smells and stains. When you smell smoke, you are breathing in soot particles, which are a respiratory hazard. Prolonged inhalation of soot particles can lead to serious illness. Only a professional fire damage restoration team can ensure the safe elimination of airborne soot particles, both during and after the clean up process.
  • Due to the water used to extinguish the fire, your property may be at risk for mold growth. Mold can start growing in as little as twenty four hours, so getting the water out and starting the dehumidifying process right away is critical.

Health Risks Of Smoke and Fire Damage

Beyond damage to your property, smoke and fire damage can also cause health problems for anyone who comes into contact with it. Here are just some of the issues that it can cause.
Breathing and Lung Problems

Even after the fire is out and the smoke is gone, the chemicals given off by a fire can linger in your home or business for several weeks. Smelly damage permeates the walls and travels through ductwork, contaminating parts of your property that weren’t directly impacted by the fire. Musty odors from mold growth can start if the water damage (from extinguishing the fire) isn’t dealt with right away. Breathing in all of these contaminants can cause coughing, shortness of breath, asthma attacks, nose bleeds, and even infections like bronchitis

Skin and Eye Irritation

Ash, smoke, and other residue left behind after a fire can cause rashes and other skin reactions. Touching furniture or wearing clothing that was present during the fire, and rubbing your eyes with contaminated hands can cause skin and eye irritation, inflammation, redness, and watering.

Food Safety After a Kitchen Fire

Kitchens are the most common place for fires to break out, and fires in restaurants are common: Up to 1500 fires in restaurants are reported to US fire departments each year. Smoke, heat, and toxic firefighting and sprinkler chemicals will contaminate food, making it unsafe to eat after the fire.

Long-Term Health Risks After A Fire

Soot, smoke and other chemicals left behind from burning plastic, foam, wood, fabric, and other materials may potentially cause long-term problems like an increased risk for cancer, heart attacks and strokes.

The Dangers of Water Damage

Water damage can cause major and minor health risks if left untreated. Exposure to harmful bacteria and viruses can be caused by flooding, mildew, and mold. Flooding can also cause outdoor bacteria to enter your home and living spaces. This can lead to health hazards by breathing airborne particles or by exposure to the skin.

Health Risks Due to Mold Growth

Molds can cause many health issues, depending on how sensitive individuals are to the effects. Molds can cause throat irritation, wheezing, coughing, stuffiness, and eye/skin irritation. Anyone that has a chronic illness to their lungs or a compromised immune system may experience more serious side effects to mold exposure. This can include flu, pneumonia, chest colds, headaches, fever, and even difficulty breathing. In extreme situations like toxic mold exposure, individuals can experience long-term effects like depression, anxiety, insomnia, and even memory loss.

Potential Structural Issues

Post-fire dangers can also come from changes to your physical property. Damaged utilities like exposed electrical wires and broken gas lines can be dangerous, and fire-damaged structures or buildings may also be unstable. Weak, structurally damaged properties can collapse without warning.

If cleanup is not done properly, you could put yourself, your staff, your tenants, your customers, and your entire investment at risk. Investing in professional fire restoration services can actually have financial benefits by saving you money in the end–here’s how.

Why Your Business Needs Professional Fire and Smoke Damage Restoration

Now that you understand the many ways that smoke, fire, and water damage can affect your property, it’s time to talk about the additional benefits of working with a trusted, local disaster restoration team. There are many benefits to this partnership that can go beyond the actual clean up process. Here are a few of the most important for commercial property owners and managers to know.

Less Lost Income

With professional-grade fire restoration work only has to be done once. This allows you to get your property restored as quickly as possible and prevent a subsequent loss of income. By getting back to business as quickly as possible, you minimize the losses of income as well as the headache of fighting with insurance companies over larger business interruption claims.

Restoration (Not Replacement) of Your Property and Its Contents

Professional help can save you money by restoring items and equipment you thought you had to replace. Partnering with an experienced fire damage restoration professional can prevent you from having to purchase new, possibly very expensive equipment or items in order to resume business at your property.

Even if the fire doesn’t actually touch all parts of your property, damaging smoke and soot can. Smoke and soot contain dangerous chemicals – the fire damage restoration clean-up process is not simple. It can be hard for business owners to know what needs replacement, and what can successfully be cleaned – we can help.

Help With Insurance Claims

We are experienced in working with insurance adjusters McMahon Services can assess whether or not it makes sense to use insurance to help with the costs of restoration. Our team can help with getting the right amount of coverage from your insurance. McMahon Services can help by explaining to you what the costs will be and giving you the information you need to make an informed decision about submitting an insurance claim.

If you do decide to submit a claim, McMahon Services will then work with your claims adjuster to ensure the work is done as quickly as possible and that the resulting settlement is fair. This will allow you to get back to the important work of restarting your business operations.

A high-quality restoration company works with your insurance company and sees what is covered by your policy before making any decisions. They will stay in touch with your insurance company from beginning to end, keeping you updated throughout the process.

Protection Against Future Issues

Even when the fire damage isn’t visible to the untrained eye, there is unseen chemical damage that needs to be addressed properly. McMahon Services acts as the general contractor for the entire duration of the job, taking care of every element, whether it be complete reconstruction or minor cleanup and repair. We have in-house specialists with the proper tools for the job and local subcontractors we know and trust.

Professional fire clean-up and restoration protects you, your team, and your investment by ensuring that the clean-up was done right the first time. It also protects your business from future safety or liability issues. We make sure all laws and regulations are followed, and the clean-up is always thorough and complete.

Water Damage From Fire Sprinkler Systems: What Commercial Property Owners Need to Know

Do you own, rent or manage a property with a fire sprinkler system? These essential tools can prevent damaging, dangerous fires from spreading in commercial and large residential properties.

When fire sprinkler systems do activate, they stop fires, but also damage the interiors, contents, and even structural integrity of your property. In addition to any fire damage, you will need to deal with the sprinkler discharge, which can often be worse than the fire damage. Fire sprinklers release dirty water that can contain bacteria, rust, oil, chemicals, and sediment. The spray saturates everything it touches with a smelly, contaminated, staining mess.

A fire alone is scary enough, but dealing with fire sprinkler discharge as well can be overwhelming. Thankfully, there is 24/7 emergency help available for Chicago area property owners. As experts in both fire and water damage restoration, we know how to handle these complex situations. In this section , we will explain how to handle fire sprinkler discharges at your property, and the best ways to get life back to normal at your business, office, apartment building, or other commercial property.

Why You Should Not Clean Up Fire Sprinkler Discharge Yourself

When a fire sprinkler head discharges, it soaks the walls, flooring, furniture and equipment in your home or business. On average, a fire sprinkler uses almost 350 gallons of water to control a fire – this is not a small mess to tackle on your own. This water, plus any soot and smoke left behind from a fire, can be a dirty and dangerous combination, and mold can start growing in as little as 24 hours.

As we explained above, If you don’t thoroughly mitigate fire and water damage right away, you are risking serious problems to the health of building residents, and the structural integrity of the building itself. Successfully cleaning up water damage from any source is a complex process, and an experienced water damage restoration specialist has the team, tools, and knowledge to do it right – right away.
At McMahon Services and construction, we can be on-site quickly to start the mitigation process. We will remove the water, and any damaged materials that can’t be salvaged. We will then start the process of cleaning, sanitizing, deodorizing, and drying your entire facility.

As industry experts, we use techniques, equipment, and products that will restore both the fire sprinkler damage you can see, and invisible problems like hidden moisture. During the entire restoration process, we monitor the humidity levels at your property, ensuring that the cleaning and drying process is safe and complete before any reconstruction work is started.

How to Choose The Right Fire Damage Restoration Contractor

It’s never a smart idea to attempt to repair fire or other disaster-damaged property on your own. It can be risky, and if done incorrectly, more restoration work will be needed in the future. By partnering with an experienced, professional contractor, you can safeguard your clients, employees, and company.

A fire is an incredibly stressful experience, and the last thing you want at that scary time is to be blindly searching for help. As a commercial property owner or manager, it’s a good idea to have an established relationship with a trusted, local team who is experienced with these types of projects.

Take the time to establish this relationship when you don’t need it, and you will have help ready when you do. It’s a good idea to interview multiple contractors during your search. Here are some questions that you can use to find the right partner.

■ How long have you been in business?
■ How many commercial fire damage projects do you complete per year, on average?
■ What types of industry standards and education do you follow? What kind of training do you provide for your team?
■ What services do you provide? Can you also provide help with water damage, mold remediation, duct cleaning, and even board up services?
■ Do you offer emergency response services? What will the process look like if I need your help urgently?
■ Do you have experience in working on claims with my insurance carrier? Is there any coverage advice you can give me?
■ Can you help with the reconstruction process as well?
■ Do you have references I can contact?

A good contractor will be happy to answer all of your questions and make sure you understand their process. Finding this partner in advance will be very important in the event of an emergency.

What Steps Should You Take After A Fire At Your Commercial Property

If you own or manage a commercial property or business, a fire is something that you never want to experience. Even the smallest fire can leave a lot of damage behind, and dealing with it can feel overwhelming. Making an insurance claim adds yet another level of complexity. To make sure that you get through this high-value process successfully and as quickly as possible, it’s critical that you get expert help.

When you work with an experienced fire damage restoration contractor, you will have a knowledgeable guide through the whole process. Here is our overview of the steps that you should take immediately following a fire at your property.


  1. Ensure that all building occupants are safe, and call for help from emergency services.
  2. Contact your disaster restoration team. They should be able to respond 24/7 to stop the damage, secure your property, and start the documentation process for your insurance agent.
  3. Contact your insurance company right away. Be sure they know how to reach you in case an emergency occurs that you are not aware of. Provide a back-up contact if necessary.
  4. Secure your property. Even before the adjuster arrives, temporary repairs and emergency board-up services from your contractor can prevent further damage and improve safety and security of your property.
  5. Collect the records you need. Gather the documents you need to prove the value of damaged equipment, inventory, finishes and facilities that will be included in your business insurance claim.
  6. Keep a detailed total of all expenses related to the fire. From securing your property to renting a temporary location, keep detailed records of all costs you incur as a direct result of the fire damage.
  7. Don’t clean up any debris or destroyed items. You should not throw away any damaged items until the claims adjuster has visited, but if you have to due to health or safety reasons, take photos and videos of the site and damaged items first.
  8. Start preparing what you need for a business interruption claim. Business interruption insurance is often a part of commercial property insurance coverage. You can typically submit a business interruption claim when you are impacted by an insured loss like a fire. It provides coverage for the costs of shutting down your business and restoring operations.
  9. Be sure to stay organized. A damaging fire, disrupted operations, and a complex claim process can leave you feeling confused. Fight the confusion by staying organized: Keep easy access to the insurance claim reference number, adjuster and other insurance company contact information, photos and videos of the damage, receipts, bills and estimates.
  10. Keep communication open with your fire damage restoration contractor. Once the adjuster has visited and your insurance company has the information they need, they will provide you with a scope of work that your policy will cover. McMahon Services and Construction will independently inspect your fire loss and provide an estimate. In that process, we will also review your insurance adjuster’s scope, compare it to our scope and make any additions that were not covered in either scope. We will also go over your loss with you, as your input is crucial to achieving an accurate bid.

Work With Professional Partners For Great Results

In any circumstance, dealing with a fire is terrifying. But for Northern Illinois commercial property owners, the aftermath can also be very scary. Even if the fire is small and poses no threat to anyone, the mess it leaves behind for you to clean up may be significant.

Fire damaged structures, burned contents, smoke smells, soot, ash, and dirty water are often left behind after a fire, and each can cause big problems. These are not issues that you should tackle alone – a fire damage restoration professional help is critical.

At McMahon Services and Construction, we have advanced cleaning and restoration techniques that can be used to save many types of products, equipment, displays, furnishings, and more. We can restore so that you don’t have to replace, resulting in big savings. With our professional expertise, we can often restore even porous products such as drywall, carpet, wood, and textiles.

A fast response and expert knowledge will save you both time and money in restoring your property after a fire. Most importantly, you will know that your residents, customers and employees will be safe when they re-enter your property.

Restoration, Reconstruction, or Both

Getting your property back to normal after a fire requires two phases of help: Restoration and reconstruction. Fire and smoke damage restoration includes steps like board up services, water removal (from the water the fire department used to extinguish the fire), dealing with smoke and soot damage, and eliminating lingering smoke odors. The second step, reconstruction, includes rebuilding your property.

At McMahon Services and Construction, customers who have used us for both the fire cleanup services and reconstruction services have expressed how seamless it was to go from one phase to the next. Ultimately this speeds up the entire restoration process and can cost you less in time and in money –getting you back to business as usual as quickly as possible. Whether you have recently experienced a fire, or just want to be prepared by establishing a relationship, we would be happy to speak with you – contact us today to learn more.