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Service Pro Water Damage , termed a bonfire Play media The ignition and extinguishing of a pile of wood shavings Play media The fire maps show the locations of actively burning fires around the world on a monthly basis, based on observations from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite. The colors are based on a count of the number (not size) of fires observed within a 1,000-square-kilometer area. Fire Damage Cleaning show the high end of the count—as many as 100 fires in a 1,000-square-kilometer area per day. Yellow pixels show as many as 10 fires, orange shows as many as 5 fires, and red areas as few as 1 fire per day.

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Fire is the rapid oxidation of a material in the exothermic chemical process of combustion, releasing heat, light, and various reaction products.[1] Slower oxidative processes like rusting or digestion are not included by this definition.

Fire is hot because the conversion of the weak double bond in molecular oxygen, O2, to the stronger bonds in the combustion products carbon dioxide and water releases energy (418 kJ per 32 g of O2); the bond energies of the fuel play only a minor role here.[2] At a certain point in the combustion reaction, called the ignition point, flames are produced. The flame is the visible portion of the fire. Flames consist primarily of carbon dioxide, water vapor, oxygen and nitrogen. If hot enough, the gases may become ionized to produce plasma.[3] Depending on the substances alight, and any impurities outside, the color of the flame and that’s why they use best fire damage assessment services will be different.

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Fire in its most common form can result in conflagration, which has the potential to cause physical damage through burning. Fire is an important process that affects ecological systems around the globe. The positive effects of fire include stimulating growth and maintaining various ecological systems.

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The negative effects of fire include hazard to life and property, atmospheric pollution, and water contamination.[4] If fire removes protective vegetation, heavy rainfall may lead to an increase in soil erosion by water.[5] Also, when vegetation is burned, the nitrogen it contains is released into the atmosphere, unlike elements such as potassium and phosphorus which remain in the ash and are quickly recycled into the soil.

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Fire has been used by humans in rituals, in agriculture for clearing land, for cooking, generating heat and light, for signaling, propulsion purposes, smelting, forging, incineration of waste, cremation, and as a weapon or mode of destruction.

Main article: Combustion The fire tetrahedron

Once ignited, a chain reaction must take place whereby fires can sustain their own heat by the further release of heat energy in the process of combustion and may propagate, provided there is a continuous supply of an oxidizer and fuel.

Fire can be extinguished by removing any one of the elements of the fire tetrahedron. Consider a natural gas flame, such as from a stovetop burner. The fire can be extinguished by any of the following:

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In contrast, fire is intensified by increasing the overall rate of combustion. Methods to do this include balancing the input of fuel and oxidizer to stoichiometric proportions, increasing fuel and oxidizer input in this balanced mix, increasing the ambient temperature so the fire’s own heat is better able to sustain combustion, or providing a catalyst; a non-reactant medium in which the fuel and oxidizer can more readily react.

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Flood Restoration Services   (Redirected from Water damage restoration) Interior of part of a damaged home in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. A smaller and more minor water spot caused by rain water leaking through a roof.

Water damage describes a large number of possible losses caused by water intruding where it will enable attack of a material or system by destructive processes such as rotting of wood, growth, rusting of steel, de-laminating of materials such as plywood, and many others.

The damage may be imperceptibly slow and minor such as water spots that could eventually mar a surface, or it may be instantaneous and catastrophic such as flooding. However fast it occurs, water damage is a major contributor to loss of property.

An insurance policy may or may not cover the costs associated with water damage and the process of water damage restoration. While a common cause of residential water damage is often the failure of a sump pump, many homeowner's insurance policies do not cover the associated costs without an addendum which adds to the monthly premium of the policy. Often the verbiage of this addendum is similar to "Sewer and Drain Coverage".

Those individuals who are affected by wide scale flooding may have the ability to apply for government and FEMA grants through the Individual Assistance program.[1] On a larger level, businesses, cities, and communities can apply to the FEMA Public Assistance program for funds to assist after a large flood. For example, the city of Fond du Lac Wisconsin received $1.2 million FEMA grant after flooding in June 2008. The program allows the city to purchase the water damaged properties, demolish the structures, and turn the properties into public green space.[2]

Water damage can originate by different sources such as a broken dishwasher hose, a washing machine overflow, a dishwasher leakage, broken/leaking pipes, and clogged toilets. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, 13.7% of all water used in the home today can be attributed to plumbing leaks.[3] On average that is approximately 10,000 gallons of water per year wasted by leaks for each US home. A tiny, 1/8-inch crack in a pipe can release up to 250 gallons of water a day.[4] According to Claims Magazine in August 2000, broken water pipes ranked second to hurricanes in terms of both the number of homes damaged and the amount of claims (on average $50,000 per insurance claim[citation needed]) costs in the US.[5] Experts suggest that homeowners inspect and replace worn pipe fittings and hose connections to all household appliances that use water at least once a year. This includes washing machines, dishwashers, kitchen sinks and bathroom lavatories, refrigerator icemakers, water softeners and humidifiers. A few US companies offer whole-house leak protection systems utilizing flow-based technologies. A number of insurance companies offer policy holders reduced rates for installing a whole-house leak protection system.

As far as insurance coverage is concerned, most damage caused by bad weather is considered flood damage and normally is not covered under homeowners insurance. Coverage for bad weather would usually require flood insurance.

Category 1 Water - Refers to a source of water that does not pose substantial threat to humans and classified as "clean water". Examples are broken water supply lines, tub or sink overflows or appliance malfunctions that involves water supply lines.

Category 2 Water - Refers to a source of water that contains a significant degree of chemical, biological or physical contaminants and causes discomfort or sickness when consumed or even exposed to. Known as "grey water". This type carries micro organisms and nutrients of micro organisms. Examples are toilet bowls with urine (no feces), sump pump failures, seepage due to hydrostatic failure and water discharge from dishwashers or washing machines.

Category 3 Water - Known as "black water" and is grossly unsanitary. This water contains unsanitary agents, harmful bacteria and fungi, causing severe discomfort or sickness. Type 3 category are contaminated water sources that affects the indoor environment. This category includes water sources from sewage, seawater, rising water from rivers or streams, ground surface water or standing water. Category 2 Water or Grey Water that is not promptly removed from the structure and or have remained stagnant may be re classified as Category 3 Water. Toilet back flows that originates from beyond the toilet trap is considered black water contamination regardless of visible content or color.[6]

Class of water damage is determined by the probable rate of evaporation based on the type of materials affected, or wet, in the room or space that was flooded. Determining the class of water damage is an important first step, and will determine the amount and type of equipment utilized to dry-down the structure.[7]

Class 1 - Slow Rate of Evaporation. Affects only a portion of a room. Materials have a low permeance/porosity. Minimum moisture is absorbed by the materials.

Class 2 - Fast Rate of Evaporation. Water affects the entire room of carpet and cushion. May have wicked up the walls, but not more than 24 inches.

Class 3 - Fastest Rate of Evaporation. Water generally comes from overhead, affecting the entire area; walls, ceilings, insulation, carpet, cushion, etc.

Class 4 - Specialty Drying Situations. Involves materials with a very low permeance/porosity, such as hardwood floors, concrete, crawlspaces, plaster, etc. Drying generally requires very low specific humidity to accomplish drying.

Different removal methods and measures are used depending on the category of water. Due to the destructive nature of water, chosen restoration methods also depend heavily on the amount of water, and on the amount of time the water has remained stagnant. For example, as long as carpet has not been wet for longer than 48 hours, and the water involved was not sewage based, a carpet can usually be saved; however, if the water has soaked for longer, then the carpet is probably irreparable and will have to be replaced.[8] Water damage restoration can be performed by property management teams, building maintenance personnel, or by the homeowners themselves; however, contacting a certified professional water damage restoration specialist is often regarded as the safest way to restore water damaged property.

While there are currently no government regulations in the United States dictating procedures, two certifying bodies, the Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC) and the RIA, do recommend standards of care. The IICRC-recommended standard is IICRC S500.[9]

Fire and Water Restoration companies are regulated by the appropriate state's Department of Consumer Affairs - usually the state contractors license board. In California, all Fire and Water Restoration companies must register with the California Contractors State License Board.[10] Presently, the California Contractors State License Board has no specific classification for "water and fire damage restoration."

Water damage restoration is often prefaced by a loss assessment and evaluation of affected materials. The damaged area is inspected with water sensing equipment such as probes and other infrared tools in order to determine the source of the damage and possible extent of area affected. Restoration services would then be rendered to the residence in order to dry the structure, sanitize any affected or cross contaminated areas, and deodorize all affected areas and materials. After the labor is completed, water damage equipment including air movers, air scrubbers, dehumidifiers, wood floor drying systems, and sub floor drying equipment is left in the residence. Industry standards state that drying vendors should return at regular time intervals, preferably every twenty-four hours, to monitor the equipment, temperature, humidity, and moisture content of the affected walls and contents.[6]

See also: Mold prevention

Slight discolorations on the walls and ceiling may go unnoticed for a long time as they gradually spread and get more severe. Even if they are noticed, they often are ignored because it is thought that some discoloration will occur as a part of normal wear and tear in a home. Molds spread throughout the living space leading to serious health consequences. Symptoms caused by mold allergy are watery, itchy eyes, a chronic cough, headaches or migraines, difficulty breathing, rashes, tiredness, sinus problems, nasal blockage and frequent sneezing.[citation needed]

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Emergency Cleanup Services An outdoor fire using wood, termed a bonfire Play media The ignition and extinguishing of a pile of wood shavings Play media The fire maps show the locations of actively burning fires around the world on a monthly basis, based on observations from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite. The colors are based on a count of the number (not size) of fires observed within a 1,000-square-kilometer area. White pixels show the high end of the count—as many as 100 fires in a 1,000-square-kilometer area per day. Yellow pixels show as many as 10 fires, orange shows as many as 5 fires, and red areas as few as 1 fire per day.

Fire is the rapid oxidation of a material in the exothermic chemical process of combustion, releasing heat, light, and various reaction products.[1] Slower oxidative processes like rusting or digestion are not included by this definition.

Fire is hot because the conversion of the weak double bond in molecular oxygen, O2, to the stronger bonds in the combustion products carbon dioxide and water releases energy (418 kJ per 32 g of O2); the bond energies of the fuel play only a minor role here.[2] At a certain point in the combustion reaction, called the ignition point, flames are produced. The flame is the visible portion of the fire. Flames consist primarily of carbon dioxide, water vapor, oxygen and nitrogen. If hot enough, the gases may become ionized to produce plasma.[3] Depending on the substances alight, and any impurities outside, the color of the flame and the fire's intensity will be different.

Fire in its most common form can result in conflagration, which has the potential to cause physical damage through burning. Fire is an important process that affects ecological systems around the globe. The positive effects of fire include stimulating growth and maintaining various ecological systems.

The negative effects of fire include hazard to life and property, atmospheric pollution, and water contamination.[4] If fire removes protective vegetation, heavy rainfall may lead to an increase in soil erosion by water.[5] Also, when vegetation is burned, the nitrogen it contains is released into the atmosphere, unlike elements such as potassium and phosphorus which remain in the ash and are quickly recycled into the soil. This loss of nitrogen caused by a fire produces a long-term reduction in the fertility of the soil, which only slowly recovers as nitrogen is "fixed" from the atmosphere by lightning and by leguminous plants such as clover.

Fire has been used by humans in rituals, in agriculture for clearing land, for cooking, generating heat and light, for signaling, propulsion purposes, smelting, forging, incineration of waste, cremation, and as a weapon or mode of destruction.

Main article: Combustion The fire tetrahedron

Fires start when a inflammable or a combustible material, in combination with a sufficient quantity of an oxidizer such as oxygen gas or another oxygen-rich compound (though non-oxygen oxidizers exist), is exposed to a source of heat or ambient temperature above the flash point for the fuel/oxidizer mix, and is able to sustain a rate of rapid oxidation that produces a chain reaction. This is commonly called the fire tetrahedron. Fire cannot exist without all of these elements in place and in the right proportions. For example, an inflammable liquid will start burning only if the fuel and oxygen are in the right proportions. Some fuel-oxygen mixes may require a catalyst, a substance that is not consumed, when added, in any chemical reaction during combustion, but which enables the reactants to combust more readily.

Once ignited, a chain reaction must take place whereby fires can sustain their own heat by the further release of heat energy in the process of combustion and may propagate, provided there is a continuous supply of an oxidizer and fuel.

If the oxidizer is oxygen from the surrounding air, the presence of a force of gravity, or of some similar force caused by acceleration, is necessary to produce convection, which removes combustion products and brings a supply of oxygen to the fire. Without gravity, a fire rapidly surrounds itself with its own combustion products and non-oxidizing gases from the air, which exclude oxygen and extinguish the fire. Because of this, the risk of fire in a spacecraft is small when it is coasting in inertial flight.[6][7] Of course, this does not apply if oxygen is supplied to the fire by some process other than thermal convection.

Fire can be extinguished by removing any one of the elements of the fire tetrahedron. Consider a natural gas flame, such as from a stovetop burner. The fire can be extinguished by any of the following:

In contrast, fire is intensified by increasing the overall rate of combustion. Methods to do this include balancing the input of fuel and oxidizer to stoichiometric proportions, increasing fuel and oxidizer input in this balanced mix, increasing the ambient temperature so the fire's own heat is better able to sustain combustion, or providing a catalyst; a non-reactant medium in which the fuel and oxidizer can more readily react.

Main article: Flame See also: Flame test A candle's flame Photo of a fire taken with a 1/4000th of a second exposure Fire is affected by gravity. Left: Flame on Earth; Right: Flame on ISS

A flame is a mixture of reacting gases and solids emitting visible, infrared, and sometimes ultraviolet light, the frequency spectrum of which depends on the chemical composition of the burning material and intermediate reaction products. In many cases, such as the burning of organic matter, for example wood, or the incomplete combustion of gas, incandescent solid particles called soot produce the familiar red-orange glow of 'fire'. This light has a continuous spectrum. Complete combustion of gas has a dim blue color due to the emission of single-wavelength radiation from various electron transitions in the excited molecules formed in the flame. Usually oxygen is involved, but hydrogen burning in chlorine also produces a flame, producing hydrogen chloride (HCl). Other possible combinations producing flames, amongst many, are fluorine and hydrogen, and hydrazine and nitrogen tetroxide. Hydrogen and hydrazine/UDMH flames are similarly pale blue, while burning boron and its compounds, evaluated in mid-20th century as a high energy fuel for jet and rocket engines, emits intense green flame, leading to its informal nickname of "Green Dragon".

The glow of a flame is complex. Black-body radiation is emitted from soot, gas, and fuel particles, though the soot particles are too small to behave like perfect blackbodies. There is also photon emission by de-excited atoms and molecules in the gases. Much of the radiation is emitted in the visible and infrared bands. The color depends on temperature for the black-body radiation, and on chemical makeup for the emission spectra. The dominant color in a flame changes with temperature. The photo of the forest fire in Canada is an excellent example of this variation. Near the ground, where most burning is occurring, the fire is white, the hottest color possible for organic material in general, or yellow. Above the yellow region, the color changes to orange, which is cooler, then red, which is cooler still. Above the red region, combustion no longer occurs, and the uncombusted carbon particles are visible as black smoke.

The common distribution of a flame under normal gravity conditions depends on convection, as soot tends to rise to the top of a general flame, as in a candle in normal gravity conditions, making it yellow. In micro gravity or zero gravity,[8] such as an environment in outer space, convection no longer occurs, and the flame becomes spherical, with a tendency to become more blue and more efficient (although it may go out if not moved steadily, as the CO2 from combustion does not disperse as readily in micro gravity, and tends to smother the flame). There are several possible explanations for this difference, of which the most likely is that the temperature is sufficiently evenly distributed that soot is not formed and complete combustion occurs.[9] Experiments by NASA reveal that diffusion flames in micro gravity allow more soot to be completely oxidized after they are produced than diffusion flames on Earth, because of a series of mechanisms that behave differently in micro gravity when compared to normal gravity conditions.[10] These discoveries have potential applications in applied science and industry, especially concerning fuel efficiency.

In combustion engines, various steps are taken to eliminate a flame. The method depends mainly on whether the fuel is oil, wood, or a high-energy fuel such as jet fuel.

It is true that objects at specific temperatures do radiate visible light. Objects whose surface is at a temperature above approximately 400 °C (752 °F) will glow, emitting light at a color that indicates the temperature of that surface. See the section on red heat for more about this effect. It is a misconception that one can judge the temperature of a fire by the color of its flames or the sparks in the flames. For many reasons, chemically and optically, these colors may not match the red/orange/yellow/white heat temperatures on the chart. Barium nitrate burns a bright green, for instance, and this is not present on the heat chart.

Main article: adiabatic flame temperature

The "adiabatic flame temperature" of a given fuel and oxidizer pair indicates the temperature at which the gases achieve stable combustion.

Main article: Fire ecology

Every natural ecosystem has its own fire regime, and the organisms in those ecosystems are adapted to or dependent upon that fire regime. Fire creates a mosaic of different habitat patches, each at a different stage of succession.[12] Different species of plants, animals, and microbes specialize in exploiting a particular stage, and by creating these different types of patches, fire allows a greater number of species to exist within a landscape.

Main article: Fossil record of fire

The fossil record of fire first appears with the establishment of a land-based flora in the Middle Ordovician period, 470 million years ago,[13] permitting the accumulation of oxygen in the atmosphere as never before, as the new hordes of land plants pumped it out as a waste product. When this concentration rose above 13%, it permitted the possibility of wildfire.[14] Wildfire is first recorded in the Late Silurian fossil record, 420 million years ago, by fossils of charcoalified plants.[15][16] Apart from a controversial gap in the Late Devonian, charcoal is present ever since.[16] The level of atmospheric oxygen is closely related to the prevalence of charcoal: clearly oxygen is the key factor in the abundance of wildfire.[17] Fire also became more abundant when grasses radiated and became the dominant component of many ecosystems, around 6 to 7 million years ago;[18] this kindling provided tinder which allowed for the more rapid spread of fire.[17] These widespread fires may have initiated a positive feedback process, whereby they produced a warmer, drier climate more conducive to fire.[17]

Main article: Control of fire by early humans Process of ignition of a match

The ability to control fire was a dramatic change in the habits of early humans. Making fire to generate heat and light made it possible for people to cook food, simultaneously increasing the variety and availability of nutrients and reducing disease by killing organisms in the food. The heat produced would also help people stay warm in cold weather, enabling them to live in cooler climates. Fire also kept nocturnal predators at bay. Evidence of cooked food is found from 1.9 million years ago,[19] although there is a theory that fire could have been used in a controlled fashion about 1 million years ago.[20][21] Evidence becomes widespread around 50 to 100 thousand years ago, suggesting regular use from this time; resistance to air pollution started to evolve in human populations at a similar point in time.[20] The use of fire became progressively more sophisticated, with it being used to create charcoal and to control wildlife from tens of thousands of years ago.[20]

Fire has also been used for centuries as a method of torture and execution, as evidenced by death by burning as well as torture devices such as the iron boot, which could be filled with water, oil, or even lead and then heated over an open fire to the agony of the wearer.

By the Neolithic Revolution,[citation needed] during the introduction of grain-based agriculture, people all over the world used fire as a tool in landscape management. These fires were typically controlled burns or "cool fires",[citation needed] as opposed to uncontrolled "hot fires", which damage the soil. Hot fires destroy plants and animals, and endanger communities. This is especially a problem in the forests of today where traditional burning is prevented in order to encourage the growth of timber crops. Cool fires are generally conducted in the spring and autumn. They clear undergrowth, burning up biomass that could trigger a hot fire should it get too dense. They provide a greater variety of environments, which encourages game and plant diversity. For humans, they make dense, impassable forests traversable. Another human use for fire in regards to landscape management is its use to clear land for agriculture. Slash-and-burn agriculture is still common across much of tropical Africa, Asia and South America. "For small farmers, it is a convenient way to clear overgrown areas and release nutrients from standing vegetation back into the soil," said Miguel Pinedo-Vasquez, an ecologist at the Earth Institute’s Center for Environmental Research and Conservation.[22] However this useful strategy is also problematic. Growing population, fragmentation of forests and warming climate are making the earth's surface more prone to ever-larger escaped fires. These harm ecosystems and human infrastructure, cause health problems, and send up spirals of carbon and soot that may encourage even more warming of the atmosphere–and thus feed back into more fires. Globally today, as much as 5 million square kilometers–an area more than half the size of the United States–burns in a given year.[22]

There are numerous modern applications of fire. In its broadest sense, fire is used by nearly every human being on earth in a controlled setting every day. Users of internal combustion vehicles employ fire every time they drive. Thermal power stations provide electricity for a large percentage of humanity.

Hamburg after four fire-bombing raids in July 1943, which killed an estimated 50,000 people[23]

The use of fire in warfare has a long history. Fire was the basis of all early thermal weapons. Homer detailed the use of fire by Greek soldiers who hid in a wooden horse to burn Troy during the Trojan war. Later the Byzantine fleet used Greek fire to attack ships and men. In the First World War, the first modern flamethrowers were used by infantry, and were successfully mounted on armoured vehicles in the Second World War. In the latter war, incendiary bombs were used by Axis and Allies alike, notably on Tokyo, Rotterdam, London, Hamburg and, notoriously, at Dresden; in the latter two cases firestorms were deliberately caused in which a ring of fire surrounding each city[citation needed] was drawn inward by an updraft caused by a central cluster of fires. The United States Army Air Force also extensively used incendiaries against Japanese targets in the latter months of the war, devastating entire cities constructed primarily of wood and paper houses. The use of napalm was employed in July 1944, towards the end of the Second World War;[24] although its use did not gain public attention until the Vietnam War.[24]Molotov cocktails were also used.

A coal-fired power station in the People's Republic of China Disability-adjusted life year for fires per 100,000 inhabitants in 2004[25]   no data   less than 50   50–100   100–150   150–200   200–250   250–300   300–350   350–400   400–450   450–500   500–600   more than 600

Setting fuel aflame releases usable energy. Wood was a prehistoric fuel, and is still viable today. The use of fossil fuels, such as petroleum, natural gas, and coal, in power plants supplies the vast majority of the world's electricity today; the International Energy Agency states that nearly 80% of the world's power came from these sources in 2002.[26] The fire in a power station is used to heat water, creating steam that drives turbines. The turbines then spin an electric generator to produce electricity. Fire is also used to provide mechanical work directly, in both external and internal combustion engines.

The unburnable solid remains of a combustible material left after a fire is called clinker if its melting point is below the flame temperature, so that it fuses and then solidifies as it cools, and ash if its melting point is above the flame temperature.

Main articles: Wildfire and Fire protection Play media This visualization shows fires detected in the United States from July 2002 through July 2011. Look for fires that reliably burn each year in western states and across the Southeast.

Wildfire prevention programs around the world may employ techniques such as wildland fire use and prescribed or controlled burns.[27][28]Wildland fire use refers to any fire of natural causes that is monitored but allowed to burn. Controlled burns are fires ignited by government agencies under less dangerous weather conditions.[29]

Fire fighting services are provided in most developed areas to extinguish or contain uncontrolled fires. Trained firefighters use fire apparatus, water supply resources such as water mains and fire hydrants or they might use A and B class foam depending on what is feeding the fire.

Fire prevention is intended to reduce sources of ignition. Fire prevention also includes education to teach people how to avoid causing fires.[30] Buildings, especially schools and tall buildings, often conduct fire drills to inform and prepare citizens on how to react to a building fire. Purposely starting destructive fires constitutes arson and is a crime in most jurisdictions.

Model building codes require passive fire protection and active fire protection systems to minimize damage resulting from a fire. The most common form of active fire protection is fire sprinklers. To maximize passive fire protection of buildings, building materials and furnishings in most developed countries are tested for fire-resistance, combustibility and flammability. Upholstery, carpeting and plastics used in vehicles and vessels are also tested.

Where fire prevention and fire protection have failed to prevent damage, fire insurance can mitigate the financial impact.[31]

Different restoration methods and measures are used depending on the type of fire damage that occurred. Restoration after fire damage can be performed by property management teams, building maintenance personnel, or by the homeowners themselves; however, contacting a certified professional fire damage restoration specialist is often regarded as the safest way to restore fire damaged property due to their training and extensive experience.[32] Most are usually listed under "Fire and Water Restoration" and they can help speed repairs, whether for individual homeowners or for the largest of institutions.[33]

Fire and Water Restoration companies are regulated by the appropriate state's Department of Consumer Affairs – usually the state contractors license board. In California, all Fire and Water Restoration companies must register with the California Contractors State License Board.[34] Presently, the California Contractors State License Board has no specific classification for "water and fire damage restoration." Hence, the Contractor's State License Board requires both an asbestos certification (ASB) as well as a demolition classification (C-21) in order to perform Fire and Water Restoration work.[35]

Fire Restoration

Water Damage Restoration Contractor Smoke Smoke from a bee smoker, used in beekeeping. An internationally recognizable "No Smoking" sign.

Smoke is a collection of airborne solid and liquid particulates and gases[1] emitted when a material undergoes combustion or pyrolysis, together with the quantity of air that is entrained or otherwise mixed into the mass. It is commonly an unwanted by-product of fires (including stoves, candles, oil lamps, and fireplaces), but may also be used for pest control (fumigation), communication (smoke signals), defensive and offensive capabilities in the military (smoke-screen), cooking, or smoking (tobacco, cannabis, etc.). Smoke is used in rituals where incense, sage, or resin is burned to produce a smell for spiritual purposes. Smoke is sometimes used as a flavoring agent, and preservative for various foodstuffs. Smoke is also a component of internal combustion engine exhaust gas, particularly diesel exhaust.

Smoke inhalation is the primary cause of death in victims of indoor fires. The smoke kills by a combination of thermal damage, poisoning and pulmonary irritation caused by carbon monoxide, hydrogen cyanide and other combustion products.

Smoke is an aerosol (or mist) of solid particles and liquid droplets that are close to the ideal range of sizes for Mie scattering of visible light.[2] This effect has been likened to three-dimensional textured privacy glass[citation needed] — a smoke cloud does not obstruct an image, but thoroughly scrambles it.

The composition of smoke depends on the nature of the burning fuel and the conditions of combustion.

Fires with high availability of oxygen burn at a high temperature and with small amount of smoke produced; the particles are mostly composed of ash, or with large temperature differences, of condensed aerosol of water. High temperature also leads to production of nitrogen oxides.[3] Sulfur content yields sulfur dioxide, or in case of incomplete combustion, hydrogen sulfide.[4] Carbon and hydrogen are almost completely oxidized to carbon dioxide and water.[5] Fires burning with lack of oxygen produce a significantly wider palette of compounds, many of them toxic.[5]Partial oxidation of carbon produces carbon monoxide, nitrogen-containing materials can yield hydrogen cyanide, ammonia, and nitrogen oxides.[6]Hydrogen gas can be produced instead of water.[6] Content of halogens such as chlorine (e.g. in polyvinyl chloride or brominated flame retardants) may lead to production of e.g. hydrogen chloride, phosgene, dioxin, and chloromethane, bromomethane and other halocarbons.[6][7]Hydrogen fluoride can be formed from fluorocarbons, whether fluoropolymers subjected to fire or halocarbon fire suppression agents. Phosphorus and antimony oxides and their reaction products can be formed from some fire retardant additives, increasing smoke toxicity and corrosivity.[7]Pyrolysis of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB), e.g. from burning older transformer oil, and to lower degree also of other chlorine-containing materials, can produce 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzodioxin, a potent carcinogen, and other polychlorinated dibenzodioxins.[7] Pyrolysis of fluoropolymers, e.g. teflon, in presence of oxygen yields carbonyl fluoride (which hydrolyzes readily to HF and CO2); other compounds may be formed as well, e.g. carbon tetrafluoride, hexafluoropropylene, and highly toxic perfluoroisobutene (PFIB).[8]

Emission of soot in the fumes of a large diesel truck, without particle filters.

Pyrolysis of burning material, especially incomplete combustion or smoldering without adequate oxygen supply, also results in production of a large amount of hydrocarbons, both aliphatic (methane, ethane, ethylene, acetylene) and aromatic (benzene and its derivates, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons; e.g. benzo[a]pyrene, studied as a carcinogen, or retene), terpenes.[9]Heterocyclic compounds may be also present.[10] Heavier hydrocarbons may condense as tar; smoke with significant tar content is yellow to brown.[11] Presence of such smoke, soot, and/or brown oily deposits during a fire indicates a possible hazardous situation, as the atmosphere may be saturated with combustible pyrolysis products with concentration above the upper flammability limit, and sudden inrush of air can cause flashover or backdraft.[12]

Presence of sulfur can lead to formation of e.g. hydrogen sulfide, carbonyl sulfide, sulfur dioxide, carbon disulfide, and thiols; especially thiols tend to get adsorbed on surfaces and produce a lingering odor even long after the fire. Partial oxidation of the released hydrocarbons yields in a wide palette of other compounds: aldehydes (e.g. formaldehyde, acrolein, and furfural), ketones, alcohols (often aromatic, e.g. phenol, guaiacol, syringol, catechol, and cresols), carboxylic acids (formic acid, acetic acid, etc.).

The visible particulate matter in such smokes is most commonly composed of carbon (soot). Other particulates may be composed of drops of condensed tar, or solid particles of ash. The presence of metals in the fuel yields particles of metal oxides. Particles of inorganic salts may also be formed, e.g. ammonium sulfate, ammonium nitrate, or sodium chloride. Inorganic salts present on the surface of the soot particles may make them hydrophilic. Many organic compounds, typically the aromatic hydrocarbons, may be also adsorbed on the surface of the solid particles. Metal oxides can be present when metal-containing fuels are burned, e.g. solid rocket fuels containing aluminium. Depleted uranium projectiles after impacting the target ignite, producing particles of uranium oxides. Magnetic particles, spherules of magnetite-like ferrous ferric oxide, are present in coal smoke; their increase in deposits after 1860 marks the beginning of the Industrial Revolution.[13] (Magnetic iron oxide nanoparticles can be also produced in the smoke from meteorites burning in the atmosphere.)[14] Magnetic remanence, recorded in the iron oxide particles, indicates the strength of Earth's magnetic field when they were cooled beyond their Curie temperature; this can be used to distinguish magnetic particles of terrestrial and meteoric origin.[15]Fly ash is composed mainly of silica and calcium oxide. Cenospheres are present in smoke from liquid hydrocarbon fuels. Minute metal particles produced by abrasion can be present in engine smokes. Amorphous silica particles are present in smokes from burning silicones; small proportion of silicon nitride particles can be formed in fires with insufficient oxygen. The silica particles have about 10 nm size, clumped to 70-100 nm aggregates and further agglomerated to chains.[8] Radioactive particles may be present due to traces of uranium, thorium, or other radionuclides in the fuel; hot particles can be present in case of fires during nuclear accidents (e.g. Chernobyl disaster) or nuclear war.

Smoke particulates, like other aerosols, are categorized into three modes based on particle size:

Most of the smoke material is primarily in coarse particles. Those undergo rapid dry precipitation, and the smoke damage in more distant areas outside of the room where the fire occurs is therefore primarily mediated by the smaller particles.[16]

Aerosol of particles beyond visible size is an early indicator of materials in a preignition stage of a fire.[8]

Burning of hydrogen-rich fuel produces water; this results in smoke containing droplets of water vapor. In absence of other color sources (nitrogen oxides, particulates...), such smoke is white and cloud-like.

Smoke emissions may contain characteristic trace elements. Vanadium is present in emissions from oil fired power plants and refineries; oil plants also emit some nickel. Coal combustion produces emissions containing aluminium, arsenic, chromium, cobalt, copper, iron, mercury, selenium, and uranium.

Traces of vanadium in high-temperature combustion products form droplets of molten vanadates. These attack the passivation layers on metals and cause high temperature corrosion, which is a concern especially for internal combustion engines. Molten sulfate and lead particulates also have such effect.

Some components of smoke are characteristic of the combustion source. Guaiacol and its derivatives are products of pyrolysis of lignin and are characteristic of wood smoke; other markers are syringol and derivates, and other methoxy phenols. Retene, a product of pyrolysis of conifer trees, is an indicator of forest fires. Levoglucosan is a pyrolysis product of cellulose. Hardwood vs softwood smokes differ in the ratio of guaiacols/syringols. Markers for vehicle exhaust include polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, hopanes, steranes, and specific nitroarenes (e.g. 1-nitropyrene). The ratio of hopanes and steranes to elemental carbon can be used to distinguish between emissions of gasoline and diesel engines.[17]

Many compounds can be associated with particulates; whether by being adsorbed on their surfaces, or by being dissolved in liquid droplets. Hydrogen chloride is well absorbed in the soot particles.[16]

Inert particulate matter can be disturbed and entrained into the smoke. Of particular concern are particles of asbestos.

Deposited hot particles of radioactive fallout and bioaccumulated radioisotopes can be reintroduced into the atmosphere by wildfires and forest fires; this is a concern in e.g. the Zone of alienation containing contaminants from the Chernobyl disaster.

Polymers are a significant source of smoke. Aromatic side groups, e.g. in polystyrene, enhance generation of smoke. Aromatic groups integrated in the polymer backbone produce less smoke, likely due to significant charring. Aliphatic polymers tend to generate the least smoke, and are non-self-extinguishing. However presence of additives can significantly increase smoke formation. Phosphorus-based and halogen-based flame retardants decrease production of smoke. Higher degree of cross-linking between the polymer chains has such effect too.[18]

Smoke from a wildfire Smoke rising up from the smoldering remains of a recently extingished mountain fire in South Africa.

The naked eye detects particle sizes greater than 7 µm (micrometres). Visible particles emitted from a fire are referred to as smoke. Invisible particles are generally referred to as gas or fumes. This is best illustrated when toasting bread in a toaster. As the bread heats up, the products of combustion increase in size. The fumes initially produced are invisible but become visible if the toast is burnt.

An ionization chamber type smoke detector is technically a product of combustion detector, not a smoke detector. Ionization chamber type smoke detectors detect particles of combustion that are invisible to the naked eye. This explains why they may frequently false alarm from the fumes emitted from the red-hot heating elements of a toaster, before the presence of visible smoke, yet they may fail to activate in the early, low-heat smoldering stage of a fire.

Smoke from a typical house fire contains hundreds of different chemicals and fumes. As a result, the damage caused by the smoke can often exceed that caused by the actual heat of the fire. In addition to the physical damage caused by the smoke of a fire – which manifests itself in the form of stains – is the often even harder to eliminate problem of a smoky odor. Just as there are contractors that specialize in rebuilding/repairing homes that have been damaged by fire and smoke, fabric restoration companies specialize in restoring fabrics that have been damaged in a fire.

Smoke from oxygen-deprived fires contains a significant concentration of compounds that are flammable. A cloud of smoke, in contact with atmospheric oxygen, therefore has the potential of being ignited – either by another open flame in the area, or by its own temperature. This leads to effects like backdraft and flashover. Smoke inhalation is also a danger of smoke that can cause serious injury and death.

Woman of Nigeria processing fish without considering the health risk

Many compounds of smoke from fires are highly toxic and/or irritating. The most dangerous is carbon monoxide leading to carbon monoxide poisoning, sometimes with the additive effects of hydrogen cyanide and phosgene. Smoke inhalation can therefore quickly lead to incapacitation and loss of consciousness. Sulfur oxides, hydrogen chloride and hydrogen fluoride in contact with moisture form sulfuric, hydrochloric and hydrofluoric acid, which are corrosive to both lungs and materials. When asleep the nose does not sense smoke nor does the brain, but the body will wake up if the lungs become enveloped in smoke and the brain will be stimulated and the person will be awoken. This does not work if the person is incapacitated or under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol.

Cigarette smoke is a major modifiable risk factor for lung disease, heart disease, and many cancers. Smoke can also be a component of ambient air pollution due to the burning of coal in power plants, forest fires or other sources, although the concentration of pollutants in ambient air is typically much less than that in cigarette smoke. One day of exposure to PM2.5 at a concentration of 880 μg/m3, such as occurs in Beijing, China, is the equivalent of smoking one or two cigarettes in terms of particulate inhalation by weight.[19][20] The analysis is complicated, however, by the fact that the organic compounds present in various ambient particulates may have a higher carcinogenicity than the compounds in cigarette smoke particulates.[21] Secondhand tobacco smoke is the combination of both sidestream and mainstream smoke emissions from a burning tobacco product. These emissions contain more than 50 carcinogenic chemicals. According to the Surgeon General's latest report on the subject, "Short exposures to secondhand [tobacco] smoke can cause blood platelets to become stickier, damage the lining of blood vessels, decrease coronary flow velocity reserves, and reduce heart variability, potentially increasing the risk of a heart attack".[22] The American Cancer Society lists "heart disease, lung infections, increased asthma attacks, middle ear infections, and low birth weight" as ramifications of smoker's emission.[23]

Reduced visibility due to wildfire smoke in Sheremetyevo airport (Moscow, Russia) 7 August 2010.

Smoke can obscure visibility, impeding occupant exiting from fire areas. In fact, the poor visibility due to the smoke that was in the Worcester Cold Storage Warehouse fire in Worcester, Massachusetts was the exact reason why the trapped rescue firefighters couldn't evacuate the building in time. Because of the striking similarity that each floor shared, the dense smoke caused the firefighters to become disoriented.[24]

Smoke contains a wide variety of chemicals, many of them aggressive in nature. Examples are hydrochloric acid and hydrobromic acid, produced from halogen-containing plastics and fire retardants, hydrofluoric acid released by pyrolysis of fluorocarbon fire suppression agents, sulfuric acid from burning of sulfur-containing materials, nitric acid from high-temperature fires where nitrous oxide gets formed, phosphoric acid and antimony compounds from P and Sb based fire retardants, and many others. Such corrosion is not significant for structural materials, but delicate structures, especially microelectronics, are strongly affected. Corrosion of circuit board traces, penetration of aggressive chemicals through the casings of parts, and other effects can cause an immediate or gradual deterioration of parameters or even premature (and often delayed, as the corrosion can progress over long time) failure of equipment subjected to smoke. Many smoke components are also electrically conductive; deposition of a conductive layer on the circuits can cause crosstalks and other deteriorations of the operating parameters or even cause short circuits and total failures. Electrical contacts can be affected by corrosion of surfaces, and by deposition of soot and other conductive particles or nonconductive layers on or across the contacts. Deposited particles may adversely affect the performance of optoelectronics by absorbing or scattering the light beams.

Corrosivity of smoke produced by materials is characterized by the corrosion index (CI), defined as material loss rate (angstrom/minute) per amount of material gasified products (grams) per volume of air (m3). It is measured by exposing strips of metal to flow of combustion products in a test tunnel. Polymers containing halogen and hydrogen (polyvinyl chloride, polyolefins with halogenated additives, etc.) have the highest CI as the corrosive acids are formed directly with water produced by the combustion, polymers containing halogen only (e.g. polytetrafluoroethylene) have lower CI as the formation of acid is limited to reactions with airborne humidity, and halogen-free materials (polyolefins, wood) have the lowest CI.[16] However, some halogen-free materials can also release significant amount of corrosive products.[25]

Smoke damage to electronic equipment can be significantly more extensive than the fire itself. Cable fires are of special concern; low smoke zero halogen materials are preferable for cable insulation.

When smoke comes into contact with the surface of any substance or structure, the chemicals contained in it are transferred to it. The corrosive properties of the chemicals cause the substance or structure to decompose at a rapid rate. Certain materials or structures absorb these chemicals, which is why clothing, unsealed surfaces, potable water, piping, wood, etc., are replaced in most cases of structural fires.

As early as the 15th century Leonardo da Vinci commented at length on the difficulty of assessing smoke, and distinguished between black smoke (carbonized particles) and white 'smoke' which is not a smoke at all but merely a suspension of harmless water particulates.[26]

Smoke from heating appliances is commonly measured in one of the following ways:

In-line capture. A smoke sample is simply sucked through a filter which is weighed before and after the test and the mass of smoke found. This is the simplest and probably the most accurate method, but can only be used where the smoke concentration is slight, as the filter can quickly become blocked.[27]

The ASTM smoke pump is a simple and widely used method of in-line capture where a measured volume of smoke is pulled through a filter paper and the dark spot so formed is compared with a standard.

Filter/dilution tunnel. A smoke sample is drawn through a tube where it is diluted with air, the resulting smoke/air mixture is then pulled through a filter and weighed. This is the internationally recognized method of measuring smoke from combustion.[28]

Electrostatic precipitation. The smoke is passed through an array of metal tubes which contain suspended wires. A (huge) electrical potential is applied across the tubes and wires so that the smoke particles become charged and are attracted to the sides of the tubes. This method can over-read by capturing harmless condensates, or under-read due to the insulating effect of the smoke. However, it is the necessary method for assessing volumes of smoke too great to be forced through a filter, i.e., from bituminous coal.

Ringelmann scale. A measure of smoke color. Invented by Professor Maximilian Ringelmann in Paris in 1888, it is essentially a card with squares of black, white and shades of gray which is held up and the comparative grayness of the smoke judged. Highly dependent on light conditions and the skill of the observer it allocates a grayness number from 0 (white) to 5 (black) which has only a passing relationship to the actual quantity of smoke. Nonetheless, the simplicity of the Ringelmann scale means that it has been adopted as a standard in many countries.

Cossar scale. The change of atmospheric smoke particulate concentration resulting from the presence of Barry Cossar. The ratio of smoke to air exiting Barry Cossar is measured and compared against that in the surrounding atmosphere. This dynamic scale ranges from zero to seven; reported measurements typically average very near seven.[citation needed]

Optical scattering. A light beam is passed through the smoke. A light detector is situated at an angle to the light source, typically at 90°, so that it receives only light reflected from passing particles. A measurement is made of the light received which will be higher as the concentration of smoke particles becomes higher.

Optical obscuration. A light beam is passed through the smoke and a detector opposite measures the light. The more smoke particles are present between the two, the less light will be measured.

Combined optical methods. There are various proprietary optical smoke measurement devices such as the 'nephelometer' or the 'aethalometer' which use several different optical methods, including more than one wavelength of light, inside a single instrument and apply an algorithm to give a good estimate of smoke. It has been claimed that these devices can differentiate types of smoke and so their probable source can be inferred, though this is disputed.[29]

Inference from carbon monoxide. Smoke is incompletely burned fuel, carbon monoxide is incompletely burned carbon, therefore it has long been assumed that measurement of CO in flue gas (a cheap, simple and very accurate procedure) will provide a good indication of the levels of smoke. Indeed, several jurisdictions use CO measurement as the basis of smoke control. However it is far from clear how accurate the correspondence is.

Throughout recorded history, humans have used the smoke of medicinal plants to cure illness. A sculpture from Persepolis shows Darius the Great (522–486 BC), the king of Persia, with two censers in front of him for burning Peganum harmala and/or sandalwood Santalum album, which was believed to protect the king from evil and disease. More than 300 plant species in 5 continents are used in smoke form for different diseases. As a method of drug administration, smoking is important as it is a simple, inexpensive, but very effective method of extracting particles containing active agents. More importantly, generating smoke reduces the particle size to a microscopic scale thereby increasing the absorption of its active chemical principles.[30]

Smoke Removal

TX

Mold Repair Companies Smoke Smoke from a bee smoker, used in beekeeping. An internationally recognizable "No Smoking" sign.

Smoke is a collection of airborne solid and liquid particulates and gases[1] emitted when a material undergoes combustion or pyrolysis, together with the quantity of air that is entrained or otherwise mixed into the mass. It is commonly an unwanted by-product of fires (including stoves, candles, oil lamps, and fireplaces), but may also be used for pest control (fumigation), communication (smoke signals), defensive and offensive capabilities in the military (smoke-screen), cooking, or smoking (tobacco, cannabis, etc.). Smoke is used in rituals where incense, sage, or resin is burned to produce a smell for spiritual purposes. Smoke is sometimes used as a flavoring agent, and preservative for various foodstuffs. Smoke is also a component of internal combustion engine exhaust gas, particularly diesel exhaust.

Smoke inhalation is the primary cause of death in victims of indoor fires. The smoke kills by a combination of thermal damage, poisoning and pulmonary irritation caused by carbon monoxide, hydrogen cyanide and other combustion products.

Smoke is an aerosol (or mist) of solid particles and liquid droplets that are close to the ideal range of sizes for Mie scattering of visible light.[2] This effect has been likened to three-dimensional textured privacy glass[citation needed] — a smoke cloud does not obstruct an image, but thoroughly scrambles it.

The composition of smoke depends on the nature of the burning fuel and the conditions of combustion.

Fires with high availability of oxygen burn at a high temperature and with small amount of smoke produced; the particles are mostly composed of ash, or with large temperature differences, of condensed aerosol of water. High temperature also leads to production of nitrogen oxides.[3] Sulfur content yields sulfur dioxide, or in case of incomplete combustion, hydrogen sulfide.[4] Carbon and hydrogen are almost completely oxidized to carbon dioxide and water.[5] Fires burning with lack of oxygen produce a significantly wider palette of compounds, many of them toxic.[5]Partial oxidation of carbon produces carbon monoxide, nitrogen-containing materials can yield hydrogen cyanide, ammonia, and nitrogen oxides.[6]Hydrogen gas can be produced instead of water.[6] Content of halogens such as chlorine (e.g. in polyvinyl chloride or brominated flame retardants) may lead to production of e.g. hydrogen chloride, phosgene, dioxin, and chloromethane, bromomethane and other halocarbons.[6][7]Hydrogen fluoride can be formed from fluorocarbons, whether fluoropolymers subjected to fire or halocarbon fire suppression agents. Phosphorus and antimony oxides and their reaction products can be formed from some fire retardant additives, increasing smoke toxicity and corrosivity.[7]Pyrolysis of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB), e.g. from burning older transformer oil, and to lower degree also of other chlorine-containing materials, can produce 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzodioxin, a potent carcinogen, and other polychlorinated dibenzodioxins.[7] Pyrolysis of fluoropolymers, e.g. teflon, in presence of oxygen yields carbonyl fluoride (which hydrolyzes readily to HF and CO2); other compounds may be formed as well, e.g. carbon tetrafluoride, hexafluoropropylene, and highly toxic perfluoroisobutene (PFIB).[8]

Emission of soot in the fumes of a large diesel truck, without particle filters.

Pyrolysis of burning material, especially incomplete combustion or smoldering without adequate oxygen supply, also results in production of a large amount of hydrocarbons, both aliphatic (methane, ethane, ethylene, acetylene) and aromatic (benzene and its derivates, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons; e.g. benzo[a]pyrene, studied as a carcinogen, or retene), terpenes.[9]Heterocyclic compounds may be also present.[10] Heavier hydrocarbons may condense as tar; smoke with significant tar content is yellow to brown.[11] Presence of such smoke, soot, and/or brown oily deposits during a fire indicates a possible hazardous situation, as the atmosphere may be saturated with combustible pyrolysis products with concentration above the upper flammability limit, and sudden inrush of air can cause flashover or backdraft.[12]

Presence of sulfur can lead to formation of e.g. hydrogen sulfide, carbonyl sulfide, sulfur dioxide, carbon disulfide, and thiols; especially thiols tend to get adsorbed on surfaces and produce a lingering odor even long after the fire. Partial oxidation of the released hydrocarbons yields in a wide palette of other compounds: aldehydes (e.g. formaldehyde, acrolein, and furfural), ketones, alcohols (often aromatic, e.g. phenol, guaiacol, syringol, catechol, and cresols), carboxylic acids (formic acid, acetic acid, etc.).

The visible particulate matter in such smokes is most commonly composed of carbon (soot). Other particulates may be composed of drops of condensed tar, or solid particles of ash. The presence of metals in the fuel yields particles of metal oxides. Particles of inorganic salts may also be formed, e.g. ammonium sulfate, ammonium nitrate, or sodium chloride. Inorganic salts present on the surface of the soot particles may make them hydrophilic. Many organic compounds, typically the aromatic hydrocarbons, may be also adsorbed on the surface of the solid particles. Metal oxides can be present when metal-containing fuels are burned, e.g. solid rocket fuels containing aluminium. Depleted uranium projectiles after impacting the target ignite, producing particles of uranium oxides. Magnetic particles, spherules of magnetite-like ferrous ferric oxide, are present in coal smoke; their increase in deposits after 1860 marks the beginning of the Industrial Revolution.[13] (Magnetic iron oxide nanoparticles can be also produced in the smoke from meteorites burning in the atmosphere.)[14] Magnetic remanence, recorded in the iron oxide particles, indicates the strength of Earth's magnetic field when they were cooled beyond their Curie temperature; this can be used to distinguish magnetic particles of terrestrial and meteoric origin.[15]Fly ash is composed mainly of silica and calcium oxide. Cenospheres are present in smoke from liquid hydrocarbon fuels. Minute metal particles produced by abrasion can be present in engine smokes. Amorphous silica particles are present in smokes from burning silicones; small proportion of silicon nitride particles can be formed in fires with insufficient oxygen. The silica particles have about 10 nm size, clumped to 70-100 nm aggregates and further agglomerated to chains.[8] Radioactive particles may be present due to traces of uranium, thorium, or other radionuclides in the fuel; hot particles can be present in case of fires during nuclear accidents (e.g. Chernobyl disaster) or nuclear war.

Smoke particulates, like other aerosols, are categorized into three modes based on particle size:

Most of the smoke material is primarily in coarse particles. Those undergo rapid dry precipitation, and the smoke damage in more distant areas outside of the room where the fire occurs is therefore primarily mediated by the smaller particles.[16]

Aerosol of particles beyond visible size is an early indicator of materials in a preignition stage of a fire.[8]

Burning of hydrogen-rich fuel produces water; this results in smoke containing droplets of water vapor. In absence of other color sources (nitrogen oxides, particulates...), such smoke is white and cloud-like.

Smoke emissions may contain characteristic trace elements. Vanadium is present in emissions from oil fired power plants and refineries; oil plants also emit some nickel. Coal combustion produces emissions containing aluminium, arsenic, chromium, cobalt, copper, iron, mercury, selenium, and uranium.

Traces of vanadium in high-temperature combustion products form droplets of molten vanadates. These attack the passivation layers on metals and cause high temperature corrosion, which is a concern especially for internal combustion engines. Molten sulfate and lead particulates also have such effect.

Some components of smoke are characteristic of the combustion source. Guaiacol and its derivatives are products of pyrolysis of lignin and are characteristic of wood smoke; other markers are syringol and derivates, and other methoxy phenols. Retene, a product of pyrolysis of conifer trees, is an indicator of forest fires. Levoglucosan is a pyrolysis product of cellulose. Hardwood vs softwood smokes differ in the ratio of guaiacols/syringols. Markers for vehicle exhaust include polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, hopanes, steranes, and specific nitroarenes (e.g. 1-nitropyrene). The ratio of hopanes and steranes to elemental carbon can be used to distinguish between emissions of gasoline and diesel engines.[17]

Many compounds can be associated with particulates; whether by being adsorbed on their surfaces, or by being dissolved in liquid droplets. Hydrogen chloride is well absorbed in the soot particles.[16]

Inert particulate matter can be disturbed and entrained into the smoke. Of particular concern are particles of asbestos.

Deposited hot particles of radioactive fallout and bioaccumulated radioisotopes can be reintroduced into the atmosphere by wildfires and forest fires; this is a concern in e.g. the Zone of alienation containing contaminants from the Chernobyl disaster.

Polymers are a significant source of smoke. Aromatic side groups, e.g. in polystyrene, enhance generation of smoke. Aromatic groups integrated in the polymer backbone produce less smoke, likely due to significant charring. Aliphatic polymers tend to generate the least smoke, and are non-self-extinguishing. However presence of additives can significantly increase smoke formation. Phosphorus-based and halogen-based flame retardants decrease production of smoke. Higher degree of cross-linking between the polymer chains has such effect too.[18]

Smoke from a wildfire Smoke rising up from the smoldering remains of a recently extingished mountain fire in South Africa.

The naked eye detects particle sizes greater than 7 µm (micrometres). Visible particles emitted from a fire are referred to as smoke. Invisible particles are generally referred to as gas or fumes. This is best illustrated when toasting bread in a toaster. As the bread heats up, the products of combustion increase in size. The fumes initially produced are invisible but become visible if the toast is burnt.

An ionization chamber type smoke detector is technically a product of combustion detector, not a smoke detector. Ionization chamber type smoke detectors detect particles of combustion that are invisible to the naked eye. This explains why they may frequently false alarm from the fumes emitted from the red-hot heating elements of a toaster, before the presence of visible smoke, yet they may fail to activate in the early, low-heat smoldering stage of a fire.

Smoke from a typical house fire contains hundreds of different chemicals and fumes. As a result, the damage caused by the smoke can often exceed that caused by the actual heat of the fire. In addition to the physical damage caused by the smoke of a fire – which manifests itself in the form of stains – is the often even harder to eliminate problem of a smoky odor. Just as there are contractors that specialize in rebuilding/repairing homes that have been damaged by fire and smoke, fabric restoration companies specialize in restoring fabrics that have been damaged in a fire.

Smoke from oxygen-deprived fires contains a significant concentration of compounds that are flammable. A cloud of smoke, in contact with atmospheric oxygen, therefore has the potential of being ignited – either by another open flame in the area, or by its own temperature. This leads to effects like backdraft and flashover. Smoke inhalation is also a danger of smoke that can cause serious injury and death.

Woman of Nigeria processing fish without considering the health risk

Many compounds of smoke from fires are highly toxic and/or irritating. The most dangerous is carbon monoxide leading to carbon monoxide poisoning, sometimes with the additive effects of hydrogen cyanide and phosgene. Smoke inhalation can therefore quickly lead to incapacitation and loss of consciousness. Sulfur oxides, hydrogen chloride and hydrogen fluoride in contact with moisture form sulfuric, hydrochloric and hydrofluoric acid, which are corrosive to both lungs and materials. When asleep the nose does not sense smoke nor does the brain, but the body will wake up if the lungs become enveloped in smoke and the brain will be stimulated and the person will be awoken. This does not work if the person is incapacitated or under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol.

Cigarette smoke is a major modifiable risk factor for lung disease, heart disease, and many cancers. Smoke can also be a component of ambient air pollution due to the burning of coal in power plants, forest fires or other sources, although the concentration of pollutants in ambient air is typically much less than that in cigarette smoke. One day of exposure to PM2.5 at a concentration of 880 μg/m3, such as occurs in Beijing, China, is the equivalent of smoking one or two cigarettes in terms of particulate inhalation by weight.[19][20] The analysis is complicated, however, by the fact that the organic compounds present in various ambient particulates may have a higher carcinogenicity than the compounds in cigarette smoke particulates.[21] Secondhand tobacco smoke is the combination of both sidestream and mainstream smoke emissions from a burning tobacco product. These emissions contain more than 50 carcinogenic chemicals. According to the Surgeon General's latest report on the subject, "Short exposures to secondhand [tobacco] smoke can cause blood platelets to become stickier, damage the lining of blood vessels, decrease coronary flow velocity reserves, and reduce heart variability, potentially increasing the risk of a heart attack".[22] The American Cancer Society lists "heart disease, lung infections, increased asthma attacks, middle ear infections, and low birth weight" as ramifications of smoker's emission.[23]

Reduced visibility due to wildfire smoke in Sheremetyevo airport (Moscow, Russia) 7 August 2010.

Smoke can obscure visibility, impeding occupant exiting from fire areas. In fact, the poor visibility due to the smoke that was in the Worcester Cold Storage Warehouse fire in Worcester, Massachusetts was the exact reason why the trapped rescue firefighters couldn't evacuate the building in time. Because of the striking similarity that each floor shared, the dense smoke caused the firefighters to become disoriented.[24]

Smoke contains a wide variety of chemicals, many of them aggressive in nature. Examples are hydrochloric acid and hydrobromic acid, produced from halogen-containing plastics and fire retardants, hydrofluoric acid released by pyrolysis of fluorocarbon fire suppression agents, sulfuric acid from burning of sulfur-containing materials, nitric acid from high-temperature fires where nitrous oxide gets formed, phosphoric acid and antimony compounds from P and Sb based fire retardants, and many others. Such corrosion is not significant for structural materials, but delicate structures, especially microelectronics, are strongly affected. Corrosion of circuit board traces, penetration of aggressive chemicals through the casings of parts, and other effects can cause an immediate or gradual deterioration of parameters or even premature (and often delayed, as the corrosion can progress over long time) failure of equipment subjected to smoke. Many smoke components are also electrically conductive; deposition of a conductive layer on the circuits can cause crosstalks and other deteriorations of the operating parameters or even cause short circuits and total failures. Electrical contacts can be affected by corrosion of surfaces, and by deposition of soot and other conductive particles or nonconductive layers on or across the contacts. Deposited particles may adversely affect the performance of optoelectronics by absorbing or scattering the light beams.

Corrosivity of smoke produced by materials is characterized by the corrosion index (CI), defined as material loss rate (angstrom/minute) per amount of material gasified products (grams) per volume of air (m3). It is measured by exposing strips of metal to flow of combustion products in a test tunnel. Polymers containing halogen and hydrogen (polyvinyl chloride, polyolefins with halogenated additives, etc.) have the highest CI as the corrosive acids are formed directly with water produced by the combustion, polymers containing halogen only (e.g. polytetrafluoroethylene) have lower CI as the formation of acid is limited to reactions with airborne humidity, and halogen-free materials (polyolefins, wood) have the lowest CI.[16] However, some halogen-free materials can also release significant amount of corrosive products.[25]

Smoke damage to electronic equipment can be significantly more extensive than the fire itself. Cable fires are of special concern; low smoke zero halogen materials are preferable for cable insulation.

When smoke comes into contact with the surface of any substance or structure, the chemicals contained in it are transferred to it. The corrosive properties of the chemicals cause the substance or structure to decompose at a rapid rate. Certain materials or structures absorb these chemicals, which is why clothing, unsealed surfaces, potable water, piping, wood, etc., are replaced in most cases of structural fires.

As early as the 15th century Leonardo da Vinci commented at length on the difficulty of assessing smoke, and distinguished between black smoke (carbonized particles) and white 'smoke' which is not a smoke at all but merely a suspension of harmless water particulates.[26]

Smoke from heating appliances is commonly measured in one of the following ways:

In-line capture. A smoke sample is simply sucked through a filter which is weighed before and after the test and the mass of smoke found. This is the simplest and probably the most accurate method, but can only be used where the smoke concentration is slight, as the filter can quickly become blocked.[27]

The ASTM smoke pump is a simple and widely used method of in-line capture where a measured volume of smoke is pulled through a filter paper and the dark spot so formed is compared with a standard.

Filter/dilution tunnel. A smoke sample is drawn through a tube where it is diluted with air, the resulting smoke/air mixture is then pulled through a filter and weighed. This is the internationally recognized method of measuring smoke from combustion.[28]

Electrostatic precipitation. The smoke is passed through an array of metal tubes which contain suspended wires. A (huge) electrical potential is applied across the tubes and wires so that the smoke particles become charged and are attracted to the sides of the tubes. This method can over-read by capturing harmless condensates, or under-read due to the insulating effect of the smoke. However, it is the necessary method for assessing volumes of smoke too great to be forced through a filter, i.e., from bituminous coal.

Ringelmann scale. A measure of smoke color. Invented by Professor Maximilian Ringelmann in Paris in 1888, it is essentially a card with squares of black, white and shades of gray which is held up and the comparative grayness of the smoke judged. Highly dependent on light conditions and the skill of the observer it allocates a grayness number from 0 (white) to 5 (black) which has only a passing relationship to the actual quantity of smoke. Nonetheless, the simplicity of the Ringelmann scale means that it has been adopted as a standard in many countries.

Cossar scale. The change of atmospheric smoke particulate concentration resulting from the presence of Barry Cossar. The ratio of smoke to air exiting Barry Cossar is measured and compared against that in the surrounding atmosphere. This dynamic scale ranges from zero to seven; reported measurements typically average very near seven.[citation needed]

Optical scattering. A light beam is passed through the smoke. A light detector is situated at an angle to the light source, typically at 90°, so that it receives only light reflected from passing particles. A measurement is made of the light received which will be higher as the concentration of smoke particles becomes higher.

Optical obscuration. A light beam is passed through the smoke and a detector opposite measures the light. The more smoke particles are present between the two, the less light will be measured.

Combined optical methods. There are various proprietary optical smoke measurement devices such as the 'nephelometer' or the 'aethalometer' which use several different optical methods, including more than one wavelength of light, inside a single instrument and apply an algorithm to give a good estimate of smoke. It has been claimed that these devices can differentiate types of smoke and so their probable source can be inferred, though this is disputed.[29]

Inference from carbon monoxide. Smoke is incompletely burned fuel, carbon monoxide is incompletely burned carbon, therefore it has long been assumed that measurement of CO in flue gas (a cheap, simple and very accurate procedure) will provide a good indication of the levels of smoke. Indeed, several jurisdictions use CO measurement as the basis of smoke control. However it is far from clear how accurate the correspondence is.

Throughout recorded history, humans have used the smoke of medicinal plants to cure illness. A sculpture from Persepolis shows Darius the Great (522–486 BC), the king of Persia, with two censers in front of him for burning Peganum harmala and/or sandalwood Santalum album, which was believed to protect the king from evil and disease. More than 300 plant species in 5 continents are used in smoke form for different diseases. As a method of drug administration, smoking is important as it is a simple, inexpensive, but very effective method of extracting particles containing active agents. More importantly, generating smoke reduces the particle size to a microscopic scale thereby increasing the absorption of its active chemical principles.[30]


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