After a Fire

Once you get over the initial shock of a fire, coping with the aftermath can be physically and mentally draining. If the entire structure burned, you may find yourself literally reconstructing your life from scratch. Otherwise, your recovery will be less painful but still an ordeal. The following information will give you some direction on where to start and where to find help.

Immediate Assistance

Contact a local disaster relief service, such as the American Red Cross, at 904-358-8091, or 1-888-843-5748 for those outside the 904 area code, to get help with immediate needs such as temporary housing, food, medicine, clothing and other essentials. Do not use e-mail in an emergency. Use the phone. The Salvation Army, at 904-356-8641, also provides similar disaster assistance.

Secure the Property

To prevent looting or further loss, arrange to have the property secured immediately. Most insurance policies require it. If possible, do not remove items before an insurance adjuster arrives.


Contact your insurance company as soon as possible. Many policies provide funds for emergency lodging and living expenses until you are able to move back into your home. Keep all receipts. If you are a tenant, contact the owner or the owner's insurance agent. The owner is responsible for preventing further loss to the property, but the owner's insurance, in most cases, will not cover the cost of a tenant's personnal belongings.

Replacing Documents After a Fire

Important documents and identification cards may be destroyed or damaged in a fire or hurricane and should be kept in a safe place, preferably one that is fireproof. If damaged or destroyed, however, these documents may be replaced. Because of the danger of identity theft, it is crucial to report lost or destroyed documents quickly.

The chart below contains contact information and shows where to find replacement documents.


Item Where to get a replacement
Driver's Licenses Department of Motor Vehicles or or
Birth Certificates State Office of Vital Statistics or, if outside Florida
Credit Cards The issuing companies, as soon as possible
Bank books, checking, savings, etc. Your bank, as soon as possible
Social Security Cards Local Social Security office
Insurance Policies Your insurance agent
Passports U.S. Department of State
Marriage, Divorce Papers State Office of Vital Statistics or, if outside Florida
Death Certificates State Office of Vital Statistics or, if in another state
Citizenship Papers U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service
Payment Books Your bank or lending institution
Income Tax Records Internal Revenue Service
Mortgage Papers, property deeds

Your lending institution or Clerk of the Courts, or

Title to Deeds Your lending institution, Clerk of the Courts, or
Stocks and Bonds Your broker or the issuing company
Automobile Registration, Title

Department of Motor Vehicles office or

Medical Records Your doctor or dentist
Burial Contracts Local cemetery where the burial plot is located
Wills Your attorney
Papers for Animals Humane Society or your veterinarian
Medicare Card

Local Social Security Administration office
1-800-772-1213 or

Medicaid Card

Agency for Health Care Administration

Warranties Issuing company