trying to salvage a structure after a fire, assess the true
worth of what remains after fire, heat, smoke and water damage.
The true worth will be higher if the structure can be effectively
used as part of a reconstructed facility. An engineer or experienced
contractor can help you assess true worth. These experts can
also help you consider options for reconstruction or new construction.
Insurance coverage and other assets will probably be the final
factor in your decision-making.
and blown-in insulation. If insulation has gotten wet,
it will have to be removed and replaced with dry materials.
If wall surfaces must be replaced in the process, consider
upgrading wiring and plumbing at this time.
When exposed to intense heat, steel loses its strength
and any surface-applied corrosion protection. Steel beams
cannot be relied upon to support loads for which they were
originally designed. Replace these members if exposed to
extreme heat to assure structural integrity of the building.
roofing and siding. Both rely on protective layers of
galvanizing and/or paint to protect corrosion. Plan to replace
these materials if exposed to heat, even if they were not
in direct contact with flames.
Light charring of wood will not significantly affect
its strength. Replace wooden supports which have been deeply
truss plates. Many roof trusses are fabricated with
metal truss plates. The metal truss plates may lose more
strength in a fire than the adjoining wood supports. Use
a reliable contractor or engineer to determine the extent
of damage at these critical joints.
and mortar. These materials will flake off and/or turn
to powder when exposed to heat. The thickness of the damaged
concrete will be determined by the intensity and duration
of heat exposure. Tap concrete with a hammer to test its
integrity. A dull thud implies heat damage. A ringing sound
means the concrete may be in reasonable condition.
the value of the remaining structure is established, assess
how the remnants can be rebuilt to meet your current and future
needs. This is a good opportunity to consider updating or
upgrading of facilities. For example:
buildings. Consider livestock resting, water and feeding
space needs; update ventilation, preferably using natural
ventilation; install moisture-proof wiring and an equipotential
plane to protect against stray voltage; install freeze-protected
water systems; consider animal traffic and manure handling.
facilities. Consider a milking parlor or flat barn milking
system; upgrade wiring and equipotential plane; improve
lighting and ventilation; upgrade milking equipment and
energy-conserving devices, such as air injectors, bulk tank
heat exchangers and well-water precoolers.
Consider horizontal feed storage for its improved rate
of filling and emptying and lower cost of construction and
operation; size new silos according to daily feeding needs.
sheds. Consider access doors; consider a shop; use proper
wiring design and installation; consider size of items to
be stored; consider separate pesticide storage.
remnants cannot be economically reworked to satisfy your needs,
consider building a totally new structure. Be especially critical
of the remnants when making this assessment. Consider:
Locate animal structures so odors blow away from the
house and neighbors' houses; locate to take advantage of
wind for natural ventilation in livestock buildings; consider
space needs for future structures.
Locate on high ground to shed water from the site and
to avoid flooding from upland areas.
patterns. Consider how equipment, animals, feed, grain
and manure will be routed around the farm.
size of structure and future expansion needs. Develop
a farmstead drawing of how your farmstead will look in 10
to 20 years.
Before deciding on a final option, consider the economics
of several options. Make your decisions based on lower annual
cost options - not the lowest initial investment; consider
your long-term needs when making a short-term decision.
all new construction features fire-retardant material and
design concepts that result in fire safety. Early warning
devices such as smoke detectors and heat detectors should
be part of new designs, as well as ventilation systems that
shut down during a fire.
Your county agricultural agent, Midwest Plan Service
UW-Extension publications- "Contracting for Agricultural Construction," (A3490); "Farmstead Planning-Zoning and Regulations Checklist," (A2725). Northeast Regional Agricultural Engineering Service publication,"Fire Control in Livestock Buildings."
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