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After the Fire is Out

You’ve experienced a fire. This is an overwhelming experience. After fire department personnel leave, the building becomes your responsibility or the property owner’s responsibility. Remove all valuables if you cannot live in the house. Should a firefighter or fire investigator be on the scene, they will accompany you. You or the property owner are responsible for securing doors, windows and other areas against unauthorized entry. 


If you are insured 

The first thing to do after the fire is contact your insurance company or agent as soon as possible. You must also contact the owner if you are renting or leasing the property. The insurance adjuster may be able to assist you in making immediate repairs or in securing your home. You may contact a general contractor or a fire damage restoration firm if you are unable to contact your agent and need professional assistance in boarding up your home (Refer to your telephone book yellow pages, under Contractors-General or Fire & Water Damage Restoration). 


If you are not insured 

Contact your family lawyer or the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for directions if your property is not insured or if your insurance will not cover all your losses. You may be eligible for casualty loss (check Publications 547, Tax Information on Disasters, Casualty Losses and Thefts which is available from your local IRS Office). 


The American Red Cross is available to assist families who have been displaced from their homes through any type of disaster if you are not insured and need assistance. The Red Cross is available around the clock, every day of the year, with food, clothing and housing. 


Fire Report

To obtain a copy of a fire report, contact the Fire Prevention Bureau of the Tacoma Fire Department at (253) 591-5740 or online at public records request


For more information on Fire Investigations or to speak with an investigator please call (253) 591-5740. 


Code Compliance 

We work internally to make the process of as easy as possible for victims of fire. The City’s Code Compliance team works with Tacoma Fire Department when a fire happens to ensure that buildings are inspected after a fire. 


We do the following: 

  • Review the fire report to assess if the severity of the fire meets the threshold to open a code compliance case. If yes, we open a case and an inspection is conducted, typically the same day or next day.  

  • Receive information from the Public Utilities regarding any service shutoffs. 

  • During the inspection, a code compliance officer will inspect the building from the exterior to assess damage. Code compliance officers are not allowed to enter a building without permission. 

  • If the code compliance officer finds a code violation, they will begin the proper process for working with the property owner to correct the issue. 

During this process tenants may not be informed of the findings, and should contact 311 with questions about concerns or safety. 


If you are a tenant and a fire has made your home uninhabitable, you may be entitled to protections under the law once code compliance has declared the building or unit uninhabitable. If you are at fault for the fire, you may not be eligible for protections under the Rental Housing Code. 


If you are a renter, your protections may include: 

  • Release from your lease. 

  • Relocation assistance. 

For more information about the City's Landlord-Tenant Program, contact us at (253) 591-5000 or email celder@cityoftacoma.org.


Permitting Repairs or Demolition/Rebuild 

We can assist you in the permitting process to repair and/or rebuild your structure.  To help make the process clear, and possibly expedite the permitting process, please visit TacomaPermits.org to find the following information: 


For Single Family Dwellings and Duplex Units, on our website, follow the steps below to access the checklists for:  

  • New construction – “Submittal Checklists” > “Residential” > “Combination Permit Submittal Checklist” 

  • Remodels and additions -  “Submittal Checklists” > “Residential” > “Remodels and Additions" 


For Commercial Properties and Multi-Family Dwelling Unit, on our website, follow the steps below to access the checklists for:  

  • New construction – “Submittal Checklists” > “Commercial” > “New Building” 

  • Remodels (Repairs) and additions -  “Submittal Checklists” > “Commercial” > “Alteration/Addition” 


If you have any further questions, please contact us at permits@cityoftacoma.org or call us at 253-591-5030, Option 3 and then Option 5, with permitting and application questions.  


Vehicle Fires 

If Insured

Contact your insurance agent for explanation of your coverage and for assistance with your claim. Contact both your home insurance and vehicle insurance agents if your vehicle is damaged in a structure fire. 

If Uninsured 

A list of repair facilities can be obtained in the yellow pages of your phone directory, under Auto Body Repair & Paint. If towing is required, refer to the yellow pages of your phone directory, under Towing. If the vehicle is a total loss it may have some value to a salvage yard. A list of vehicle salvage companies can be obtained in the yellow pages of your phone directory under Auto Wreckers & Used Parts. 

Fire department procedures

Occasionally, fire crews will have to force entry into the vehicle to check for fire extension and extinguish the fire. To ensure that the fire is completely extinguished, it may be necessary for fire crews to: 

  • Cut and/or disconnect battery cables to prevent electrical shorting of wires where wire insulation has been damaged. 

  • Remove padding from seats, especially where cotton padding is used. 

  • Force entry into the passenger compartment, engine compartment, and trunk of vehicle to extinguish, check for extension and gain access to battery cables. 

Code Compliance 

If your vehicle ignited on someone else’s property, you will need to work with the property owner to have your vehicle removed.