Before entering your home, check with the Fire Officer in charge of the scene and/or the police, to ensure it is safe to do so.

Priority items to retrieve

  • identification
  • credit cards
  • legal documents
  • medications
  • glasses, hearing aids or personal aids
  • personal items such as jewellery, photo albums, videos
  • insurance information
  • wallets and other valuables
  • car keys.

Note: You may need to contact your insurance company before removing any items.

Protect your home from weather, theft or vandalism

If you're the owner:

  • lock and secure all entry points – Fire and Rescue NSW will be able to help you with this, and
  • ensure that the utility services have been disconnected – Fire and Rescue NSW will assess if this is required, and will organise disconnection before they leave the site.

If you're a tenant:

  • contact your real estate agent or landlord as soon as possible, and
  • if you're a Department of Housing tenant, call the 24/7 help line on 1800 422 322

If you have to leave your home because the fire has left it unsafe:

  • contact the local police to let them know that the property will be left vacant, and
  • check with your insurance company to see if they'll advance you money for essentials and accommodation.

Insurance claims

In all instances, call your insurance company, agent or broker as soon as possible, to:

  • find out what actions you need to take and information you need to provide
  • discuss repairs and cleaning, as most insurers have a range of specialists they can call on, and 
  • advise them of a forwarding address and/or phone number if applicable.

It's not uncommon for insurance companies to investigate a claim, so:

  • make a note of any events leading up to the fire, and be prepared to answer questions
  • make an inventory of household items both inside and outside the building that have been damaged by the fire
  • don't throw away any damaged goods in case they need to be assessed, and 
  • keep all receipts for money spent relating to the fire.

Note: If you can't remember the name of your insurance company, contact the Insurance Council of Australia.

General advice

A house fire is one of the most traumatic and devastating events a family can experience. After a crisis it is often easier to talk to someone who is not involved and is trained to listen. Fire and Rescue NSW has the services of a full-time Salvation Army Chaplain, who can help you find emergency accommodation and provide counselling if you need it.  The service is free, and available 24/7 on 9265 2736

Apart from family and friends, it's also important to contact:

  • your bank or mortgage company (if applicable)
  • your employer
  • your child's/children's school
  • the post office (to hold or forward your mail)
  • your electricity and gas supplier(s)
  • any delivery services
  • your local council.

Related information

Last updated: 24 November 2022