Open Mic Show – John Lapotaire, Don Weekes, Ken Larsen, Pete Consigli & Ed Light

Air Date: 1-24-2020|Episode 571

This week on IAQ Radio+ we welcome The Restoration Industry Global Watchdog, Pete Consigli, Ed Light, John Lapotaire, Don Weekes and Ken Larsen for an Open Mic discussion of current events. Some topics we will explore include hurricane recovery and lessons learned, testing and cleaning up after wildfires, new mold documents and the association conference season.


Global Watchdog Recap of Key Talking Points and Resource Information

First Topic:  Hurricane recovery status and lessons learned

Ken Larsen:

  • Panama City Beach is still under repair. Much improvement in the last 15 months – yet there are still homes that have not had ANY WORK done in them yet.
    • Some houses are now moldy due to delayed claim processing / denials.
    • Some people are selling their unrepaired houses for pennies on the dollar.
    • Some people are just abandoning their property and starting over elsewhere. Give house to bank.
    • Therapists are scrambling to help citizens for the trauma
  • Lessons:
    • The greatest lesson I’ve observed is how the “splash and dash” companies are simply producing massively inflated invoices and agreeing to massively reduced invoices – resulting in:
      • Diminished industry reputation and trust
      • Substandard restoration products

In contrast, the industry’s restoration leaders are surrounding themselves with top end experts on the job:

  • PA’s
  • Attorneys
  • IEPs and Hygienists
  • Engineers
  • SMEs
  • Documenters

John Lapotaire:

Large homes can have deductibles reaching a million dollars.

The marketplace is made up of two types of contractors. Longstanding reputable ones with roots in the community who are willing to work with the property owner and other stakeholders to restore the property.

The other is the “Cowboy & Carpetbagger” type with a mentality that tends to exaggerate the claims and pit the property owner against their insurance company.

The first type will work with IEP’s and other experts and consultants as required in the best interest of the project and the “customer”.

The “other guys” tend to work in “cahoots” with like-minded consultants and others to inflate the cost of a claim and enrich themselves at the expense of the homeowner and their insurer.

Pete Consigli weighed in:

Mold assessors and remediators are required to be licensed in Florida as well as Texas and Louisiana; other states require some form of licensure.

Florida contractor laws are being enforced!

Ken Larsen commented that there have been unlicensed contractors who have been fined, charged and jailed!

John Lapotaire dovetailed by saying. The state has done a good job of policing unlicensed contractor activity and he gets a lot of calls after a storm event from out of state contractors inquiring how they can be in compliance.

General consensus:  Follow the law or collaborate with a licensed Florida contractor if from out of the area and work under their license!

Second Topic:  Fire & Smoke Assessments, Restoration and Wild Fires

Ed Light:

Ed has a logical approach for working with restoration contractors as an environmental consultant that is ground in common sense and using long held methods rooted in the late Martin “Marty” King’s philosophy.

AIHA has guidance for IH’s engaged in this work, but generally speaking they don’t have the experience as they tend to apply mold identification and assessment protocols which don’t always transfer successfully for smoke.

Ed would rather let the experienced restorer take the lead and serve in an advisory role from a scientific perspective. There is no good exposure or mitigation research on smoke residue after a fire and sampling has a very limited role in smoke assessments in Ed’s opinion.

Ed is working as a scientific adviser for the IICRC/RIA Fire Standard development process.

In Ed’s opinion, the best assessment tools for smoke residue are your eyes and nose. With these, he systematically implements the basic techniques traditionally used by good restores, such as visual interpretation of surface wipes and classification of detectable odors.

Ed’s view of the role of third-party participation in fire restoration is identical to his approach to water damage, as cited by his paper in Cleaning and Restoration magazine (May, 2014).

A good IH can help the restorer fine tune the scope of work and supply effective post remedial verification.  Restorers restore and IH’s verify! In addition, involvement of a knowledgeable IH in the process who takes responsibility for specifications and verification can relieve the contractor of substantial liability.

Donald Weekes:

Don weighed-in- and made the point that with fire restoration the key difference between a single-home fire and wild fires is regarding air quality.

Don suggested that Ed’s approach works for basic restoration of interior smoke damage, and thinks that most IAQ practitioners follow that approach with a minimum amount of sampling. Don’s experience involves assessing community impacts of general exposure to wildfire smoke.

For wild fires in Australia, Canada and the west coast of the USA, there is a different approach that needs to be taken by homeowners, firefighters and restoration firms which is likely to involve air quality sampling for PM10 and PM2.5.

These particulate contaminants are prevalent during wildfires, and they can adversely affect people in an area-wide wild fire.

Helpful links from the Health Canada website:

Health Canada approach to wild fires:

Ken Larsen & Pete Consigli:

Ken feels sealers are being misused after fires and are not the cure all for smoke elimination and should be used as a last resort, not first option!

Pete made the point that sealers role in fire and smoke restoration is more applicable to prevent “bleed” through and staining after painting and restoration.

Cleaning, source removal and good air exchange and ventilation is a good first step in most fire and smoke restoration projects.  Skipping that process can lead to post restoration problems from residual odor and other issues affecting the homeowners’ willingness to accept the restorative process.

The Round-Up:

Ken:  Suggested that IEP’s be used on fire and water claims. He opined for restorers to support RIA’s AGA and gave a brief update suggesting interested parties visited the landing pages on the RIA website:

Don:  The 2nd edition of the Green Book (Recognition, Evaluation and Control of Indoor Mold) is now available as a hard cover book or a PDF from the AIHA on line bookstore.

Next week on IAQ Radio:  ACGIH’s Executive Director, Frank Mortl, will be the guest. He will discuss the TLV’s, the Bio aerosols book, and other related topics.

Radio Joe:  Gave a plug for IAQradio’s sponsors, IAQA, AEML and RIA all of whom have conferences coming up in the next few months.

Links to check out the details:

IAQA Conference:

AEML Winter Break:

RIA Convention:

RIA Australasian Conference:

Ed:  Previewed the “Sandstone Haze”, an original song by his late friend, Marc Plummer, from the viewpoint of a worker digging Hawk’s Nest Tunnel dying of silicosis, which has now become a major OSHA concern.

Pete:  Put in a plug for IAQradio sponsor CIRI for a June 2021 co-located conference in Hawaii with ISIAQ.

Cliff Zlotnik:  Although the Z-man couldn’t make the show live, he reviewed the blog and has weighed-in with a few comments…

  • Mold and fire related residue /particulate are different animals.
  • Knowledgeable and experienced fire restorers don’t need IEPs who are unknowledgeable and inexperienced in fire restoration telling them how to do their job!
  • Fire restorers provide an important public service that is often undervalued and underappreciated.

Global Watchdog “sitting-in” for

The Z-man for this week’s blog…signing off!