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Disaster recovery and restoration can be veiled in mystery to the many who have not undertaken specific training. This glossary explains technical terms to assist both report writing and the understanding of those technical terms so often misunderstood.


The Disaster Advice Glossary and its contents are the protected copyright of Disaster Advice

Fabric Filters and Bags

Filters and filter bags made of Teflon Nylon cotton or glass fiber which are used to remove particulate matter. The accumulation of material collected can be periodically disposed shaken off and then the bags are washed for reuse. Other common filters such as cardboard frame filters are disposed.


Face Velocity

The velocity of air. Face velocity is obtained by dividing the air quantity by the component material face area.



Any type of physical building interior space structure installation equipment pipe duct container or vehicle which is used to store hazardous materials or the facility contains a hazardous chemical pollutant product or agent. Any building structure installation equipment pipe or pipeline including any pipe into a sewer or publicly owned treatment works well pit pond lagoon impoundment ditch storage container motor vehicle rolling stock or aircraft. c The description of a property containing a contaminate where a release has occurred or a building that has experienced a loss. d Any site or area where a hazardous substance has been deposited stored disposed of placed or otherwise come to be located but does not include any consumer product in consumer use or any water-borne vessel.


Failure Analysis

A means of determining why a particular part or product failure occurred. Failure analysis is completed in a controlled laboratory environment where the failure can be replicated.



The ability of an airborne substance having matter to settle and fallout of the air. Mitigation Note Pertaining to water damage it is the accumulation of settled dust and debris found on contents from air movers and dryers. The fallout is not apparent until after the forced air movement has stopped. Particles dust spores pollens and other contaminates will settle on surfaces. Air movers are used to dry wet-saturated carpet and building materials. Often these materials harbor pounds of dust and dirt contaminates that become airborne and fallout on surfaces.


False Negative

Erroneous test results that infer a room or building does not have contaminates or they are not in the levels anticipated. A building reportedly having no chemical or indoor air contaminate concerns when in fact it actually does have chemical and indoor air quality concerns. Health Note False negative results cannot take into consideration certain lower detection levels which some persons may sense and identify where scientific equipment cannot.


False Positive

Erroneous test results that infer a room environment or building does have contaminates higher than anticipated. Liability Note A building that has been reportedly diagnosed as having poor indoor air quality when in fact it does not have poor indoor air quality.


Fan Centrifugal Type

A fan rotor or wheel within a scroll cage housing including driving mechanism supports for either a belt drive or a direct connection.


Fan Performance Curve

Fan performance curve refers to the constant speed performance curve. The fan performance curve is a graphical presentation of the static or total pressure and power input over a range of air volume flow rate at a stated inlet density and fan speed. The fan performance curve may include static and mechanical efficiency curves. The range of air volume flow rate which is covered generally extends from shutoff zero air volume flow rate to free delivery zero fan static pressure. The pressure curves are generally referred to as the pressure-volume curves.


Fan Static Pressure

The pressure added to the ventilation system by the fan. The fan static pressure equals the sum of pressure losses in the system minus the velocity pressure in the air at the fan inlet.


Fan Tubeaxial Type

A propeller or disc type wheel within a cylinder and including driving mechanism supports for either a belt drive or a direct connection.


Fan Vanaxial Type

A disc type wheel within a cylinder a set of air guide vanes located either before or after the wheel and including driving mechanism supports for either a belt drive or a direct connection.


Feasibilty Study

A detailed technical economic and/or legal review of a known or suspect building or contaminated area. It is implemented to access and outline all potential costs benefits and problems.


Feature Strip

A molding or base material that is used to separate two other materials. In parquet floors a wood feature strip is used to separate parquet blocks or patterns from the perimeter of walls as well as to end the parquet floor pattern. Feature strips as wood or metal molding or boarder wallpaper are sometimes used to cover up a damage after repair such as removal and replacement of the lower portion of a wall where the rest of the wall is to be kept intact. The feature strip then becomes an accent and compliments the wall finish and decor.


Fecal Coliforms

A type of bacteria whose natural habitat is the colon of humans and other warm blooded animals. Specifically they are Gram-negative rod shape bacteria that can survive with or without oxygen. Education and Health Note The presence of coliforms in food beverages and water mean that the material is contaminated with solid human or animal waste that can result in disease. All coliform bacteria must be removed from a building after sewage contamination as part of the successful cleanup of the sewage exposure.


Federal Emergency Management Agency FEM

The federal agency responsible for administrating disaster management and relief across the United States and its territories. The Agency was created in 1978 to provide a single-point of accountability for all federal activities related to disaster mitigation and emergency preparedness response and recovery. FEMA administers and manages the National Flood Insurance Program NFIP. To contact or research FEMA/NFIP database their e-mail address is www.fema.gov/nfip/. The general information phone number is 800/427-4661 and to ask a question fax is 301/918-1471. To download fax information from FEMA database call 202/646-FEMA.


Federal Insurance Administration

The component within FEMA that is directly responsible for administering the flood insurance aspects of the National Flood Insurance Program.


Federal Register

The publication of U.S. Government documents officially promulgated under the law which the documents whose validity depends upon such publication. The Federal Register is published on each day following a government working day. It is in effect the daily supplement to the Code of Federal Regulations CFR. See Code of Federal Regulations


Field Blank

A sample container carried to and from the sample collection site. It is not used in the sampling collection but it is returned back to the laboratory for analysis with the exposed collection samples.


Field Notes

Hand or computer generated notes about a particular job or claim that may be incorporated in to a larger document or placed in a file as-is.



A product made to remove contaminate materials from one another. In outside exposed air conditioning units filters are produced from fibres mesh and a frame. In inside mounted filters the media includes various composite and compressed materials having varying thickness and density. See Baghouse HEPA Filters Pleated Filter



The ability of certain filter media to stop particles gases and vapours having a larger mass and size from entering another air space. Filtering allows the passage of smaller particles while retaining larger particles. See Baghouse HEPA Filters


Filtering Efficiency

A standard of various filters performance and efficiency. The efficiency of various filters can be established on the basis of entrapped particles i.e. collection efficiency or on the basis of particles passed through the filter i.e. penetration efficiency. Filter efficiencies are governed by ASTM ASHRAE.


Filtering Velocity

The speed at which air and particles move through various filters. The more dense the filter the better the particle capturing. But more dense filters having particle collection reduces filtering velocity.



A filtering means by which water or air is filtered. Education Note Air filtration in a building are filter capturing devises pleated filters for example located in the supply air stream before the filtered conditioned air is allowed to enter in the ambient building atmosphere.


Filtration Soil

The soil that appears beneath drapes upholstery and carpets along a wall or a stair case. Education Note The carpet becomes a filtration devise where air is allowed to pass and filter over time. Filtration soil at the edge of carpets or under drapes will cause discoloration and the effect may be permanent even after corrective cleaning. The soil which is found trapped on a filtration media in a ventilation system.



Very small and minute-size airborne particles usually solid particles less than 2 microns in size. Often fines of dust and particulate debris are distributed by dirty ventilation systems and airmovers after a flood. Mitigation Note Fines can also be described in catastrophic building floods where micro-fine fines are actually micro-fine silt that become adsorbed and a permanent part of porous building materials. See Grit Mud and Muck


Fingernail Fungus

A fungal condition caused by the fungi Tineus unguium resulting from dirt and other debris with fungus to embed under the finger nail. Health Note The fungi condition may be dormant for some time and under the right conditions fungus will start growing causing severe pain and eventual loss of the nail. If not properly treated this condition will never go away on its own. Health Note Various species of Tinea fungus may be present in remediation employees who handle fungi contaminated building materials and gray water when they do not wear the proper gloves or provide for personal hygiene proper methods of hand washing. See Athletes Foot Ringworm Tinea


Fire and Water Damages

Once combustion occurs the standard fire department extinguishing method is the use of water and lots of it. Education Note A hot fire can result in the extinguishing water to expand 800 to 1500 times its size forcing the extinguishing water to penetrate into walls and furniture while humidifying the air space. After the primary combustion with heat has been eliminated but before the fire is out the extinguishing water will change from a high temperature vapor state in the presence of cooler temperatures return back to a liquid and become part of the flood water throughout a building. When the fire is out for the most part the fire stops being a damaging concern. The water and resulting fungi if not abated in a short period of time will result in secondary damage.


Fire Toxics

A burning building has wood plastics other synthetics asbestos to lead-base paint not including stored chemicals under a sink or in a garage which together produce a soup of toxic materials. No employee should be allowed to inhale soot and toxins that contain carcinogens. A HEPA-rated respirator during the tear out and cleanup phase must be worn by all employees. Right after combustion in a fire damaged building more than 1000 identified substances can be present in air at any one time. Weeks later disturbing fire debris will cause some of the toxins as carcinogens to become airborne.



Structural and non-structural affixed components to a building such as plumbing and light fixtures cabinets and vanities windows and moldings.


Flammable Gas Vapour or Mist

Any atmosphere that contains flammable gas vapor or mist in excess of 10 percent of its lower flammable limit LFL that atmosphere is not acceptable for entry. Safety Note LFL means the minimum concentration of a flammable materials which will ignite if an ignition source is present. This information can be found in the MSDS of a chemical. See Toxic Air Contaminates Asphyxiating Atmospheres


Flammable Liquid

Under USDOT regulations any liquid having a flash point less than 100 %uF045F.



Referring to a painted surface flashing is the uneven gloss on the wall particularly when viewed at a low angle. Education Note High and low sheen spots flashing can be observed as small or large discolored areas on a flat wall surface. Flashing is sometimes caused by the premature painting over a wall that has not fully dried after a water damage or a wall that has differences in its substrate absorbency.


Flood Insurance Rate Map FIRM

The map produced by FEMA for a community that distinguishes flood hazard zones including the 100-year floodplain.



Methods incorporated in design materials and construction to reduce flooding and errosion damage to the building and its contents.


Floor Scrubber

A cleaning and scrubbing machine that is usually powered by A/C and has 300 RPM. The floor scrubber is a single disk pad cleaning machine and depending on the pad it becomes a cleaning scrubbing or stripping machine. Education Note In a sewage clean-up situation after gross sewage has been removed and cleaning and sanitizing is the final step a floor scrubber is highly desirable in cleaning and sanitizing finished floors to porous concrete slabs. See Automatic Floor Scrubber High-speed Buffer



The topographic overview layout of one or more floors of a building. Education Note The floorplan consists of the outer walls and interior walls while showing all built-in counters and shelves tubs and toilets. Most floor-plans are drawn to size and they indicate their position as to north and south east and west directions. If a floorplan is attached to an adjacent unit apartment office or condominium the floor-plan should indicate the presence of all common wall connections. Technician Note If the floorplan is a sketch and it is not to size the outside dimensions should be noted along with all inside wall dimensions. If the damage to a room or building is partially damaged the floor-plan should have broken lines indicating the areas of damage from non-areas of damage. Make several photocopies of a skeletal floor plan and place the names of all damaged building materials on one floorplan pointing to the damage and on another skeletal floor-plan name each room involved and the connecting rooms and hallways. On a third skeletal floor-plan indicate where all of the services were provided and on what dates were they completed. If wall drying and dehumidification was necessary note your moisture measurements and the position of all drying equipment on another floor-plan copy.


Flow Coefficient

A correction factor used for figuring volume flow rate of a fluid through an orifice. This factor includes the effects of contraction and turbulence loss covered by the coefficient of discharge plus the compressibility effect and the effect of an upstream velocity other than zero. Since the latter two effects are negligible in many instances the flow coefficient is often equal to the coefficient of discharge.



A gas vapour or liquid. A fluid is not a solid but airborne and bioaerosol particulates are lighter than air and they can travel airborne having the ability to flow in air.



The process which a contaminate is suspended in a liquid and removed The process of removing a liquid or dry material through vacuuming The process of cleaning washing and emptying.


Flushing and Purging of Air

In a confined space including in large buildings having an airborne contaminate flushing and purging is the utilization of fans and other exhaust equipment to remove airborne and volatile agents from surfaces into outside air. Health and Safety Note If the contaminates are a regulated contaminate a carcinogen flammable pathogen or toxic the flushing and purging of airborne contaminates must be done so safely and in such a manner to not cause harm to human health downstream of the exhausted air. See Ventilating



In indoor environmental quality flush-out is the process by which indoor air is exchanged repeatedly and over time with fresh outdoor air. Education Note Depending on the purpose and design flush-out may include purging the HVAC system and providing maximum outdoor air intake continuously for several days. Flush-out sometimes is necessary when new furniture carpet paint and other adhesive related products are brought into a building having a tight indoor air configuration. See Bake-Out


Flywheel Effect

In HVAC systems the regulation of the speed and the uniformity of the motion of air evening out temperature variations in a building due to the temperature storage capabilities of the building temperature and air mass.



See Wet Fogger



Any object that functions to transfer infection contaminated by pathogens from a diseased source. Health Note For example sewage bacteria which can easily pass pathogens to unsuspecting objects such as phones kitchenware books bed linen children toys and other items when they are handled in a contaminated environment. Fomites are transferred to humans through hand and physical contact. See Cross-Contamination


Foot Protection

Shoes and boots having appropriate protection for the job. This may include waterproof or rubberized boots footwear that allows for puncture protection and crushing non-conductive and non-slip. 29 CFR 1910.136



A foundation base-part of a building usually underground in which other building materials such as foundation walls and floors are placed upon and are supported. The enlarged base of a building foundation wall pier or column designed to spread the load of the structure so that it does not exceed the soil-bearing capacity.


Forced Oxidation

A process that allows some pollutants to be exhausted or discharged and forced into contact with air which converts some pollutants to a stable form.


Forensic Analysis

A means by which investigators use in determining causation of a particular damage. Forensic analysis include the characteristics of a particular event which may be used in a court of law or formal argument. See Failure Analysis Forensic Investigation


Forensic Investigation

A physical and sometimes scientific investigation as to the cause and result of a particular event. Contractor Note Building forensic investigations are conducted to determine if there is a construction defect or the cause surrounding a particular building defect. Forensic investigations are necessary in insurance claims where a damage occurred because of a fire or water damage requiring disclosure about causation. c Forensic investigations are sometimes necessary in determining the responsible party where subrogation will be considered.



A registered name for a laminated plastic veneer material commonly found on cabinets such as kitchen counters and other flat surfaces.


Foul Odour

An odour which is perceived as being rotten and disgusting. The odour stinks and it may be putrid or pungent. A foul odour suggests the environment is extremely filthy dirty or is impure.


Fouling Damage

A painting condition that is a result of penetration or peeling by water action or marine fouling organisms.



That part of a structure which supports the load of the building as well as the foundation transmits all of the load of the building to the supporting ground.


FPM Feet per Minute

A measure of air velocity in FPM/fpm feet per minute.



A designed and engineered system of wood concrete and steel providing support and rigidity of the building framework.


Free Area

The actual measured perpendicular area between the fins of a grill or register. The area in a contaminated zone or deposition that does not have or supports contamination.


Free Liquids

Flowing liquids such as migrating flood water and sewage in and under buildings that have not been controlled stopped or abated.


Free Moisture

Water in the form of water vapour in air that can pass freely from one atmosphere to another or from a wet material to another via air pathways. Restorative Drying Note With a change in temperature free moisture in air can collect and condensate on and in wall cavities and with another change of temperature condensate water is allowed to become free moisture once again.


Free Radicles

Unstable atoms or molecules that are highly reactive and are short-lived. For example the use of ozone generators for odor control that produce free radicle 03 molecules for the purpose of changing or altering other molecules.


Free Water

Education Note 1 In flooded buildings it is the standing water that is easiest to remove. 2 In some wood and the cut of the wood free water is moisture held in the lignin cells of the wood which will easily evaporate. Bound water in wood is opposite of free water. See Bound Water


Free-Living Organisms

The ability of bacteria yeasts fungi viruses and parasites to live freely in a host environment such as a sewage contaminated building.



A freezing method along with vacuum pressure which controls and allows humidity and moisture to be extracted from a content or a material such as wet books and papers.



The number of vibrations waves or cycles of any periodic phenomenon per second. In architectural acoustics the interest lies in the audible frequency range of 20 to 20000 cps Hertz cycles per second. See Decibel


Frequency Spectrum

Usually a visual representation of a complex sound or noise which has been resolved into frequency components. The detailed nature of a complex sound may be studied by obtaining its frequency spectrum. Frequency spectra are commonly obtained in octave bands 1/3 octave bands and various narrow bands.


Fretting Corrosion

A paint condition brought about between the interface of two contacting surfaces such as paint and metal that is accelerated by the relative motion between them resulting in a loss of surface tension producing slippage.



In HVAC systems the resistance found at the duct and piping walls. Resistance creates a static pressure loss in systems. The primary purpose of a fan or pump is to produce a design volume of fluid at a pressure equal to the frictional resistance of the system and the other dynamic pressure losses of the components.



Ice crystal deposits formed by sublimation when the temperature and dew point are below freezing. See Sublimation


FRP Fibreglass Wall Covering

Fiberglass wall coverings which are water and moisture proof and are industry referred to by the acronym - FRP. FRP is identified as a wall covering in office hotel and commercial bathrooms. FRP is found in commercial kitchens and in laboratories and FRP can be a wall finish anywhere where water can splash or where dirt can become a maintenance issue such as in pre-schools and hospitals. Education Note In water damage claims FRP is a problem because it is glued to drywall and other wall materials which become wet. Quite often after a flood mold will be found on the drywall paper and behind the FRP. In most situations where water migrates behind the FRP and drywall an air hole can be cut through the FRP and drywall at the base allowing for appropriate wall drying. If the FRP is impeding the wall drying process or it is known or suspect of supporting mold growth the FRP most often will be removed and replaced after the restorative drying or mould remediation problem is mitigated.


Fuel Sources

In water damaged buildings the ability of organisms to have protein as a fuel source to survive by. In a fire damage it is the oxygen enriched atmosphere and carbon based materials that are used to supply heat to a fire.


Fugitive Building Emissions

Fumes vapours gases and chemical toxins that emanate from the exhaust of a building as a normal condition of the buildings function. Most emissions are power generated exhaust emissions but emissions can also be other pollutants and airborne contaminates exuded from a building. See Emissions


Full-Body Covering Dural Fungal Abatement

The wearing of the most appropriate disposable coveralls or protective suit neck ear and head covering eye protection gloves and boots along with respiratory protection.


Full-scale Containment and Correction

In fungal contamination full-scale containment and correction are the appropriate steps necessary including those commensurate with fungi contaminated building materials having mass-amounts of visible fungi or from testing and laboratory analysis which indicates that a particular fungi is present and is known to release dangerous toxins. In these situations full-scale containment and correction must include asbestos abatement techniques for the containment and removal of fungi contaminated building materials. Ref Morey 1994 Weber and Martinez 1996 ACGIH Bioaerosol - Assessment and Control 1999. See Containment-Unit Cleaning and Decontamination Critical Barrier during Fungi Abatement Decontamination Unit during Fungi Abatement Full-body Covering during Fungi Abatement Full-scale Fungal Decontamination Unit Negative Air Pressure during Fungi Abatement Occupational Exposures during Fungal Remediation Perimeter Area Cleaning from Fungal Contamination Visible Fungi Contamination


Full-scale Fungal Decontamination Unit

A decontamination unit made from PVC pipe and plastic sheeting wood frame and plastic sheeting or a pre-manufactured unit for employees who actively are involved at a full-scale fungal abatement work site. Typically like in asbestos abatement the decontamination unit consists of three chambers or small shower size rooms. The rooms are 1 as you are entering the first cubical a donning of PPE equipment 2 a pass-through shower and 3 a pass-through cubical and in reverse as you are leaving 3 a doffing room and removal of PPE 2 the shower and 1 donning clean and dry street clothing. Depending on the size of the operation there may be a separate equipment pass-through and air lock. General Mitigation Note As mandated in asbestos abatement and decontamination and which should be required in full-scale fungal abatement and decontamination operations the decontamination unit is to be constructed and installed between the entry and exit of the remediation area or between the secondary containment-unit and access to a control area. Health and Safety Note Unlike asbestos abatement in fungi abatement there is no scientific evidence at present to say that the use of the shower room is either a direct ir indirect health benefit to the worker except possibly related to the general hygiene of the worker who most likely is saturated with sweat and they could benefit from a shower. Fungi Mitigation Note It is recommended in the book Bioaerosols Assessment and Control ...during fungal abatement that properly bagged waste can be passed directly through the decontamination unit. The bags surfaces are to be HEPA vacuumed before transport into uncontaminated parts of the building. Waste bags are to be removed by the most direct exit route... and without disturbance and exposure to occupants remaining in the building%u005D. See Containment-Unit Cleaning and Decontamination Critical Barrier during Fungi Abatement



Odours in the presence of gas or vapours that can be offensive and suffocating. Airborne solid particles usually less than 1 micrometer um in size formed by condensation of vapors sublimation distillation calcination or chemical reaction.


Fungal Infections

Disease to the skin cells and other organs. Fungal infections in humans are called mycosis.



Fungi are the class and group of organisms studied by mycologists. 1 Fungi may be filamentous form or single cells such as yeasts. Moulds and mildews are also fungi and so are yeasts and mushrooms. Fungi are plants that lack chlorophyll and they do not grow like normal plants. Education Note 2 Fungi in water damage buildings are large heterogeneous group of eukaryotic organisms. Most fungi are saprophytes they feed off of dead decaying organic material. Fungi will grow on wet building materials such as wood drywall and cellulose. c Fungi are the primary cause of rotting degradation and decomposition of organic materials. Health Note 3 Fungi can also release mycotoxins and other toxins which when breathed are known to cause health impairments asthma and allergies in humans and animals. See Mould



An EPA registered disinfectant that kills fungus yeasts and mould.


Fungus and Wood Decay

Fungi specific to wood decay wet-rot and dry-rot includes many of the known fungal species. Dry-Rot fungi is a particular type of wood rot and the fungi scientific name is Merulius lacrymans. Wet-Rot fungi is another type of fungi its scientific name is Coniophora cerebella. See Dry-Rot Wet-Rot Poria incrassata



Articles of convenience that are used to furnish a home or office. They are usually independent from permanent installations and fixtures.


Furniture Blocks

Polystyrene or wood blocks that are used to elevate and keep furniture up and out of a flooded environment. Restorative Drying Note Properly used furniture blocks reduce wicking of water and moisture into furniture and they stop rust marks from occurring from metal furniture.


Furniture Damage

Physical damage to a section or piece of furniture. Furniture damage may be the loss of integrity from high humidity contact with water swelling loss of colour or finish. Damage may be caused by a fire that results in temporary and some times permanent damage to the furniture. Insurance companies reserve their right to attempt the repair and restoration of damaged furniture or replacement with like kind and quality.


Furniture Protectors

Foil or plastic tabs that are properly placed under furniture resulting in providing a protective barrier between the furniture and a moisture source.


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