LUZERNE — Clean Force 1 is not your typical cleaning business.
It was about 13 years ago when owner Danielle Sciandra, 38, of Luzerne, got a phone call she didn’t expect. It was from a woman whose family member had committed suicide, and she was asking the business for help with the clean-up.
“I couldn’t tell her no,” Sciandra said. She said she called the American Red Cross to determine what Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) rules applied to do that kind of job properly before going to the woman’s house.
Dealing with crime scenes, deaths and similar events has since become somewhat the norm for the business. Sciandra said she’ll get a number of calls for them one month but then not have any for several months.
She said a number of different officials, such as coroners, funeral directors and district attorneys, as well as property owners, call her for help.
“It’s kind of like mold, where they don’t have laws just yet,” she said in reference to more morbid jobs. “Will they ever? Probably not.”
Instead, she said workers treat those situations as though they were working at a hospital. They must be trained in blood-borne pathogens and wear proper protection to avoid contact with potentially hazardous material.
During the more morbid jobs, Sciandra said she is often on hand from start to finish. Once workers are suited up with protective clothing and respirators, a safe area is established. Cleaning equipment, ranging from air scrubbers to fogging treatment equipment, are brought in, depending on the job.
Sciandra said workers will cut out any materials or areas directly affected by contamination. That could be carpets, floorboards to even floor joists — any area that might be affected by blood or other bodily fluids.
“Our goal is to prevent any remaining family members from having any visible evidence that a trauma occurred,” Sciandra said. “That’s the primary goal of restorers who specialize in that type of work.”
One incident in particular struck Sciandra emotionally. A trail of blood led around a house in one incident, eventually leading to a baby carriage.
Despite how emotionally taxing the job can be, Sciandra said she focuses on helping her clients.
“It’s all I’ve ever done,” she said. “As a kid, I knew I’d be doing something that would help people. I just never thought it was going to be this.”
Sciandra owned a similar company with her ex-husband when she was in her early 20s. After about 10 years, the company closed when the pair got divorced. She spent five years working for one of her largest competitors, First General, before being approached by the former owner of Clean Force 1.
Sciandra was offered a partnership because the owner wanted to get out of the business within five to 10 years.
“He ended up wanting to leave sooner than later,” Sciandra said. “And that’s when I brought Colleen in.”
Sciandra operates the business with her longtime friend Colleen McGovern. The duo’s business responds to “pretty much anything that happens to a property that’s bad,” Sciandra said. That could include water and fire damage, pipe breaks, sewer backups and mold. To Sciandra’s knowledge, her business is the only one that is owned by women.
“I would say it’s helped me more than hurt me, but there’s been some jobs where people just would not listen to what I had to say,” she said. “I’ve become very confident with myself. It’s just experience.”
The business uses the Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC) as a standard of how work should be done.
Though she had five full-time and two part-time employees, Sciandra uses a number of per diem workers for all of the business’s calls. The per diems can range from nurses and a certified nursing assistant to plumbers, electricians contractors and other agents.
“Ninety percent of our business is referrals, and it’s from people I’ve met over the years,” she said.
Sciandra said work is also done in accordance with insurance regulations, as well as those from OSHA and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. She said she is considering getting qualifications to clean meth labs and asbestos.