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Hoarding and Fire Safety

Hoarding and Fire Safety

Compulsive Hoarding can lead to a dangerous situation for not only you, but also for firefighters in the event of a house fire. 

One concern from fire departments is the chaotic nature of the material in many hoarding situations, where windows and exits can be blocked, which makes a fire attack and rescue difficult. 

The excessive amount of materials and items in homes poses a significant threat to firefighters fighting fires and responding to other emergencies in these homes and to residents and neighbors. Quite often, the local fire department will be contacted to help deal with this serious issue. Studies suggest that 3-5% of the population are compulsive hoarders, and fire departments must become familiar with this issue and be prepared to effectively handle it. 

What is hoarding?
Hoarding is defined as collecting or keeping large amounts of various items in the home due to strong urges to save them or distress experienced when discarding them. Many rooms in the home are so filled with possessions that residents can no longer use the rooms as designed. The home is so overloaded with things that everyday living is compromised.

Why do people become hoarders?
Hoarding is a mental disorder that can be genetic in nature, triggered by traumatic events, or a symptom of another disorder, such as depression, obsessive compulsive disorder, or dementia. Studies have found that hoarding usually begins in early adolescence and gets worse as a person ages. It is more common among older adults.

Why is hoarding an issue for the fire service?

1. Hoarding can be a fire hazard. Many occupants die in fires in these homes. Often, blocked exits prevent escape from the home. In addition, many people who are hoarding are injured when they trip over things or when materials fall on them.

2. Responding firefighters can be put at risk due to obstructed exits, falling objects, and excessive fire loading that can lead to collapse. Hoarding makes fighting fires and searching for occupants far more difficult.

3. Those living adjacent to an occupied structure can be quickly affected when a fire occurs, due to excessive smoke and fire conditions.

For more information, visit www.nfpa.org

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If you would like more information about Thomasville Homes Restoration, or to get a quote, give us a call at (410) 360-1075.

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