Hoarding: A Fire Prevention and Response Concern

Issue 3 and Volume 164.

BY SUSAN M. KIRK Firefighters constantly face new challenges. We want to do the most good for the most people, but in many of our local jurisdictions, the problem of hoaders is challenging our local agencies and prevention personnel. Hoarders have homes so overpacked with items that it is almost impossible to find an unblocked entrance or a means of escape should a firefighter find himself in trouble. Many times, we laugh about such homes and turn away, shaking our heads in astonishment. I have seen this firsthand and decided to further investigate them. Whether you call it a Collyers’ mansion, a pack rat nest, or just cluttered, it is still the same issue regardless of the geographical location (photo 1). (1) Photos by author. Is it human behavior or a psychosocial issue? Hoarding is a mental disorder that stems from the fear of losing any item that may be…

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