Hoarding is a complex issue which requires intervention and long-term support from appropriate agencies, it can be challenging to manage. One-off clean-ups are not effective.

If the underlying issues are not addressed, the accumulation of materials can increase.

FRV recommends that any smoke alarms at the property be checked to ensure they are in working order and positioned appropriately, as these provide critical early warning in case of a fire in the home. The installation of additional smoke alarms is recommended in properties with high fuel loads – especially in areas where people sleep to ensure they have the earliest possible warning of a fire and time to escape.

Research has identified that hoarding increases the risk of having a fire and reduces the likelihood of the occupant/s being able to escape safety. Fires in these homes also increase the risk to responding fire fighters, emergency services and neighbouring properties.

Every 4-6 days FRV firefighters respond to a fire or emergency where there is hoarding and/or squalor.

Hoarding increases the risk of fire because:

  • Accumulation of possessions results in an abnormally high fuel load and greater opportunity for ignition, it can increase the size, spread, and severity of a fire. This makes it harder to contain and extinguish.
  • Blocked exits and narrow internal pathways impede escape for the occupant. This can also delay firefighters from accessing a property in an emergency.
  • Non-functional gas or electricity may result in unsafe cooking and heating practices.
FRV's Clutter Image Rating Scale
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For further hoarding related information please contact the At Risk Groups Unit on 1300 367 617 or via atriskgroups@frv.vic.gov.au.

For further advice on Hoarding and Squalor, visit: www.frv.vic.gov.au/hoarding-and-squalor