Fire Rescue Victoria

Fires and other emergencies are more likely to occur in a home where there is hoarding and/or squalor. 

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

These fires put occupants, their neighbours, and responding firefighters at risk.

High fuel loads can increase the size, spread, and severity of a fire. This makes it harder to contain and extinguish.

In a fire, blocked exits and falling objects can make it difficult to escape. This can delay firefighters from accessing a property in an emergency.

  • Hoarding and squalor can be present on their own, or at the same time.

    Hoarding is:

    • the persistent accumulation of, and lack of ability to relinquish, large numbers of objects or living animals, resulting in extreme clutter in or around a home
    • a recognised mental health condition that can affect all types of people of any age. Can be seen both inside and outside a home, or a combination of both
    • personal papers, newspapers, clothing, furniture, appliances, household, and/or rubbish, animals, and hard rubbish are often hoarded

    Squalor is:

    • an unsanitary living environment caused by extreme or prolonged neglect
    • a possible a health and safety risk to people or animals, and other community members
  • To help people affected by hoarding, you should:

    • install smoke alarms and test them
    • unblock exits
    • widen internal pathways
    • connect utilities
    • remove clutter to at least one metre from stove tops, cooking appliances and heaters
    • ensure electrical items, power boards and electrical outlets are not buried in clutter
    • discourage the use of potential ignition sources such as cigarettes, candles or incense.
  • Read Hoarding and squalor: a practical resource for service providers

    Contact FRV and ask for the At Risk Groups Team for more information.

Reviewed 26 June 2020

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