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.
- 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
- 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 .
Contact FRV and ask for the At Risk Groups Team for more information.
Reviewed 26 June 2020