Knowledge and understanding
Understand all associated hazard knowledge
Hoarding involves the acquisition of, and failure to discard, a large quantity of possessions. The accumulation of flammable material in a building can be hazardous to firefighters. Extreme cases can cause homes to become difficult to enter and make movement hazardous. The large quantity of flammable materials present will impede egress, accelerate firespread, create extreme temperatures and large volumes of smoke, making working within the property difficult.
High stacks of flammable materials can collapse because of fire or due to firefighting actions, harming or trapping responding personnel. The weight of materials can lead to floor or building collapse, especially when combined with water from firefighting activities.
Hoarders often deliberately block off secondary exits and create labyrinths from a single entry. Internal doors can be removed to accommodate materials.
Hoard materials can include animal, human waste and food which encourages the spread of disease and infestation or may themselves be hazardous. Some individuals hoard animals which represent a risk to responding personnel.
Deep seated or smouldering fires can continue to burn or spread to areas initially unaffected without being detected. Compartments within a property may be inaccessible, which can impede progress and prevent access to utility isolation points.
Compulsive hoarding is a disorder, often linked to some form of personal tragedy. Symptoms can include emotional attachment to their hoard, social isolation and shame. Hoarders may be unable or unwilling to leave their property, unwilling to contact emergency services or allow them into their property and can be resistant to removal of items. When talking to someone who is hoarding, attempt to match the language they use for their “hoard”. Attempted entry into or removal of materials from a property may cause an emotional reaction.
See also National Occupational Guidance: Fires and firefighting - Flashover and Backdraught
See also National Operational Guidance: Operations - People.