I just got back from my first hoarding fire.  Stuff stacked to the roof, and not good usable stuff either.  The smoke was to the floor and it was hard just moving to the involved room.  Put my back out pretty badly.  I was curious to know of some of your experiences and if any of your jurisdictions have found a good way to deal with the problem either fire fighting or code enforcement.  thanks

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Luckily we haven't responded to too many such fires. We have encountered such homes on EMS calls etc and in such cases we do notify the fire marshal's office who then deals with the city's inspection department, etc. In some cases the house was condemned for human living and the owner had so many days to clean up the place.


When such issues are also discovered the FD is informed via dept email, about such an address etc and to be cautious if responding to such a call, which may mean tactics change. If there is no prior notice, it depends upon what is encountered when arriving, and again tactics may change.


The problem with code enforcement, especially with a private dwelling, is the only way you can address this before a fire, is to find it by some other call for service.

Years back in the 70s my company ran a house fire and found one front room of the house filled with newspaper bundles. Has to why the family had the room filled with them We did get to find out.

Unless there is entraptment, surround and drown.  I'm not risking my crews life to save property if it poses an increased threat to their safety.  Defensive operations.

yeah, probably a good idea.  I dont know what we would have done had we known prior to making entry.  I did not realize it was a hoarding situation untill i was four or five feet into the house, the smoke was that dense.  I am paying for it now with day four of back pain.

The generic term for this condition in the United States is “Collyer’s Mansion.” I frequently see the term misspelled “Collier’s Mansion.”

Execute a quick search on the phrase “The Collyer Brothers of Harlem” to learn more about the origin of this fire service slang.

There is a good article at: http://nypress.com/

Due to an increased risk of entrapment and extreme fire behaviour due to fuel load we would definately go to a defensive attack. Hope you heal up soon.

Yes I do agree with this!! Like they say in training, "Look out for number 1 first."

We try to identify the hoarder houses when we update our pre plans and all are listed as exterior operations unless known entrapment. No sense in risking anyone's life for trash.

My father responded to a good one years ago.

It was a reported basement fire, he was on the nozzle.  He went down 3 steps on the cellar stairs and started to level out.  He was confused at first because it was smokey as hell.  After crawling 5-6 feet into the basement on what he thought was the floor he smelled something extremely foul and realised he was crawling on garbage bags; mounds and mounds of garbage just thrown into the basement in every corner, the furnace touched off the garbage and it smoldered for days before finaly igniting.  It took them hours and hours to pull the garbage out and overhaul the mess...I just wish I never run into something like that, my father spent a week washing and re-washing his turnout coat and hip boots, and had to get new gloves.

Reminds me about a flooded house we ran. We walked in the front door and turned to the stairs going down and the water was at the first step going down to the finished basement.

Bedrooms, wash room, rec room, fish tank, small pets everything trashed.

The people that owned the house planted trees and bushes around a storm drain in their back yard and the water detour to the outside stair well and it filled up to the point it broke down the door.

Always remember if you run on one house that's hoarded there will be more IF you live and serve a small town in rural areas you can usually spot them out we have a rule is if its a home that hoarded we won't go under extreme situations of hoarding we also had one and unfortunately and luckily only resulted in a minor injury of a member remember that your safety comes first never forget that its not your emergency risk vs benefits needs to be weighed that's the reactive side being said the proactive side is maybe start up a home safety survey you can find it on nfpa website I have barked up this tree to my superiors but goes unheard benefits of doing it is public education and showing the community you want to be involved with them a good thing to do is make connections with local churches and public services that can help the hoarder get ahold of the problem and it makes it safe for the firefighters Ems and the resident don't deman them to clean it or fix it you will not know the reasoning behind their disease my best advice to learning more about it is doing research and maybe watch a few episodes of buried alive shows that show what makes hoarders tick it can be a multitude of reasons why they do it and the best thing to do is listen its just like running on the homeless person or your frequent flyer just listen to them I know it's a PIA to go but you never know when that one run to them you go on will be legit so listen research and be proactive and resourceful you are not only a ff or emt medic you wear many hats be safe and good luck.

Ditto what many have stated already. We sometimes visit these occupancies on EMS runs way before they catch fire. At that time we can recognize the problem and plan for the possibility. Like Jesse said, surround and drown. Remember the old adage "We will risk nothing for that which cannot be saved."

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