Fire Service warns of increased fire risk during National Hoarding Awareness Week

It’s estimated that hoarding affects 2-5% of the UK population

Hoarding image -shutterstock 704273866


16/05/2023 5:13pm


Hampshire & Isle of Wight Fire and Rescue Service

Hampshire and Isle of Wight Fire and Rescue Service (HIWFRS) is supporting National Hoarding Awareness Week, 15 – 21 May 2023.

There is often a strong link between hoarding and fire risks. It’s estimated that hoarding affects 2-5% of the UK population (Hoarding Awareness Week, Clouds End CIC) and the effects of this can be devastating.

Hoarding behaviour presents additional fire risks to members of our community so HIWFRS is committed to raising awareness of this condition and the support available.

The free home fire safety (Safe and Well) visits by HIWFRS play a huge part in identifying and supporting those who may be displaying hoarding behaviours.

A Safe and Well visit was recently carried out for MJ, a lady from Portsmouth with a high-level hoarding concern around her property. She had been referred for a Safe and Well visit by the council’s Adult Services team.

The Community Safety Assistant who carried out the visit found the property packed with items including empty food packets scattered around, as well as dog faeces. The high level of hoarding in the property was making it difficult for MJ to access all the rooms and the blocking of escape routes would’ve made it hard for MJ to escape in the event of a fire. MJ was also displaying other behaviours associated with poor mental health.

Concerned for MJ’s safety and wellbeing, the Community Safety Assistant escalated the safeguarding concern. This enabled multi-agency support to be provided at MJ’s pace so she could be in control of the steps taken to improve her living environment.

On a return visit, the house was much clearer. MJ had walkways into every room, and she said that her mental health had improved a lot. She was also looking forward to her new cleaner starting soon. Her house was in a much better condition with the level of hoarding significantly reduced.

Community Development and Safeguarding Manager Paul Francis said:

“We work closely with partners to take a multi-agency approach to tackle all safeguarding concerns including hoarding. The Service and other partner agencies will continue to support MJ and although she still displays hoarding behaviours, this has significantly reduced since our intervention, meaning a lower level of fire risk.”

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Did you know, additional fire risks associated with hoarding include:

• Escape routes may become blocked preventing easy escape in the event of a fire.
• Fire spread and intensity can be accelerated by hoarded material.
• Materials can increase smoke development.
• Those with hoarding behaviours may not want people to access their space meaning essential repairs on property and utilities are not reported and fixed.
• Hoarding also creates additional risks for firefighters.

Find out more about free home fire safety visits, visit the Safeguarding area of our website or read more about National Hoarding Awareness Week

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