Hoarder Fire Case Study Elyria Ohio

Hoarder Fire Case Study Elyria Ohio

Location: Elyria Ohio
Responding Agency: Elyria Fire Department
Event Date: January 18, 2015
Event Type: Working Structure fire with Victim Trapped Location: Skylark Court Elyria Ohio
Time:1600 Hours b2ap3_thumbnail_Elyria-Hoarder-Fire-North-Coast-now-.jpg

Approximately 1600 hours on January 18th the Elyria Ohio fire department was alerted to a house fire.  The initial dispatch was directed to an industrial area with a large warehouse structure and first arriving unit advised nothing showing. Updated dispatch information redirected the responding units to the correct address and also advised the responding chief of confirmed occupant trapped.  Dispatch also passed along information from the caller that the occupant was a “Hoarder”and they could see visible flames. 

Engine 3 arrived on scene with smoke showing throughout the structure with the heaviest amounts seen from division 2. Engine 3 chose and offensive posture with 1 3/4 sized line for primary search and fire control. Ladder 7 advised heaviest fire division 2 side c while chief 3 instructed them to ventilate vertically.  Rescue 31 directed for occupant search and rescue. Supply line was established by engine 4.  An unknown unit advised chief 3 of an awning that is compromised by fire with “a lot of trash underneath it”.  

Upon hearing that report Chief 3 ordered an emergency manpower recall.  Shortly thereafter Chief 3 was advised fire was extending to upper floors and roof.  A transitional attack was used after the discovery of fire extension the roof area.  Chief 3 then requests a MABAS box alarm assignment 1341 to respond and stand bye.  Second due company advised they were unavailable due to another assignment.  Chief 3 then advised the box would be sufficient without them and requested the fire prevention and training officer to the seen.  

Shortly after that transmission unknown member advised the chief of fire on side C “coming through the vent hole”.  At the 20 minute mark Chief 3 described their operation as a “marginal offensive attack”having difficulty making entry and are unable to locate the victim.  Chief 3 a then advised of heavy fire in the awning area again.  Additional units began to respond from the call back.  At the 40 minute mark Chief 3 announced that they were going defensive due to the amount of stuff inside. 

(The above information obtained from the command channel audio files. )

Operational functions Overview 

Initial alarm assignments chose and aggressive interior posture for search and fire control.  These crews were met with hoarding conditions with pathways as means of traveling between rooms.  There initial tactical objective was to search the upstairs of the home, where they believed the occupant was located.  What they found in the process of making entry to division 2 (the upstairs) is that it was full of belongings with no pathways.  Upon this realization the crews began to use VES procedures (vent, enter, search) to gain access to the rooms via outside windows. 

During this process firefighters had to remove multiple tress to gain access to the windows. They chose the oriented search as ways of positive location management, due to the walls being unusable for orientation.  

Firefighters also began to search on the first floor where one truck company captain described conditions changing from moderate to severe in a shorter than normal time period.  He also describe the stacks being so high at one point his “air pack was dragging the ceiling.”  With the combined efforts of fire control and search proving to be ineffective Chief 3 ordered all firefighters out of the building and into a defensive posture.  

Once out of the structure Chief 3 requested an excavator to the scene for building demolition and to search for the occupant.  They were able to locate the victim, under debris, on the first floor. The victim had the house so full of belongings that she could no longer use the second floor and had retreated to the first floor for day to day living. 

Overhaul and building demolition continued for hours and the aftermath is beyond words.  

Conclusion

The fire that occurred in Elyria Ohio is a remarkable case study of success. While the occupant was not saved the operations used sound fire ground practices and aggressive procedures to contain the fire and preform a search.  Risk versus reward was constantly used and communication was affective during the entire operation.  One of the biggest learning points from this particular fire is the incident commander and his control over the fire scene.  By effectively communicating with the operational firefighters everyone understood their assignments, performed accordingly, and came home safe.  Very few suggestions for improvement are seen from the operational standpoint, but more towards having a common reporting system that can lead to affective pre fire planning.  

Elyria Successes 
  • Dispatch advised crews of Hoarding Conditions
  • Strong Command presence 
  • Great communication from interior to command and back 
  • Interior crews minimized firefighters inside 
  • Basic Fire ground functions were assigned and performed 
  • Additional Firefighters called in quickly 
  • 20 Minute updates and reports given and used 
  • Constant updates from around the structure 
  • Defensive operations initiated in a timely fashion
  • Excavators called in 

  • Elyria Opportunities 

 

  • Initiate a Pre Plan Process (Building officials had visited homes multiple times)
  • Utilize Police, Fire, Ems, and utilities to locate and identify Hoarding Conditions
  • Initiate common terminology to describe conditions (Suggested “Heavy Content”)

 

Download the full report Below 

Elyria-Hoarding-Fire-Case-Study-.pdf

 

 

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Hoarding conditions made fire difficult to fight, official says

b2ap3_thumbnail_2-27-15-wrightsville-fire-06-jpg.jpg

 

 

WRIGHTSVILLE, Pa. —Six adults and one a child are out of their home after fire through it Friday morning in Wrightsville, York County.The fire started in a basement laundry room around 4:30 a.m. at the home along the 500 block of Walnut Street between 5th and 6th streets. The homeowner told News 8 that he tried to fight the fire with an extinguisher, but the flames were too much. The state police fire marshal is investigating, but because damage is so extensive, the cause is not yet clear. Firefighters said the blaze was difficult to fight due to hoarding conditions in the basement.

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Cats killed in Hoarding Fire

cats

Hoarding fire kills Cats in New Mexico 

Albuquerque firefighters say six cats died in a house fire Sunday morning. The incident happened around 11 a.m. on Alder Drive NW near Unser. The homeowner wasn't injured, but she did lose six of her cats. Another five were taken to the veterinarian. The Albuquerque Fire Department says the fire was contained to one room and extinguished quickly. But what they found inside the home appalled them. "This was a hoarding situation. Lots of garbage and feces on the ground this fire could've been much worse because of all that extra fuel in the house," said Larry Gallegos, Bernalillo County spokesperson. "You don't normally have that much fuel, papers and boxes stacked up so high. All of that is fuel for fire that's what makes it so dangerous." According to Bernalillo County Animal Care ordinance, in most cases, residents are not allowed to have more their four animals in their home without a permit. Albuquerque fire said two of her cats are still roaming the neighborhood. If you see them, call animal control at 311.

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Police Officers Save Woman from Hoarder Fire

CHP-Patrol

By ABC7.com staff Friday, February 13, 2015 11:45PM ENCINO, LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- California Highway Patrol officers rescued an elderly woman living in pack rat conditions who was trapped by flames in her Encino home near the 101 Freeway on Friday. The officers happened to be driving by. "We heard screaming coming from the other side of the house," California Highway Patrol Officer Edward Diffner said. "She was lying on the floor, 4 or 5 feet from the house, and she was screaming for our help," CHP Officer Kevin Mendel said. Crews responded to the one-story home in the 15000 block of Magnolia Boulevard near Densmore Avenue at about 5:50 p.m. Two people, an elderly woman and a man, were treated by firefighters at the scene. The woman was transported to a nearby hospital and was treated for moderate burns and smoke inhalation. She was in fair condition. The fire was confined to the one-story home, but excessive storage made it difficult to put out the flames. Fifty-five firefighters spent more than two hours battling the blaze. No firefighters were injured. The home was heavily damaged. The cause of the fire has not been determined. Neighbors were grateful for the CHP officers who arrived on the scene. "They did a great job, fast, good, very good," witness Sam Volchauck said.

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Rats found in Hoarded Apartment

Rats found in Hoarded Apartment

WEST PALM BEACH (CBS12) - The problem of hoarding came into focus in a neighborhood near West Palm Beach on Wednesday.

Frank Buttaravoli's company, Hello Junk Removal, got a call about a man whose condo was filled with packaged food. The owner had placed cans at the base of piles of boxed and bagged staples, filling the man's living room, dining room and bedroom.

About an hour into the job of hauling away the thousands of packages, rodent sounds could be heard in the apartment.

Eventually worker Rafael Sinkal found what appeared to be a nest of rats, and the animals went scurrying in every direction.

"I have not in any hoarder situation seen rats running around like children on a playground," said Buttaravoli.

Unfortunately neighbors were already aware of the rodent problem.

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Raw Video Hoarding Apt. Fire Maryland

hoarder-fires-2017



Great footage from Statter911.com of a three alarm fire in PG county Maryland that was complicated by Hoarding Conditions.  This is a great reminder that Heavy Content conditions can be found in any occupancy.  It is common to find these conditions in multi-family dwellings.  The case study from 200 Wellesly Ave in Toronto is a HUGE reminder of Hoarding in a High Rise occupancy.

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Hoarding discovery on Medical Response

hoarder-ems

The news explains the initial call for service as being a respiratory distress call that evolved into a HazMat situation, due to the suspected Meth Lab inside.  

This is a great example of the exposure potential to all first responder agencies. Let’s take a look as some learning points from this news clip:

EMS: Many EMS agencies do not carry the needed equipment needed to protect their responders from the airborne dangers of hoarding, managing the collapse risk, and facilitate a safe removal.  the need for additional resources should be made immediately. 

Police:Our brothers and sisters in blue often do not receive the awareness training when faced with hoarding conditions.  When education is taking place adding them into the classes should be mandatory. Often they will respond for a well being check and, without understanding the danger, enter a environment that is hazardous. 

 

Fire:  In the news clip the firefighters take the appropriate actions by wearing their SCBA and turnout gear while investigating the apartment.  While this may not be required on all hoarding calls it should be considered if faced with multiple animals and homes filled with fecal matter or urine.  

 

Take away 

 

The most important take away from this short news clip is the need to start identifying these conditions in our areas. Starting a unified approach to hoarding is the “best practice” to ensure all cases are identified and shared with every agency. 

 

Using building inspectors, building managers, and utility workers is a great way to gain access to building that first responders usually do not have access to. Reach out to these agencies and explain the dangers of hoarding and being the mutual working agreement to help combat this problem.


 

 

 

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Dolton Illinois Hoarder Fire Video

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Hoarder Fire from Dolton IL

Dolton,Illinois Still & Box House Fire 14641 Lincoln Avenue

Good morning from the ChamberofHoarders.com,
 
We would like to thank you for visiting our new, redesigned, site.  Look for new content added weekly!
 
Today's video comes from Dolton Illinois.  This video is a great example of the challenges faced by first arriving crews that encounter a Heavy Content Environment. Listen in as these firefighters make some key decisions of attacking this fire:
Challenges include:

    • Privacy Fences

    • Cluttered exterior

    • Blocked Entrances

    • Limited water supply (initially)

    • Heavier workload on firefighters


While watching this great video put yourself in the shoes of these firefighters as they Identify, Adjust, then attack this fire.

 



Make sure to sign up for our email list to learn more about fighting fires in Hoarding conditions!
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Firefighter Shocked in Hoarder Fire

 

Hoarder Fire Bob Donaldson / Post-Gazette


By Molly Born / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Firefighters crawled over piles of books, newspapers and other items Tuesday morning while trying to put out heavy flames in a vacant house in Homestead.

Allegheny County assessment records show the house belonged to Margaret Mary Vojtko, the former Duquesne University adjunct professor of French whose death in September sparked a debate about the workloads and pay of adjuncts at U.S. universities.

A West Homestead firefighter was injured helping battle the blaze at 1110 Sylvan Ave. Homestead Deputy Fire Chief Ron Kalupson said the firefighter, whose name was not released, was taken to UPMC Mercy for observation after he received an electric shock while extending a hose.

The house, while unoccupied, still had electrical power, the deputy chief said.

Firefighters had to crawl over a lot of “debris” to extinguish flames coming from the second floor of the two-story brick home, the deputy chief said.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/local/south/2014/03/25/Firefighter-hurt-in-West-Homestead-blaze/stories/201403250176#ixzz2x55PoQ7L

 

News Video Coverage Found Here

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Chamber of Hoarders Learning Center: Behind the Scenes



 

Here is a behind the scenes look at the ChamberofHoarders.com Learning Center.  Four hours of education of Hoarding and how we need to Identify, Adjust, and attack the overloaded buldings caused by Compulsive Hoarding Disorder.

 
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Hoarding and First Responders

Since the days of the Collier Brothers in Manhattan first responders have been

   


dealing with the affects of compulsive hoarding disorder.  The ChamberofHoarders.com is a website dedicated to teaching educating first responders on the needed changes to tactics and challenges they will face when entering the hoarding environment.  From bio-hazards during a medical response to a working structural fire hoarding offers dangers that can affect responders for years.

The mission of this website is to deliver actionable content that you can put to action immediately.  Starting with this post we would like to walk you through the causes, challenges, and solutions when dealing with the conditions caused by compulsive hoarding.  Over the next 52 weeks we will be posting fresh content that offers insight into the disorder and how to change  our operations to bring everyone home safe.

History of Compulsive Hoarding: Week 1

Compulsive Hoarding Disorder is defined as  the accumulation of and failure to discard a large amount of belongings that have no apparent value, the accumulation makes living spaces unusable, and causes significant distress on the occupant (Frost and Hartl 1996) This clinical definition describes the inability to discard belongings that eventually accumulate from floor level until, eventually, ceiling height.  Compulsive Hoarders receive positive feelings from the acquiring belongings and are unable to part with them because of the negative feelings they receive when parting with them.
This collection often is comprised of things that you and I would consider to have little value. Common items collected include:

    •  Newspapers

 

    • Magazines

 

    • Books

 

    • DVD’S

 

    • CD’S



These items can differ in each case of hoarding, depending on the afflicted’s compulsion.

It’s believed that Compulsive Hoarding Disorder affects between 700,000 - 1 million people.  (Hoarding Handbook… Bratiotis,C, Steketee (2011) Many think that this number is lower than the actual number.  Many cases of hoarding go unreported as the affected person often feels ashamed or embarrassed by their disorder. They don’t want “discovered” or “exposed” and often stay hidden inside their homes without allowing anyone to enter, including family members. Not allowing visitors inside will often keep the conditions hidden until an emergency happens and we, the first responders, find the conditions as we make entry to solve the problem.

Dealing with surprise can be one of the biggest challenges to first responders. Imagine responding to a seemingly normal looking home, just to open the door and find a labyrinth of belongings that reach to the ceiling.  Most often the hoarding is discovered during a routine emergency medical call or fall assist. If you discover these conditions during one of these types of responses you need to start the pre-fire process in motion to establish a “Heavy Content” environment. Getting the information should be processed through your departments normal pre -fire planning process for constancy. Adding the plan to the normal collection of multi-family and high hazards buildings will make the plan available to the street level responders.

 

Having an understanding of the complexities associated with Compulsive Hoarding Disorder is required by the responders left to deal with the mess.  It is a complex disorder that is NOT A CHOICE.  We can not cast judgement or compare their living conditions with ours.  Remember in their eyes belongings are valuable and not just trash laying around.  Using a layer of compassion and understanding when dealing with the occupants will lead to a more successful outcome.  This care should be taken in non life threatening conditions to understand, explain, and support them.  Treating them like a beloved family member is a great method of supporting their emotional needs.

If you are mean spirited and use terms such as “trash house” or “hoarder” they can have severe reactions to yourself and crew, sometimes violent reactions. One example of this type of reaction occurred in Long Beach California as a code enforcement official showed up to a home to serve notice.  The occupant shot the code enforcement officer in the head.

“Code enforcement officers arrived at the home about 8 a.m. Thursday to serve an inspection warrant in response to hoarding complaints. When they arrived he fired at them, police said, hitting one of the code officers in the head.” source  La Times 

This illustration should help us all understand how strong the compulsion to protect their belongings is. How threatened do you think a person would have to be in order to shoot a code enforcement officer? We all should keep this illustration in mind as we respond to hoarding conditions to ensure we all come home safe.

 

Thanks for stopping by chamberofhoarders.com as we begin the year long journey of discovery…..

 

As always you can learn more about Hoarding in our online Learning Center… Click Here! 

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Hoarding Firefighting: Lesson from a Live Fire Experience

When firefighters enter a burning building many different factors come into play.  One huge factor that can affect the outcome of the operation is the presence of increased amounts of belongings, caused by a person afflicted with compulsive hoarding disorder.  As their collection of stuff accumulates the danger in hoarding firefighting increases.

[caption id="attachment_882" align="alignright" width="180"]Firefighter Enter Hoarding Firefighter Enter Hoarding


Over the past two years of reaching out to fire departments from around the world some common challenges kept coming up.  Inability to hit the seat of the fire, shielding from the heat , and difficulties in escape were top of the list.  This past weekend the chamber of hoarders had a unique opportunity to enter a “live fire” environment to experience these variables.

With the assistance of the Frontier Fire Company in Wheatfield New York a hoarding environment was set up and multiple scenarios were run.  The results were a confirmation of all the research collected. Each variable was looked at individually and together with great success.  It truly served as a reminder that hoarding changes our operations and if we are unwilling to adjust our operation it may not be successful.

Shielding from the Heat

With many safety measures in place the fire rotations started with a firefighter between the stacks of belongings with a thermal imager.  What we learned was a confirmation and an amazing result. While the other instructors took a beating from the heat in front of and behind the stacks of stuff the inside firefighters documented floor temperatures of 125 degrees with thermal imagining, shielded from the heat.

Documenting these temperatures was an unofficial, non- scientific example of the true dangers of the hoarding environment.  No monitors, measuring equipment, or recording devices were in place, just a group of firefighters with thermal imaging cameras watching something amazing.  The hoard shielded the firefighter from the heat.  It restricted the heat and pushed it past and around.  These results proved a multiple amount of points.

  • Hoarding can give interior firefighters a false sense of environment

  • Shielding can allow firefighters to push further inside without experiencing the normal heat levels

  • Stacks of stuff can trap firefighters

  • Victims can have more survivable thermal temperatures when insulated with hoarding.


With the recent research on flow paths coming to light the need to adjust them for hoarding  firefighting was revealed inside the burn room in New York this past weekend. It reconfirmed the dangers of the insulation provided by the interior conditions.  This insulation can hide the hidden heat and dangers until it’s too late.  Most firefighters advance into burning buildings using their senses to determine how far and deep they are to go.  In hoarding conditions they may keep pushing unaware of the hidden dangers waiting for them. Dangers that could present themselves in the form of rollover, flashover, or backdraft, trapping the firefighters because they don’t have secondary means of egress.

[caption id="attachment_883" align="alignright" width="120"]Hoarding Firefighting Hoarding Firefighting


 Conclusion

Confirmation that the shielding is real was not a surprising result.  This weekend just reconfirmed what we have been learning from survival stories from around the world.  Hoarding conditions can act as an insulator keeping high temperatures away from the victim or firefighter in the middle.  We need to educate firefighters to be aware that this shielding can lead to poor judgment to just how far we should push.

Identify, adjust, and attack when Hoarding is discovered!!!!!!!

 FDIC Flow Path Video. 

 
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Hoarding Fire Safety for Family Members

Since attacking the problem of emergency responses in Hoarding Conditions, from the perspective of first responders, the questions from the family members of people who are suffering from Compulsive Hoarding Disorder keep coming in.  How can I help my family member? How do I make their home safer are a small examples of the questions that are commonly asked.

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Hoarding Fire Safety Should include a Escape Plan


Answering these questions is complex and has no one simple answer, but there are some steps to help protect your loved one from the dangers of fires in hoarding conditions.  While these simple steps may not eliminate the risks to them it can improve the chances of survival if a fire were to happen. Since starting the research into hoarding fire safety many common causes have been identified.  Sharing these common causes will help family members protect their loved ones until they can be treated by the mental health professionals.

 

Cooking Fires

Cooking fires are commonly seen in the fire service today. Hoarding conditions complicate these types of fires because the clutter has accumulated to the edge of the heating source.  When the belongings are allowed to invade the space adjacent to the stove the potential for cooking fires goes up.  If you add ordinary combustibles to a heat source the resulting fire can spread fast and trap the occupant who is in the kitchen.

0"] Hoarding Fire Safety In the Kitchen.


Fire proofing your family member’s kitchen may be a huge undertaking, especially if the hoarding level is at or above waist level.  Compulsive hoarding disorder prohibits the occupant from distinguishing between things that have great or little value. If you were to try and move their “treasured” valuables you will be met with passionate resistance. Being understanding and compassionate in your response will keep the family member at ease as you try to explain the risk for fire.

Approaching them with some tradeoffs will allow them to move their belongings away from the heating source, thus reducing the risk for a cooking fire.  Example: “Can we take the belongings from the counter and move them over to the table, away from the stove.”  If the family members understand how the thought process works they will focus on a positive solution to this problem.

This approach may be met with resistance and take time to explain the risks of cooking fire inside their environment.  Persistence with this process will be needed and the kitchen may need to be revisited multiple times as the family member replaces the belongings that have been moved.

Electrical Fires

Another leading cause of fires inside hoarding conditions are electrical fires.  Having stacks of belongings closely placed near electrical outlets increase the risks of fire from a sparking electrical outlet.  Much like the cooking fires the ordinary combustibles, newspapers and like materials, can make a fire more likely and increase the burn rate trapping occupants.

Moving the stacks of belongings away from the outlets is a simple solution to this problem.  Approaching the family member with the example of electrical outlet malfunction and explain that you are not asking to throw anything away, just move it away from the outlet will ease the pain felt when approached with the thought of losing their “treasures”.   Explaining the process of “moving” not “removing” the items can reduce their anxiety.

"] Hoarding Fire Safey


A blaring similarity, in electrical fires, seen in the hoarding environment, is caused by extension cords.  They are commonly stacked one on top of the other as electric outlets become unusable.  If an electric outlet becomes non-functioning the occupant often just runs an extension cord from a functioning one increasing the chance of overloading one outlet.  When you enter the family members home you should take time to investigate the status (usable or not) of all the outlets in the home.  This access can be difficult as the access to them can be blocked with the hoard.  Use the pathways established by the occupant to access the points available first before trying to go through the stacks.

Escape Plan


Much like the education given to elementary students in fire prevention month family members afflicted with compulsive hoarding disorder should be exposed to the exit their home plan.  Fires today are known to double every thirty seconds, offering less time for occupants to escape.  Taking the time to explain this danger to your family members will help offer some simple solutions, while starting the treatment plan.

Taking the time to explain this danger and evaluate the presence of multiple exits paths is paramount for their safety.  Example: “If a fire were to happen in the current condition blocking this only exit, you will burn to death” While this sounds somewhat extreme it may be necessary to bring home the dangers presented by not having multiple exit points in their home.

Ask your family member “What is your plan in the event of a fire and this pathway is blocked?”

 

Smoke detectors


By far the most important part of the visit should be the instillation of smoke detectors in EVERY room.  When hoarding conditions are present available airflow for smoke can be restricted.  This restriction can delay the time needed for a standard smoke detector to be alerted.  Delayed alerting can lead to less time for escape of an occupant.  Expecting this delay should lead family members to install more smoke detectors, one in each room.  Mounting them on the ceiling in the center of the room is a best option, if the stacks of stuff allow.  If not the closest proximity to the center ceiling will allow for the most coverage.

Hoarding Fire Safety Conclusion 


Dealing with loved ones that are dealing with compulsive hoarding disorder can be an emotion filled challenge that takes years.  Keeping a positive, reassuring approach that always keeps in mind the complexity of Compulsive Hoarding Disorder can lead to a successful safety intervention.  While this is not a cure it is an intervention that could save your loved ones life.  Make sure to reach out to your local fire departments, hoarding tasks forces, mental health professionals, and health officials for resources to help in your journey.

 

Additional Links:

http://www.hoarders.org/f-c.html

http://childrenofhoarders.com/wordpress/

http://hoardingdisorderinstitute.com/

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Cluttered House Fire

[caption id="" align="alignright" width="281"] Cluttered Fire Picture credit KHOU.com


HARRIS COUNTY, Texas –- Firefighters said clutter inside a westside home hindered their efforts to put out an overnight blaze.

The fire was reported on Paso Dobble Drive at Paso Del Sol Drive around 12:30 a.m. Friday, according to officials with the Community Volunteer Fire Department in Mission Bend.

A couple inside the home made it out safely and drove to a nearby fire station to ask for help.

Firefighters found fire inside the home’s kitchen and made a fast attack to get it under control. They said parts of the dining and living rooms were also damaged, however. Officials said they had trouble fighting the fire because clutter in the home was blocking the front door.

The Harris County Fire Marshal is investigating what started the blaze

Read more Here 
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Hoarder Fires Size Up

Hoarder Fires


Welcome to the first video from the ChamberofHoarders.com.  This short video is a look into the new exciting online learning that will be released soon!  The Chamber of Hoarders Online Learning Center will be a 24/7 access to hoarding education for first responders.

Keep up to date on the new online learning center by signing up for our email blasts.
Click here to sign up.   We hope you enjoy our first video.

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Overhead View of Hoarder Homes

Without a doubt, the number one question asked is “How can I tell if the home is a Hoarder Home”.  The answer: You will need to look for the Cues and Clues of Clutter. If you are driving your district, running medical emergencies, or driving home from work you should be on the lookout for the hoarded homes in your district.  Knowing the conditions BEFORE a fire happens will make you better prepared when you arrive.  How do you find a hoarder home?  Let’s look and a new approach to identifying a clutter home in your district.

Street Level View

As we drive the streets in our districts we should be on the lookout for unique challenges.  These include a hoarder home and the potential for a response.  When driving past these homes you should be looking out for some typical cues:

  • Hoarded front yards

  • Large privacy fence covering back yard

  • Cluttered front porches

  • Blocked windows

  • Overgrown shrubs, bushes or trees

  • Multiple vehicles in yard that are full


These cues and clues should trigger a need for further investigation.  If you suspect one or more of the above you should begin to investigate a little deeper, but how?

[caption id="attachment_543" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Aerial view of a Cluttered House Aerial view of a Cluttered House


Overhead View

Without an invitation or a need we cannot enter your property but the eye in the sky always knows.  Taking to your computer and using tools such as Google earth can let you get a bird’s eye view of the property to confirm your suspicions.  Find a point of interest, address, or something to give you a reference point and view the property from overhead.  This perspective will allow you to view the backyard, side yard, and potentially the windows without physically walking the property.

 Read More about Pre-Fire Planning Here:

http://chamberofhoarders.com/3-things-your-department-should-do-about-hoarding/

 

Read more about Non-Fire Dangers in Hoarder Homes Here:

http://chamberofhoarders.com/hoarder-homes-more-dangers-than-fire/
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24 Hours and 2 Hoarder Fires

[caption id="" align="alignright" width="223"]Pic from silive.com New York City Hoarder Fire


Hoarding fire Staten Island

STATEN ISLAND , N.Y. -- City firefighters rescued 30 small dogs from a blaze that ignited in a two-story home -- apparently owned by a "hoarder" -- in the Clifton section of the borough.

The call about a fire at 3 Bowen Street came in at 9:29 p.m. It was under control by 9:59 p.m., said an FDNY spokeswoman.

"It looks like there was a Colliers' mansion condition in the house; that's what we call a hoarder's house," said an FDNY spokeswoman.

Read More

http://www.silive.com/news/index.ssf/2013/08/fdny_rescues_30_dogs_during_a.html

[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="270"]Photo from local12.com Hoarder Fire


Firefighters are battling fire at the home of a hoarder in Evendale. The fire broke out Friday around 1:30 pm at 3520 Glendale Milford Road. Crews from Evendale, Glendale and Springdale have been called to help fight the fire. Firefighters were forced to take up a defensive position when they could not get through the front door because of the hoarding. There are no reports of injuries.

Read More at: http://www.local12.com/news/features/top-stories/stories/fire-at-hoarders-home-evendale-1471.shtml

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Common findings: Hoarding Conditions on a Medical Call





[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="300"] Picture from MetroDailynews.com



FRAMINGHAM —




For the second time in 16 months, authorities are investigating hoarding at a Winter Street home.

On Tuesday, the fire department went to 124 Winter St. for a medical call around 1:15 p.m. after the 83-year-old man who lived in the home was found on the ground outside, Deputy Fire Chief Anthony Pillarella said.

"Inside of the home there was unhealthy conditions," the deputy chief said.

Pillarella would not describe the conditions in the home, only to say, "They were bad enough that we called the Board of Health and the police."

Because the man was not home when the Board of Health arrived, they could not enter the home without his permission, the deputy chief said. The man was taken to MetroWest Medical Center in Framingham to be evaluated and treated.

A Framingham police crime scene photographer, wearing booties over his normal shoes, took photos inside the home.

Read more Information Here:

http://chamberofhoarders.com/hoarder-homes-more-dangers-than-fire/

http://chamberofhoarders.com/managing-the-mess-can-we-really-go-inside/



Read more: http://www.metrowestdailynews.com/news/x1837074408/Framingham-investigates-hoarding-at-Winter-Street-home#ixzz2ccHL1Fdd
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Keep the stuff off us: Stabilizing the Piles of a Hoarder Homes

[caption id="" align="alignright" width="300"] Hoarder Fire NSW Fire Department


One question that keeps coming up, time and time again, when dealing with hoarder homes, is how do we keep the piles of belongings stable and prevent them from falling on us or the occupant.  This is a challenging question with a multiple different answers, dependent on the situation.  From fighting a fire to removing a patient on an ems run this challenge can be met head on to keep the stuff off of us. Let’s look at a few simple ways to keep the massive amount of belonging in their place while we perform our tasks.



Firefighting:

The most challenging part of fighting a fire in hoarder conditions is keeping the belongings in the same place.  From a VEIS search to advancing a hoseline dealing with the stacks will be difficult.  One way of stabilizing these piles is to avoid them at all costs.  The clinical term used is “Goat Paths” and this is how the occupant accesses their home.  By using these pathways will allow you to minimize the movement of the belongings, if the pathways are wide enough to allow.  Enviably you will know some things over, but if you make an effort to keep the hose low on the stacks and crawl toward the bottom of the pile you can help prevent a collapse.

While staying low will not be an end all, cure all it will use the base to keep them in place. Another benefit in staying low is to avoid the heat that you will be exposed to if you choose to go over the piles of belongings.  Every 12 or so inches equals 100 degrees and with some hoarding conditions that means a 200 degree spike.

If you can’t stay low you may be creative in your thought process.  Bringing an attic ladder, or two, or a salvage cover can offer you a tool to help keep the stuff in place.  If you choose an attic ladder, try to place it at waist level, when standing, to stabilize the middle of the pile.  This will be a labor intensive task and you will need to pay close attention to your air supply.  Often times there will not be enough space to lay it flat, so you will need to angle it upward to the ceiling level to capture as much surface area as possible.  Choosing a salvage cover will also be challenging.  Pre-rigging it for a quick and sometimes not complete deployment will be needed.   If fire conditions allow you can carry it inside and deploy it over the pile.  The cover will need to have some weight to it, not the lighter weight blue style.  During this process you may need to knock over some of the pile to help stabilize it.  When choosing this method a thermal imagining camera and due diligence is needed to make sure you are NOT exposing the firefighters or cover to high heat conditions.

Accessing the exterior:

One pressing problem with hoarding is accessing the exterior of the home.  From collections in the back yard to side yard full of belongings gaining access can be a hazardous.  Using some of the above mentioned tactics can be used, but also using ground ladders to stabilize the outside belongings may also be used. Laying it on top, to the side, or a combination of both can be used to make pathways of access.  Removing of privacy fencing of other barriers may be necessary to make this achievable due to the fact that they often use them to “Hide” their hoard.

You may also choose to use a salvage cover in combination with grounds ladders to make a stable environment as well.  Much like a ladder chute, to collect water, you can use two ladders and a salvage cover to make pile of belongings more stable to walk around, or worst case, climb over.   Climbing over these massive amounts of material can be challenging even with chutes and ladders to help offer stability.

 

Conclusion

From stabilizing the piles to maneuvering around them entering a hoarded environment offers man challenges.  Taking the time to stabilize the pile will allow you a greater level of safety as your exit routes will stay clearer.  One thing needs to be remembered when crawling in, your way out may become blocked, no matter how hard you try.  Using the paths to fight a fire or access a patient is a “best practice” when dealing with hoarding.  Getting creative and using some technical rescue skills will also allow you to enter and exit safely.  Remember that unless you practice these you WILL NOT be proficient at them.  Add some of these recommendations to your next drill and see if you can stabilize the stacks……..
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Hoarder Home: If you see something, say something!

Welcome back into the chamber of hoarders.  After some time away we are back and well into summer preparing emergency responders to face the challenges of compulsive hoarding disorder environments.  This week we are going to look back at a training topic that we have visited before, with a new twist.  It is vitally important to allow firefighters to communicate their findings on each response; this is even truer when faced with massive amounts of clutter found inside hoarder homes.  From pulling on scene to making a interior attack, each and every firefighter should be taught what to say, who to say it too, and how to say it when a hoarding environment is suspected.  Example, “ interior to command we are experiencing Heavy Content”, “command received.”  Often this is where this line of communication ends, not allowing incoming units or firefighters that didn’t receive this message aware of the potential for danger.  It’s time for us to change how we process, receive, and announce situations.

 

[caption id="attachment_388" align="alignright" width="275"]Courtesy of Oxford Pa Fire Department Courtesy of Oxford Pa Fire Department


Firefighter Level

Being the eyes and ears of the responders is a role that each firefighter should be given.  Constantly scanning, evaluating, and searching for potential dangers should be trained on until they become automatic. During this training is where we should introduce them to cues and clues that a hoarding situation is present.



Here are a few:

  • Blocked doors and Windows

  • Cluttered yards or Porches

  • Cars Full of Belongings


If you encounter any of these situations a message should be transmitted to command.  Announcing the presence of hoarding conditions will put everyone in a more defensive mindset and allow the commander to call for additional resources.  Extra manpower, more apparatus, and needed rehab sector are all areas that need reinforced when dealing with hoarder conditions.  If the IC doesn’t know they need them, why would they call for them?  Make the call, even if you are wrong.  If they are not needed they can be released and returned to service.

 

 

 

Incident Commanders

Being in command of a fire when the announcement of heavy contents is made requires some direct actions.  First action is to communicate the findings to the dispatch center to share the message with everyone responding and on scene. Second action is to call for more help.  With hoarding conditions firefighters air consumption will be greater, thus lowering their work time and will need a longer rehab period because of the stresses placed on them while working in these overloaded spaces.  Knowing this a commander should request additional units to respond to the scene. Third action should be a second rapid intervention team.  If a firefighter is inside and experiences a Mayday, it will require a larger number of firefighters to access and remove them.

A good rule of thumb for any commander is the rule of doubles.  If you discover hoarding double the number of firefighters, RIT team members, and double the rehab time allowing your firefighters to adequately recover from the larger workload. The worst thing that you could do is place your firefighters into a stressful environment and not allow them time to recover before going back.

Conclusion

If you see something, say something!

If you hear something, Dispatch Something!

 

If you allow your firefighters to make the announcement of a potential hoarding situation it will allow all commanders to use the rule of doubles and call for the help needed.  Hoarding can place us all at a greater risk do to the compression of belongings that has taken years to accumulate.  Make the adjustments if you are faced with these conditions and make sure we all go home!
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