Here are the results of the recent Hoarder fire survey sent out by the Chamber of Hoarders Staff. Huge “thank you” to the USFA for sharing survey with the fire service community. The response was overwhelming.
CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) - We have an update on what McKamey Animal Center has called the worst animal hoarding fire this area has ever had.
Dozens of cats died when an East Brainerd home burned Saturday.
Chattanooga firefighters say piles of clutter made getting to the fire a challenge in a house filled with at least 50 cats. They also say fecal matter covered the home. Now McKamey Animal Center is investigating to determine if animal abuse and neglect charges will be filed.
A family of four rent the Elaine Trail home in East Brainerd. The husband, wife and two sons escaped the fire unharmed, but dozens of their cats didn't.
"The majority of the cats died in the fire. We now have 17 survivors," McKamey Animal Center Director Karen Walsh said.
Those surviving cats are now quarantined at McKamey Animal Center undergoing treatment. Many are singed, shaking, and in shock after firefighters pulled them out from piles of clutter inside the burning home.
"Suffered from heat and from soot and some of them from the water. Some of them got singed. A few were burned, but they were also breathing in that smoke as well," Walsh said.
The Chattanooga Fire Department ruled the fire accidental, possibly electrical, but animal control is doing it's own investigation for animal abuse and neglect.
"Sometimes these cases aren't prosecutable. They're more of someone who needs help," Walsh said.
In Chattanooga, you're required special permits if you have more than seven cats. This family did not have those permits. Walsh says it's impossible to take care of 50 cats and that the fecal matter throughout the home likely played a role in the fire spreading so quickly.
Story from Wrcbtv.com
Hoarder Homes: Piles of Hazards for Firefighters
Monday January 14, 2012
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One of the common problems that you can encounter, if you choose to perform an interior attack, on a fire with hoarding conditions, is the punishment that your Personal Protective Equipment will face. Mountains of belongings offer many hazards to firefighters when a fire has occurred. Let us look at one perspective of fighting hoarder fires, let us look at the PPE perspective as these fires can push it to the limits.
As a hoarding problem begins, the levels of belongings inside a person’s house begin to pile up higher and higher. Eventually, if uncorrected, the stacks of stuff will be at waist level or above. This is where the problems face by firefighters is compounded by the height of the stacks. If you are faced with a manageable fire, choose to go interior, and begin your assault you may find that a firefighter can be raised upwards of two or three feet off the ground towards the ceiling. This practice is generally not recommended, as you may not know what types of debris you are crawling over and the weight of the firefighter could collapse the pile. However, if you choose to crawl over these piles, which commonly occur, you are exposing yourself to temperatures that can be well over two hundred degrees hotter than floor level.
Today’s fire science teaches us that for every six inches you can see a raise in temperature of one hundred degrees. If you choose to crawl over a pile of belongings, you are raised feet not inches. You must consider this danger before starting the climb. Fire conditions, spread, and smoke conditions will all factor into your decision. Remembering that smoke is where the fire is going, not where it is at, is a great way of looking at this. If you encounter thick, black, turbulent smoke pushing out of your choice of entry you may be exposed to flashover type risks with one exception, your two feet higher. Anyone who has been to a flashover chamber knows that this is NOT where you want to be.
What temp was this?
Another contributing factor to punishment of your PPE in hoarder fires is the exposure to increase steam burns. The compression of belongings inside this type of environment makes for harder to reach, deeper seeded, sometimes smoldering type of fires. This makes it nearly impossible to reach the seat of the fire, especially if you are crawling from another room that is filled. This means that a fog, or steam, indirect attack may be your only choice. If you choose to use the smaller droplets of a fog stream to fill the room and attack the fire you may not want to be inside that room as the conversion can come down right on top of you, with the one exception, that you are 2 feet closer to the ceiling. Even the best designed turnouts have their limits and if you are on the top of a pile you may be finding yours while in a situation that is not easily escaped from.
Here are a few Chamber tips to help reduce exposure:
Fighting fires inside hoarding conditions can be one of the most challenging fires you will ever face. The thermal protection performance of your turnouts has been chosen for us and has its limits, by keeping your PPE’S limitations in mind it will help you prepare for the fight ahead. Properly sizing up the fire and choosing the attack method will add to the chances of a safe, effective fireground. All decision’s should be made knowing that your crews have the potential to see a hotter fire that needs aggressive ventilation before entering.
As the news came in from Maryland’s recent Hoarder fire, the images began to surface. Their choice of High Expansion foam made for some amazing video. The images looked like someone had put the bubble bath into a hot tub and left it on for hours. Using foam while battling a hoarding condition can be one of the best solutions to the problem. One drawback is getting the foam on top of the piles of debris; this is where the high expansion foam comes in as it keeps filling the rooms until everything is covered.
If you do not have access to this type of foam or foam at all, you may need to reach deep into your bag of tricks to pull out an oldie but goodie nozzle, the bressnan cellar nozzle! You know the nozzle that ISO has made sure we all have on our engines for years. This type of nozzle has a great use in fighting hoarder fires. The 360 degrees of water sprayed in small droplets will absorb heat and soak the entire area around it; one problem is how to get it above the hoard that is where we need to get creative.
Here are a few points in using a cellar nozzle:
These are a few quick tips on using a cellar nozzle while dealing with a hoarder fire. Notice one common point; we are not in the room when it goes in service. A cellar nozzle uses the reduced airflow to “steam” the fire out. This attack has the potential to push your PPE to its’ thermal limit. Today’s PPE has better thermal protection than ever but steam burns can be some of the most troubling. Set the nozzle in place then back out before it goes in service to help protect from steam burns. Once it has been operating for a few minutes watch for signs of knockdown such as white steam and changing smoke conditions and prepare to start the overhaul process.
[caption id="attachment_181" align="alignright" width="140"] Photo: Sheperdstown WV Fire Dept.
To add in the effectiveness of a cellar nozzle you should leave all the windows and doors in place as it will add to the steaming of the fire. Thinking of hoarder fires as confined space fires with reduced airflow will put you in the mindset of using those types of tactics, especially if an interior push cannot be made. Just remember to review with your firefighters the need to pull out of a building if an interior push is blocked by hoarding conditions. Back them out, grab the cellar nozzle, and get creative! While it is in operation, you have time to order more resources and prepare to dig in!