Fire Service warns against hoarding

Monday, 19th May 2014

Firefighters in Staffordshire are supporting a national campaign which aims to highlight the potential risks posed by hoarding.

The Service has produced a leaflet to coincide with National Hoarding Week which runs from May 19 to May 25. The pamphlet is aimed at the family and friends of people who collect and store a large number of items in their homes. They will be available at fire stations across Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent.

Head of Risk Reduction Glynn Luznyj said: “Since 2006 14 per cent of fatal fires in Staffordshire have involved hoarders. They face an increased risk of a blaze breaking out because they have a greater number of combustible materials in their homes. Because of this, if a fire did start, it would spread more rapidly.

“This leaflet aims to make the families and friends of people who collect lots of items more aware of the dangers. It is vital that occupants are able to get out of the property in the event of a fire so we would urge their relatives to identify an escape route with them and to keep it clear.

“This will not only help to keep them safer, it will also provide more protection for their neighbours as there will be less risk of a fire starting and spreading, not to mention the firefighters who would be responsible for putting the fire out and rescuing anyone who was trapped.”

The leaflet includes the following potentially life-saving advice on how people can help their loved ones to stay safe.

• Advise them to leave the property immediately in the event of a fire and never to attempt to extinguish it themselves.
• Encourage them to keep the cooking area clear from clutter.
• Tell them not to place items on, or near to, heaters, lamps or other electrical equipment.
• Ensure that cylinders are not stored in their homes as they are a serious hazard during a fire. If they have a medical need for cylinders, they should be kept upright and outdoors where possible. They should never be stored in basements, under stairs or in cupboards with electric metres/equipment.
• If they smoke, make sure they used a proper ashtray that won’t burn and that has been placed on a flat, stable surface so that it can’t tip over easily. They must never leave lit cigarettes unattended.
• If they use candles/tea lights ensure that they use heat resistant holders that support them firmly and that they are placed on a flat, stable surface. Keep them away from anything flammable and never leave them unattended.
• Newspapers and mail stored in bulk are highly combustible and will cause a fire to spread rapidly. Encourage occupants to sort mail and newspapers on the day they receive them and to recycle them on a regular basis.
• Check whether possessions are stored on stable surfaces and that items aren’t stacked to a height that they become unstable – they could fall over, blocking the escape route.
• Push the Button! – make sure they have working smoke alarms and that they test them every week.
• A FREE Home Fire Risk Check can help to reduce the risk of fire and help to keep a hoarder safe. A Home Fire Risk Check Technician will visit them in their home to give fire safety advice, discuss escape
• routes and fit free smoke alarms where required. An appointment can be made by calling 0800 0241 999.