Some communities have created hoarding task forces made up of mental health professionals and fire marshals to help address the problem. In Manchester, New Hampshire, in February 2014, firefighters said they had trouble getting through knee-deep clutter during a blaze that killed a 72-year-old in her home. “The front porch was loaded with things. The rear porch was loaded with things every room in the house, the stairway,” District Fire Chief Mark Pelletier told WMUR-TV. “Just picture that, trying to walk in that under normal conditions but with full gear on trying to stretch a hose line. It hampered us drastically.”
Privacy laws and red tape prevent government authorities from fully knowing or understanding the dangers of their buildings and neighborhoods. Fire departments can inspect commercial structures but are often powerless to check residences for hazards. They can’t just go in and tell someone to clean their apartment. Instead, they have focused on training firefighters for the potential for more intense heat and faster-spreading flames. The National Fire Protection Association offers a training session on hoarding and the firehouse.com has several training articles including “Hoarder Homes: Piles of Hazards for Firefighters.”
Communities from Maine to Arizona have created task forces to develop hoarding mitigation protocols. In some jurisdictions, the panels include mental and public health professionals.
“It’s a very tough thing to beat,” said Kristin Bergfeld, the founder of a company specializing in clearing hoarding cases. “As much as we can, we make sure somebody is in place to stay with the client and keep it going. That’s as simple as having someone come in every week to take out the recycling and trash to make sure the person doesn’t slide back and get in trouble.”
If you or somebody you know has a problem with clutter/hoarding, Bio-One can help.
Source: Press Herald