Free guide: Download NFPA's free guide on hoarding and the fire service (PDF), 930 KB
What is hoarding?
Hoarding is defined as collecting or keeping large amounts of various items in the home due to strong urges to save them or distress experienced when discarding them. Many rooms in the home are so filled with possessions that residents can no longer use the rooms as designed. The home is so overloaded with things that everyday living is compromised.
Why do people become hoarders?
Hoarding is a mental disorder that can be genetic in nature, triggered by traumatic events, or a symptom of another disorder, such as depression, obsessive compulsive disorder, or dementia. Studies have found that hoarding usually begins in early adolescence and gets worse as a person ages. It is more common among older adults.
Why is hoarding an issue for the fire service?
Sharon Gamache, Director of NFPA's High Risk Outreach Programs, talks about the fire dangers associated with compulsive hoarding. She also details several resources first responders can use when dealing with with someone with a hoarding issue.
Senior social services supervisor Dina Bagues was a presenter at "Effective Measure's to Prevent Fires and Other Injuries Among Those Who Hoard, Their Families, and Fire Fighters" - an education session at the 2012 NFPA Conference & Expo. In this interview, Dina offers some suggestions on how to deal with someone who hoards.
Judith R. Dicine was a presenter at the 2012 NFPA Conference & Expo, and talks about how firefighters can cope with the safety challenges of hoarding.