Fire Service raises awareness of hoarding disorder
Essex County Fire and Rescue Service is raising awareness of hoarding disorder as part of National Hoarding Awareness Week (17-23 May) a national campaign to safeguard people with hoarding tendencies.
Hoarding disorder is a recognised mental disorder and is defined as acquiring items and the inability to discard items, even though they appear to others as having no value.
In Essex, a number of partner agencies work together to identity and safeguard people with hoarding disorder as part of the Southend, Essex and Thurrock Safeguarding boards.
Nationally, around 2-5% of people are affected by hoarding and Essex County Fire and Rescue Service works with its partners to safeguard people living hoarded properties.
Hoarding can pose a significant fire risk to people living in hoarded homes as well as neighbouring properties. Essex County Fire and Rescue Service has more than 170 houses on its list of hoarded properties and works with residents to reduce their fire risk as well as with partner agencies to safeguard individuals and their families.
Louise Curtis, Community Builder in Essex County Fire and Rescue Service’s Community Safety team said: “National Hoarding Awareness Week is about keeping people safe and recognising when people are starting to show hoarding tendencies and where they can seek help and support.
“Many of us have been buying things we might not need during the lockdowns but for some people, these behaviours are part of a wider mental disorder and we’d encourage you to seek help if you or someone you know is showing signs of hoarding disorder.
“As well as a higher fire risk in the home, there are other concerns for people living in hoarded properties such as not being able to escape in an emergency, health concerns, loneliness and social isolation and we’d really like for people to seek support for themselves or their loved ones to keep each other safe.
“As a Fire Service, our role is to minimise the risk of fire and when we receive a safeguarding referral from a member of the public or a partner agency, we will visit the property and chat with the residents about how to minimise their fire risk. If you have concerns that you or someone you know could be at risk of a fire, please get in touch with us at essex-fire.gov.uk/book or call us on 0300 303 0088.”
If you care for someone living with a hoarding disorder, they are at a higher risk of fire due to the amount of possessions in their home. The chances that one of their possessions will come into contact with fire is higher and a fire can spread more rapidly if there are more possessions in the home.
To help minimise the risk of fire:
- Book a free home fire safety visit to discuss fire risks and ways to minimise them
- Ensure there are working smoke alarms to alert the household to a fire
- Avoid using candles or naked flames in the home
- Keep the hob clear
- Avoid smoking in the home
If you have concerns that you or someone you know could be at risk of a fire, please get in touch with us at essex-fire.gov.uk/book or call us on 0300 303 0088.
Page last updated 14 May, 2021