Press release

Saving lives beyond blue lights

Di Pasfield

Meet Di Pasfield, Safeguarding Officer at Essex County Fire and Rescue Service

Essex County Fire and Rescue Service (ECFRS) save lives everyday. But not all the emergencies dealt with by the fire service involve a 999 call and blue lights. The ECFRS’s Safeguarding Team provide life-saving help and support to thousands of Essex residents who are often facing life-threatening challenges or situations in silence.

In 2023, the fire service received 1709 Safeguarding referrals, 1452 of these had hoarding concerns.

Safeguarding Officer Di Pasfield from Essex County Fire and Rescue Service said:

“Dealing with hoarding is a major part of our work. We receive referrals from many different agencies, including Social Care, the Ambulance Service, care agencies and also from our own firefighters.

“My role as a Safeguarding Officer is more than just visiting people in their homes and giving them advice on how to live more safely. We want to build a trusted relationship with the resident so we can understand the root cause of their vulnerability. Every visit is different, and we tailor our advice to the person and their circumstances. 

Di explain what a typical day is for a Safeguarding Officer:

“A lot of my work involves talking to other specialist organisations and care providers, and I will often be asked to provide support and advice to specialist safeguarding working groups.

“My day-to-day work is very varied. No two cases are the same, some are extremely complex and present with significant and/or imminent risks.”

Safeguarding Officers visit people in their homes, Di explains what the visit entails:

“During our visit, we always ensure smoke alarms are working. But we also use the opportunity to understand the “why”. Every interaction has the potential to make a difference and mitigate the risks of abuse, neglect, harm and hidden harm.

“It’s not our job to force people to change their environment or their behaviours, it’s about talking to the person to help them to understand behavioural risks and working with them to determine what we can do to make sure they’re safeguarded.”

“Hoarding can be distressing and dangerous. But it’s not just a matter of ‘too much stuff’ – it’s a complex condition that requires careful, targeted help.”

The issue with hoarding is a concern for the fire service because high levels of clutter makes it much easier for a fire to start and creates a greater risk of the fire spreading. This increases the risk of injury and death to the occupant as well as a greater risk for firefighters tackling the blaze.

When asked about how she feels about her role as a Safeguarding Officer, Di said:

“I actually feel quite honoured that I get to help people who might not accept help from other agencies or may be subject to hidden harm. It’s a privilege that they let me into their homes, their personal spaces, and are accepting of my advice on how they can live more safely. Sometimes people who hoard don’t let anyone into their homes, even their family or friends, so when I get invited in, I feel proud of working for the fire service that has such a well trusted reputation, it’s what gets us through the door.

“I genuinely love my job. I get to meet so many wonderful and interesting people and I feel like my role really matters. 

This week is National Hoarding Awareness Week. The fire service is asking people with hoarding issues; or their friends and family, to get in contact and arrange a home safety visit.

The visit will give the fire service a chance to check smoke alarms, install new alarms if needed and discuss any safety issues.

Every resident in Essex is eligible for a free home safety visit. Book online: or call: 0300303 0088.

For more information about hoarding visit:

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