Hoarding can cause higher risk of fire, says emergency service


- Credit: Archant

Hoarding can pose a fire risk for property owners and neighbours, Essex County Fire and Rescue Service has said.

There are more than 170 hoarded properties on its list in the county.

The service is raising awareness as part of 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 two to five percent of people are affected by hoarding.

Louise Curtis of the 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. 

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“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.”

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 
  • Avoid using candles or naked flames in the home
  • Keep the hob clear
  • Avoid smoking in the home