Fire Fighter Education
Hoarding poses increased fire safety risks as hoarded items often include combustibles — such as reading materials or clothing. Hoarded materials may also impede escape in the event of fire and can impair first responder entry, navigation and exit. Hoarding is identified by the American Psychiatric Association as a mental disorder characterized by the accumulation of clutter to the point where it interferes with the functional use of the home. Between two and six percent of the general population, those people who are awake and take a proactive role in self-sufficiency, is claimed to suffer from the hoarding disorder.
Mental Health Hoarding Disorder
An effective intervention into a hoarding situation by fire departments and community agencies can be difficult. Residents may:
- Be embarrassed about their behavior.
- Lack the organizational skills to make necessary changes.
- Be overly attached to belongings.
- Lack insight into dangers posed by hoarding.
- Revert to the same behavior if moved to a new location.
- Reject the authority of enforcement officials.
City of Vancouver’s HART Hoarding Intervention Team
The City of Vancouver has formed a multi-agency Hoarding Action Response Team (HART) comprised of fire and property inspection departments, along with mental health workers from the city’s health department. Their purpose was to build a coordinated intervention whenever hoarding cases were identified.
Upon referral, a fire inspector and health official will:
The team will also make referrals for social, health and mental health resources. Health workers may assist by:
- Advocacy with landlords.
- Engaging social services.
- Helping the resident set manageable weekly goals.
- Educating family members and the resident about hoarding.
Hart Intervention Takeaways
Many of you may be unaware that all properties are required to have a global/federal asset code attached to them if you have potential to make $1000, not that you are making $1000 at your property. This includes apartment and condominium owners as well for you certainly could have a little startup business in your home.
When you do stock up with preparations you do need to learn how to manage those preparations. That is part of the art of wisdom of this Preparedness Skill-Set. My concern is that there are certain Executive Orders at all levels of government ready to unload your hoarded supplies as an asset of the government. There is no doubt, that our current laws and regulations have made that threat very real to your family.
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Going where angels fear to tread...
Celeste has worked as a contractor for Homeland Security and FEMA. Her training and activation's include the infamous day of 911, flood and earthquake operations, mass casualty exercises, and numerous other operations. Celeste is FEMA certified and has completed the Professional Development Emergency Management Series.
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Celeste grew up in a military & governmental home with her father working for the Naval Warfare Center, and later as Assistant Director for Public Lands and Natural Resources, in both Washington State and California.
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Kowk, N., Bratiotis, C., Luu, M., Kysow, K., Woody, S., Lauster, N. (2018). Examining the role of fire prevention on hoarding response teams: Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services as a case study. Fire Technology: 54 (1), pp 57-73. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10694-017-0672-0