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Hoarding Fire Engineering Magazine
Photo courtesy of Fire Engineering Magazine

by NFPA's Lisa Braxton

The latest issue of Fire Engineering Magazine features an article about the dangers of hoarder fires. Writer Ryan Pennington points out that an often overlooked danger to firefighters is tackling the overhaul phase. After a fire has been knocked down, he says, research shows that many firefighters overexert themselves and are unaware of the dangers. Sifting through pounds of collected material can lead to respiratory problems, broken limbs, pulled backs, and even death. Hoarding InfoHe says that the overhaul phase can become more manageable with increased on-the-scene staffing, heavy machinery, and shorter work phases.

NFPA has a free guide about hoarding and issues for the fire service to be aware of. The document covers what members of the fire service can do when they become aware of a hoarding situation, how to talk to someone about hoarding, and some of the risks hoarding poses to the fire service.

More information on the topic is available on the Hoarding and Fire Safety page on the NFPA website.

Lightweight constructionFire sprinkler requirements for new homes in Crest Hill (IL) have been repealed by the community’s city council.

According to a report on, fire officials say the lack of a fire sprinkler system decreases the safety of future homes. Lockport Township Fire Chief Dave Skoryi said that city council's decision was unwise, and that the sprinkler systems are necessary for today’s homes.

Tom Lia from the Northern Illinois Fire Sprinkler Advisory Board said the Illinois Association of Realtors (IAR) and home builder groups presented the city with misinformation about the impact of fire sprinkler units in homes.

In the report, an official from IAR is quoted as saying that the cost of a fire suppression system is "a conservative $10,000 for a 3,000-square-foot building".

However, according to a recent national survey that looked at 51 homes in 17 communities, the average cost to install a sprinkler system is $1.35 per sprinklered square foot. That would put the price for a 3,000-square-foot home at $4,050.

Mr. Lia also stated that new lightweight construction and open construction designs are making homes susceptible to more dangerous conditions compared to older, lumber-based construction. Learn more about the dangers of lightweight construction under fire conditions.

Wyoming Fire Sprinkler CoalitionSeventeen minutes.

That's the amount of time it took for a recent fire, initiated by a malfunctioning dishwasher, to turn a Wyoming home from livable to uninhabitable. Firefighters from the Casper Fire Department, acting as tour guides, ushered interested parties through the building; children gasped upon viewing the destruction, while the firemen probed the parties about their knowledge of escape planning and smoke alarms.

The open house was also an opportunity to educate the public on how home fire sprinklers, had these devices been installed, could have led to a different outcome. Find out more by visiting the Fire Sprinkler Initiative blog.

Safety SourceThe July issue of Safety Source, NFPA's public education enewsletter, is now available for viewing. In this issue, you will find; 

  • Fire Prevention Week theme announced
  • Free FPW printable for kids
  • NFPA and local fire departments team up with Domino's Pizza 
  • 10-minute mini-lesson on carbon monoxide 
  • Carbon monoxide tip sheet updated. New Spanish CO tip sheet

Don't miss an issue! Sign up now and be the first to get the latest information on happenings in the public education division, activities, fire statistics, trends, educational tips, Sparky the Fire Dog® and more.

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