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. He 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.