Hidden Hoarder

Good morning from the jumpseat!

Firefighters Venting at a California Hoarder House
Photo from Sdfirephotos.com

Often times when I tell folks that I have been researching fires in hoarding conditions and ask “how long does it take to find the conditions” , they respond with, not long.  Most folks seem to think that you will be able to find these condition from down the block.  This is often NOT the case.  Hoarders are reclusive in their nature and many feel shame or embarrassed due to their disorder.  Hoarding is a disorder that, for now, is attached to the Obsessive Compulsive group when diagnosing.  Many people realize that they have this condition and will go to great lengths to hide it. They will cover windows, block front door entrances, and do anything necessary to keep their hoard hidden.  That is, till they have an emergency, then in we go!

Many times the first responders are the first to discover Hoarding conditions.  Many times hoarders will not allow even their closets family members in to visit them.  When was the last time you ran a medical call and the patient was waiting outside and refused to let you in?  Not wanting to be “discovered” is also a common trait associated with the disorder.  People will go to great lengths to keep to keep us out fearing that we will make then discard some of their belongings.

So now that we have discussed the “Hidden Hoarder” how should we handle these situations?

  • We should always be “on guard” for these conditions
  • Should identify and communicate to all First Responders when discovered
  • Communication to commanders should happen immediately
  • Study the ques and clues of Hidden Behaviors

Hoarding can make a small fire a BIG problem and it’s my mission to help manage those risks.  Keep your eyes open for the potential “hidden Hoarder’ will help you make tactical and safety decision’s when facing piles of belongings.

Stay tuned as Views from the Jumpseat keeps preaching the message of Hoarding safety!


Bunker up, Buckle in, it’s where we ALL Begin!