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MFB warns of hoarding dangers

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25 Jun 2009
Following a fatal house fire over night, the MFB is reminding the community about the fire dangers associated with hoarding in the home.

The renewed call comes after an elderly man died in an Ascot Vale house fire overnight.

The cause of the fire is being investigated. This was the fifth hoarding fire in the Metropolitan Fire District in ten days.

Hoarding is the accumulation of a large number of items which appear to have no apparent use or purpose. Hoarding results in rooms which can no longer be used for the purpose for which they were intended and can result in significant impairment in the affected person.

Hoarding increases fire risk due to accumulation of items which results in an abnormally high fuel load and greater opportunity for ignition. Blocked exits and narrow internal pathways severely hinder escape for the occupant and access for firefighters.

Commander Frank Stockton said the MFB is committed to addressing the high incidence of fires in homes where hoarding is evident.

“Fires in hoarding homes account for 24 % of fire fatalities since 2000.

“Due to the high fuel load contained in hoarding households, they represent an increased risk to the occupant, neighbouring properties and firefighters. Additionally, people affected by hoarding experience a range of health, safety and welfare issues,” he said.

The MFB is currently engaged with government and a range of community services stakeholders to address the range of needs of this group, including their high fire risk.

The MFB recommends the following actions be prioritised for people affected by hoarding:

  • Installation of smoke alarms to provide vital time to escape.
  • Unblocking exits.
  • Widening internal pathways in the home.
  • Reconnection of utilities, such as gas and electricity, if these have been disconnected.

More information on winter fire safety can be found at www.mfb.vic.gov.au

For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact the Media and Communications Department on (03) 9665 4452 or media@mfb.vic.gov.au

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