Hoarder Homes: Piles of Hazards for Firefighters

The definition of hoarding is accumulating a large number of possessions that have no apparent value. With today’s popular reality show that is spreading the message on this subject, we all are more aware of this type of situation. Hoarders are becoming...


A big concern with the overhaul of a hoarder house is the person’s connection to their belongings. The condition itself lends to the occupant not wanting to throw away any of their belongings. This could put us into a situation in dealing with owners. They may actually need to be removed from the fire scene in order to sort through the piles and extinguish the fire. While sorting through the belongings, remember the old adage that “one man’s junk, is another man’s treasure.”

Final Thoughts

Now that we have covered some of the concerns of fighting fires in hoarder homes, let’s take a quick review of what we have learned.

Hoarder homes are popping up in everyone’s district all across the country. Sooner or later you will be the one tasked with fighting these fires. These types of fires can be firefighter killers in an instant.

Having solid firefighting skills will help you when you are faced with a house full of stuff. Using one or more of the tactics discussed above will hopefully make it a little smoother or possibly save a firefighter’s life.

And, remember, when faced with this type of challenge, the best tactic may be not to go in! It’s one of the hardest decisions a firefighter will have to make.

RYAN PENNINGTON, a Firehouse.com Contributing Editor, is a firefighter/paramedic for the Charleston, WV, Fire Department. He is currently assigned to Station 8 and a member of the West Virginia Task Force 1 USAR team. He has over 17 years of combined fire, rescue and EMS experience. Ryan is currently a West Virginia State Instructor 2, Hazmat Technician, and Certified Fire Officer 2. Ryan has been guest on several Firehouse.com podcasts including: Training & Tactics Talk: Searching in the Modern Environment and  Engine Company Operations in Today's Buildings. View all of Ryan's articles and podcasts here. You can reach Ryan by e-mail at: Ryan33@suddenlink.net.