Crawling Through Filth

Good evening from the Jumpseat. Yeah, here on the East Coast it is late in the night and I would like to share an experience that happened here in my local area. Since I have started the research into the world of hoarders I have had the honor of sharing many different stories of responses.

From EMS incidents to working structure fires with entrapped victims the stories continue to blow me away, all the while providing for new areas of research. My first fire chief called me to relate a story of a hoarder fire. His response has taken my research to a whole new level and it was seen from the perspective of the first due crew hitting their knees to make entry and finding filth!

The short version of the story is that they responded to a reported structure fire in a mobile home. Upon arrival they found a manageable fire contained to the bedroom area. Once the first-due officer made this determination the crews prepared to enter with good visibility and then bam! They found a hoarded home at a Level 2. Hoarding is based on fives levels and this one was at a level 2. This meant they encountered piles at waist level. This was not the most concerning finding.

First due firefighters found large amounts of fecal matter! Yep, you guessed it, large piles of animal poo. Animal waste is often found inside hoarder homes and this one was a classic example.

Now that you have identified the problem what would you do? They pulled their pants legs down and went to work, just like we all would do. Not many times in our careers will we fight a fire in a "sanitary" house, so we need to be prepared to decontaminate our equipment and personnel once the fire is out.

Keep your eyes tuned to for an upcoming article on suggestion to deal with the "filth" encountered when facing hoarder conditions. A huge shout out to the members of the Institute Volunteer Fire Department for sharing their experiences with you and I. If you have a hoarder Story feel free to drop me a email

Bunker up, Buckle in, and remember that we all start in the jumpseat.