A Fire Marshals comments to news crew at fatal fire brings back bad memories of what happened at a clients apartment building. A look at Hoarding

 A recent news article and fatal fire here in Penn Hills brought chilling words from the Fire Marshal Chuck Miller of the growing problem of people Hoarding

I will never forget getting the call from my customer on the  chilly morning of  March 16th, 2001  I got a call from my customer Brian Barcic his Fieldbrook Apartment building was on fire.
as we stood out back as Mt Lebanon firefighters put out the fire and secured the scene on the 2nd floor . It was then that we started seeing firefighters throwing pile after pile after pile of newspapers and magazines out of the 2nd floor apartment window  which had caught fire

The problem the women was a hoarder and had the apartment filled with newspapers to 4 ft high with only place to sit down was small place in kitchen and bathroom. Even thou alarms activated and she tried to escape her junk filled apartment and Mt Lebanon Firefighters  and medics did there best to save her life  She would pass away from smoke damage to her lungs. Brian felt bad but the way tenant privacy rules are written he had no power to just go in and inspect a unit. He now has it in his lease that apartments are to be inspected annually to try and head something like this off at the past and Mt Lebanon also put into effect new rules to try and prevent this from happening again.
But there are those who say leave them alone and mind your own business let them live like they want to.

Yes hoarding is becoming a major problem and only getting worse I saw it all the time when I served as a firefighter. and it is these cluttered junked up homes  and apartments which are becoming fire traps, and frequently become death traps when a fire does start as owners and tenants can not escape.

One of the worst cases of hoarding  involved a set of brothers in New York City who ended up dying in the death trap they created  .

I have a neighbor whose brother lives down the street and his home is a fire trap the parents are dead and he lives by himself in a pig sty ,as you can see in the pictures above . 
Often mental health issues come into play and those who hoard often become hermits who disapear from society and simply want left alone. 
I have spent many hours cleaning up these types of places after the owners have passed and its disgusting and you must take hazmat precautions. 
How ccan any one live like this ? who knows .What can you do if you suspect hoarding? not much you can contact Code Enforcement Officials.who can make them clean up and if they are seniors local area on aging office or similar senior advocate who may be able to help.
But unless agency's are willing to get involved or until the time the person is considered a harm to them selves or the community not much can be done. You will just keep hearing more and more about these cases. The  earlier you can find out a relative or friend is doing it the easier it is to get the help nd treatment.
Also remember there is a difference between cluttered and people being pack rats . while there homes may not be the most orderly or best house keepers  they are not obstructing with items to point you can not get thru rooms and hallways.


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