Thursday, October 1, 2009

Melbourne firefighters call for action on hoarding


ONE in four people killed in accidental house fires in Melbourne since 2000 has been a “compulsive hoarder”.

A new report shows compulsive hoarding, a mental health condition linked to the collection of large quantities of objects or animals, led to at least 48 serious house fires in Melbourne from 2000 to the start of this year.

And Metropolitan Fire Brigade community ageing strategist Julie Harris said another 16 “hoarding fires” had occurred since the report was finished.

Eleven people, all aged over 50, have been killed in hoarding fires since 2000 - representing about a quarter of deaths in accidental house fires.

The MFB report, An Analysis of Fire Incidents Involving Hoarding Households, found hoarding fires happened right across Melbourne and had a great impact on firefighting resources...

...The RSPCA has also taken a lead role in pushing for more government leadership on the issue.

RSPCA Victoria senior inspector Ali Jalbert said animal hoarding led to appalling conditions for animals.

She said many agencies encountered the problem, but more needed to be done to unify their approach. Clinical psychologist and hoarding expert Chris Mogan said the condition was “unrecognised and untreated”.

“It’s a psychological condition based on a different relationship with things – hoarders think differently about objects and possessions and sometimes animals,” he said.

The behaviour has been linked to conditions such as obsessive-compulsive disorder, Dr Mogan said.

“We don’t really know exactly what causes it; there are some factors like personality factors, that need to hang on to everything,” he said..." More

Link: An Analysis of Fire Incidents Involving Hoarding Households

Picture: Mitch Bear