Government nannies demonize "hoarders" and "messy yard criminals".
I think they should shut the f*ck up and stop trying to micromanage the lives of their customers.
Maricopa County firefighters practice battling fires in hoarder homes
by Laurie Merrill - Mar. 16, 2012 10:38 PM
The Republic | azcentral.com
Hoarding is a private hell that becomes a public-safety hazard when a fire is involved.
Across Maricopa County, firefighters are preparing to battle the extremely hot, smoky blazes in homes stacked floor to ceiling with highly combustible debris.
One crew in Tempe fought four fires in hoarder-occupied homes in 2011. Phoenix firefighters quelled two blazes at the same hoarder-owned home last month. And the Chandler Fire Department battles two to three a year.
Scottsdale fire or emergency medical services responded to about 10 calls about hoarder-occupied homes last year, while Gilbert fought three fires and responded to two dozen other calls at hoarder-owned homes.
"We are seeing more hoarders," said Michael Young of the Glendale Fire Department. Glendale has seen a rise in EMS calls to hoarder homes but has not yet fought a hoarder fire, he added.
"It is just a matter of time because our crisis team is dealing with a lot more hoarders."
After battling two hoarder fires in as many months this year, the Tempe Fire Department recently began conducting drills in which firefighters battle simulated hoarder blazes.
Members of fire departments from as far away as Flagstaff have observed the drills with the idea of incorporating parts of them.
Prevalence of hoarding
Six people in Tempe and one in Scottsdale have perished in hoarder homes turned death traps in the last three decades, officials say.
Estimates range from one in 10 to one in six people being crippled by an inability to throw things away, said Donna Brower, a social worker and human-services coordinator for Scottsdale who is a member of the Arizona Hoarding Task Force. [So hoarders are very common. Per their numbers 10 to 16 percent of the population]
"Everyone knows a hoarder; they just don't know they know one," Brower said.
Their homes are filled with newspapers or empty cans, neatly stacked boxes or hastily piled clothing, typewriters, garbage or animals, among other things, said Deputy Chief Pat Bailey of the Tempe Fire Department.
The stacks of debris combined with the narrow passageways they form make for a uniquely difficult firefighting experience, Bailey said Thursday during a drill.
"The danger to us is increased fire load and how fast the fires spread," Chandler Battalion Chief Brad Miller said. "A lot of it is paper and magazines. You think how fast it catches on fire. Now you have 100 cubic feet of it."
The Arizona Hoarding Task Force, which started in Scottsdale in 2010, defines hoarding as "acquisition of, and failure to discard, a large number of possessions that appear to be useless or of limited value." [Of course "useless or of limited value" in in the eye of the beholder]
Living in shame
A thin line separates collectors from people with hoarding problems, Brower said. Hoarders live in shame and isolation, paralyzed by an inability to discard. [Really??? You are making these hoarders sound like they will cause the downfall of western civilization as we know it!!!] "Many have suffered a traumatic loss and have substituted inanimate objects and possessions in place of human caring and love," said Brower, whose team of social workers deals, in part, with hoarders.
The disease is more apparent in the elderly because of their greater number of things, said Linda Buscemi, a social worker and chairwoman of the task force.
Considered a kind of obsessive compulsion, hoarding will be designated a disease under the diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders in 2014, Brower said. Like other diseases, only motivated sufferers can change, she and Buscemi said. Simply removing the trash traumatizes them further, and they will only replace it as quickly as it was removed.
Spurred in part by reality television shows featuring people with the disease, an increasing number of people are reporting hoarders in the Phoenix region, Brower said.
One or two support groups are springing up, but overall, "there are not resources," said Brower, noting that big East Coast cities seem best-equipped for the problem. Funds are needed for counseling and medication, and if a cleanup is mandated, for the abatement and temporary shelter. [Translation - lets use hoarders as a scape goat to raise taxes so us firemen can get more money???]
Some cities are starting to keep track of homes occupied by hoarders to prepare better for emergencies and, when warranted, enforce codes. [Yes the messy yard laws are selectively enforced]
Jim Ford, fire marshal and deputy chief of the Scottsdale Fire Department, said the city can seek a court order until the home meets the "livability" standard. But that is difficult because "a man's home is his castle," he said. So these fire fighting twits now want to also run you life??? Look you jerks please stick to putting out fires. You are supposed to be public servants, not royal government rulers
Passageways must be wide enough for people to get to the kitchen and bathrooms. Toilets that become unflushable emit methane, which can level a city block if ignited, Brower said. [Yea, sure! Really level a whole city block??? Please cite some real cases]
Hotter, smokier fires
During a drill Thursday at the Tempe/APS Joint Fire Training Center, black smoke poured from windows and yellow flames licked walls as firefighters from four departments practiced battling the kind of hoarder fire they are facing with increasingly frequency.
Firefighters from Guadalupe, Mesa, Gilbert and Tempe participated.
In the simulation, three victims were trapped amid the boxes, and firefighters could not see. After carrying 55 pounds of equipment and crawling on their hands and knees to avoid the hotter parts of the fire, some firefighters were covered in sweat and exhausted after the drill.
"Firefighters are often completely blind in there," said Bailey, the Tempe fire deputy chief. "A lot of stuff falls on them. It becomes an extremely dangerous situation."