Guest article from

 Good morning from the Chamber of Hoarders.  The stories from responses in hoarded conditions keep streaming in and there is a tactic that needs addressed.  Many times when a hoarded home is on fire the crews must switch to a defensive fire attack.  This is not new, but will be more complicated due to the amount of belongings inside the home.  It has been well documented that fire departments have called on salvage companies to bring in excavator’s to tear the building down. Without these machines the fire may burn for days or weeks.  With this in mind, do you have a demolishing crew in your speed dial.  What if they are needed at o’dark thirty on a sunday morning?  Let’s spend some time in the chamber to add another  tool in the tool box.  So back in the chamber we go…..
Tire Fire
Building after..
Pre-Plan For This Need 
In the fire service we all know the value of a Pre-Fire plan of our commercial and multi-family dwelling’s in our territory.  Have you ever thought about the need to plan for that low-frequency need that you may encounter?  You need to add one more special circumstances to this list.  A demolishing crew needs added  in case of a Hoarder Fire.  With the amount of stuff inside a hoarding environment the rapid fire spread can push firefighters out of the structure is a hurry.  Chosing to go defensive on a fire with these conditions is often a wise choice, even from the beginning.  A problem with the defensive attack is the inability to penetrate deep inside the structure to put out all the fire.
Once you have added gallons and gallons of water in a defensive operations the structure may not be stable enough to send firefighters inside.  Now what? This is where the Incident Commander has some decisions to make.  Is it safe to send firefighters in? Are we going to let it burn?  How are we going to get inside to put this fire out.  This is where often the decision is to bring the building down.  The density of the belongings inside will not allow the fire extinguished completely. One story that has been shared with the chamber’s crew, was an example of this, where the houses structural members including wall, roof, and roof trusses burn completely away leaving only the hoarded materials.   
So, now you have decided to demolish the building and you have decided to call in the wrecking crew.  Preparing for this occurrence should be handled before the fire happens for a couple of reasons.  One is who is going to pay for their services?  Often the fire department can be charged for these services unless your agency has access too these types of machines.  Second, this building is still on fire.  The operator needs to be aware and trained to coördinate the demolition with the hose streams. Using elevated streams will be a “best practice” and offer the operator a greater level of protection.  Another consideration for the operator is respiratory protection inside the cab.  One shift in wind or debris can make smoke conditions bad enough to harm the operator.  Training the operators in the use of an SCBA will be invaluable if this happens.
A good working relationship with these crews before the fire happen is key in a successful demolition of a building that is actively of fire.  Fire managers need to be aware of their available resources on any given day of the year.  Training these crews in the tactics used and protection equipment will prepare you both for a hoarder fire that needs demolished.  Reach out to your local business and ask about their services costs, call out numbers, and locations so you will be  #jumpseatready to demolish a house with fire that can’t be put out otherwise!

welcome to the jumpseat!

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