GLOUCESTERSHIRE Fire and Rescue Service highlighted the hazards of hoarding in the home with a realistic rescue exercise at SkillZONE.
The safety education centre in Tuffley played host to the dramatic reconstruction of a room overloaded with possessions and at the centre of a house fire.
The scenario was set up to mark the inaugural Hoarding Awareness Week (19th to 25th May).
In the past financial year, three out of five fire-related deaths in the county involved hoarding. Firefighters are urging people to think twice about how they store their belongings and the dangers it can bring to the hoarder, their family and friends, and the emergency services.
Gloucestershire’s Chief Fire Officer Stewart Edgar said: “Hoarding poses a very real danger to our local communities as the nature of fire in a hoarded house is highly unpredictable and spreads much quicker.
“We want to use this week to raise awareness with residents and agencies, to highlight the fire hazards associated with hoarding and try to reduce those risks.”
Cllr Will Windsor-Clive, cabinet member for fire, planning and infrastructure, said: “In any fire the key for residents is to get themselves and their family to safety as quickly as possible – and clearly hoarding possessions makes this extremely difficult.
Every second counts when lives are in danger.”
Hoarding Awareness Week was devised by the Chief Fire Officers’ Association (CFOA) to increase understanding of issues relating to hoarding with the aim of making the community and firefighters safer.
Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue Service is calling on local people to get in touch if they know someone who may be vulnerable and at risk of fire because of hoarding, by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information on Hoarding Awareness Week, visit www.cfoa.org.uk/hoardingawarenessweek2014 and on twitter #UKHoardAware2014 is being used.