In February of 2012 NFPA published a journal article on hoarding – The Dangers of Too Much Stuff. It remains one of the top Journal stories, as it featured a topic that had long been a known threat in the fire service, but had recently captured the interest and fascination of Americans through popular television programs that took the public into very private situations of hoarding.
As a Regional Public Education Specialist, I have presented on this topic for several years, and the interest from the fire service has not yet waned. In fact, the interest has increased. In-depth questions now take up a large percentage of the presentation time as fire service professionals delve deeper into their leadership and commitment to hoarding task forces in their communities. Recently at the Michigan Fire Inspector Society's Conference, it was standing room only in 2 separate presentations, and lengthy conversations followed both sessions. News of those presentations and a similar one for the Michigan Fire Instructor Association’s Conference caught the media’s attention in Michigan as well. Both The Grand Rapids Press, and National Public Radio’s program host Cynthia Canty reached out to NFPA for more information.
The question is no longer “where do we go from here”? It is “how do we keep going from here?” In relation to hoarding task forces, dedicated staff, funding, and privacy issues are just a few of the topics that are up for discussion. Thankfully NFPA continues to keep a pulse on this complex, challenging and important topic. Educational material and resources continue to be available on the NFPA website and the Public Education Division remains devoted to help.