"Tempe Cesspool for the Arts"

aka "Tempe Center for the Arts"

Zoning tyrants at work!!!!

Southeast Valley cities trying to squelch hoarding hazards

  Our government rulers tell us they are "public servants" but from this article it looks like these self proclaimed "public servants" are really "royal rulers" who want to micro-manage our lives, so their job of being firefighters, medical technicians and cops isn't too difficult.

We can live our lives any way we want as long as we don't make their job of being a "public servant" too difficult.

If Thomas Jefferson and George Washington were around today, I think they would tell us it's tyrants like these folks that made them write the Second Amendment.


Southeast Valley cities trying to squelch hoarding hazards

by Jackee Coe - Sept. 12, 2012 12:14 PM

The Repbulic | azcentral.com

Take a step through the front door. It isn't pretty.

You are greeted by towers of empty cans and bottles. Mounds of trash frame the entryway and fill the rooms. Stacks of paper, floor to ceiling, create a potentially deadly maze.

Welcome to the world of a hoarder, at home in a perilous, twisted environment.

The risk of fire is heightened in the home of a hoarder -- there's more fuel, easily combustible, that burns hotter and faster -- and people are dying in them, at least a half-dozen in Tempe alone.

Others could be in peril, too. First responders must navigate the mess during a fire or medical emergency.

Firefighters, medical technicians or police officers could be trapped in declining visibility, or they could be hit by falling debris as they search for or tend to those who might be inside.

Fire departments across the Southeast Valley are being called more frequently to these homes, so many that first responders now are undergoing special training for them.

"We attack them very aggressively," Phoenix Fire Department Capt. Scott McDonald said. "We try to use more resources to mitigate them quicker because it is much more work.

"We've had a lot of success with that."

When firefighters from the Tempe, Chandler, Gilbert, Mesa and Phoenix fire departments respond to a home with excessive clutter, they put a "premise alert" on the address in their dispatch systems, fire officials said.

When future calls come in for the address, the alert warns firefighters that the home may be a hoarding house.

"When you enter a home that's on fire, you have reduced visibility, if no visibility conditions," said Gilbert Fire Department Capt. Mike Connor said. "Now, when you have basically stuff all over, it becomes an entrapment hazard. ... The potential to get lost or trapped in a fire greatly increases when you put hoarding conditions inside of a home."

Tempe Fire Inspector Mike Reichling said the department tracks suspected hoarder homes so firefighters know of them in advance.

Firefighters pass the address on to Tempe's code-enforcement officers if there is clutter in the front or back yards, and to Care 7, the city's counseling and social-services program, so officials can reach out to the residents and offer help cleaning up.

Hoarding has become such a hazard for firefighters that some departments in the Southeast Valley -- Gilbert and Tempe leading the way -- are offering training on battling blazes at homes filled with animals and debris.

In March 2010, the Arizona Hoarding Task Force was created to educate, prevent and rehabilitate those afflicted with residential hoarding, a behavior disorder.

The task force defines hoarding as "acquisition of, and failure to discard, a large number of possessions that appear to be useless or of limited value."

"We don't have the jurisdiction to tell them how they live but we have to suffer the consequences of their living behaviors," Reichling said. "We try to get them help through ... education, counseling, through Care 7. It's the only option we have."

Hoarders are incapable of throwing anything away, according to Kristen Scharlau, Care 7 program coordinator. It is similar to obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Hoarding disorder cannot be remedied quickly or easily because the person first has to acknowledge the problem and choose to deal with it, and then work through the issue that caused it, she said.

Scharlau says Care 7 wants to help people understand the dangers that excessive clutter creates for them and for first responders, and offer them help.

"Our approach is one of concern for the resident and giving them options," she said. "Options range from, 'You don't have to do anything' to 'We can have somebody out here to help you with this today.' You have to gently guide people and help them see what the best decision is (for them), but it's not our job to force them."

Chandler, Gilbert and Mesa also pass along the addresses of cluttered homes to their social-services departments.

Anita Mapes, social-services coordinator with the Mesa Fire Department, said the department avoids labeling someone whose home has extreme clutter as a "hoarder" because there are several other possible reasons, such as extra family members moving in or economic difficulties making them unable to afford a storage unit.

Gilbert Fire Marshal Dan DuBois said these can be delicate situations because the homes are private property and clutter often is a sensitive subject for people. The department simply wants to make it a safer environment for first responders and residents.

"We've been pretty fortunate," DuBois said. "Most people are pretty open and they realize they kind of do have an issue. They're trying to do something about it but they just have a hard time.

"So we work side-by-side with them to try to get it down to a manageable level." Hoarding resources and assessment

The International OCD Foundation Hoarding Center offers information, resources and questionnaires to determine if you or someone you know has a hoarding problem, including a five-question rating scale.

Information: www.ocfoundation.org/hoarding/ .

The Arizona Hoarding Task Force is dedicated to the education, prevention and rehabilitation of the complex behavioral disorder of residential hoarding. It is a statewide resource for those affected by hoarding, and for keeping the health, safety and dignity of the individual a priority.

Information: azhoarding.com/.

Republic reporter Laurie Merrill contributed to this report.


Tempe Center for the Arts

Tempe Cesspool for the Arts