Hoarding - fire safety information

High levels of clutter make it much easier for a fire to start. The clutter means that a fire has a greater risk of spreading, which increases the risk of injury and death.

Clutter can also make it very difficult to escape.

Clutter / hoarding - fire risks

Hoarding can create significant fire safety risks:

  • Fire can spread very quickly.

  • Smoke will develop much quicker.

  • You cannot easily escape if there is a fire.

  • You could easily become trapped in your home.

  • Hoarded combustible materials (such as newspapers, magazines, wood, books and flammable liquids) increase the risk of a fire.

Hoarding - fire safety tips

  • Whether you use a traditional oven and hob, or other methods of cooking like a portable stove, make it a priority to keep the cooking area clear.

  • Do not place items on, or close to heaters, lamps, or other electrical equipment.

  • Do not store gas cylinders in your home as they are a serious hazard during a fire. If you have a medical need for gas cylinders, you require oxygen for example, they should be kept upright and outdoors where possible. Do not store cylinders in basements, under stairs or in cupboards with electric meters/equipment.

  • If you smoke, use a proper ashtray that won't burn and put it on a flat, stable surface so that it can't fall over easily. Do not leave your lit cigarettes unattended.

  • Put candles or tea lights in heat resistant holders that hold the candle or tea light firmly. Ensure the holder is placed on a flat, stable, heat resistant surface. Keep candles and tea lights away from anything that can catch fire, and never leave them unattended.

  • Make sure you have a working smoke alarm and test it as part of your regular clearance sessions. You can contact Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service for advice.

  • Plan and practise how to escape from your home if there were a fire. Choose an escape route and keep it clear of possessions - in the event of a fire this will help you to escape quickly or allow firefighters to reach you if you are unable to escape.

  • Ensure possessions are stored on stable surfaces and do not stack items to a height that they become unstable - they could fall over blocking your escape.

  • Newspapers and mail stored in bulk are highly combustible and will cause a fire to spread rapidly. Sort mail and newspapers on the day you receive them and recycle them on a regular basis.

  • In the event of a fire, do not attempt to put it out yourself - leave your home straight away and call the fire & rescue service once you are safely outside. Do not stop on your way out to collect possessions and do not go back inside once you have escaped.

  • If you feel that you need some help or assistance with the above, there are many organisations that will support you through the process free of charge - for details, visit Help for hoarders (opens in new window) 

Carry out your own home safety check

Complete our online home safety check and you will get a personalised fire safety plan, which will offer advice on how to prevent fires in your home.

Do the online home safety check

Book a home safety check

Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service will fit free smoke alarms for people who are aged over 65 and for people who are referred to us by partner agencies because they are considered to be at a particular risk.

If you are over 65 years of age and you live in Cheshire, you can arrange for a Firefighter or a Community Safety Advocate to visit your home for a free home safety visit. During the home safety visit advice will be given on how to make your home safer, what to do in the event of a fire and what to do if you are trapped by a fire. Free smoke alarms will also be fitted (if needed) with an explanation on how to maintain them correctly.

Book a home safety visit for over 65’s 

Last updated: Thursday 15 April 2021

Related images

Hoarding at a property in Cheshire