WILTSHIRE Fire & Rescue Service is supporting the first ever national UK Hoarding Awareness Week, which runs this week.

The campaign is being run by the Chief Fire Officers’ Association, and focuses on the risks to people who hoard.

Group Manager Kathy Collis, from Wiltshire FRS’s prevention department, said: “We all keep things we don’t really need. Some of us have more possessions than we have storage for. But hoarding is a complex issue that goes far beyond untidiness or indecisiveness.

Hoarders can fill entire rooms from floor to ceiling, leaving themselves the minimum space in which to live. This retention of property presents a real fire risk, and makes it far harder for firefighters to be able to tackle any blaze.

“We are therefore encouraging anyone who knows a hoarder to work with us to find ways of reducing that risk.”

When there is a fire in a hoarder’s home, there is a far greater risk that the individual and/or family members will find it difficult or impossible to escape.

Common things kept by hoarders include newspapers, magazines, books and soft furnishings – all of which are highly combustible and the presence of vast amounts of hoarded material creates a risk to firefighters, both in getting to the fire and increased heat and smoke.