MFS Image - Hoarding - Kitchen A pathway to home fire safety for people that hoard

Fires in hoarding residences may be bigger, more intense and more difficult to control and extinguish due to the increase of items within their home. Due to this, fires in hoarding properties have lower survivability rates.

House fires are life threatening to the occupant and can cause significant financial loss. On average, 64 lives are lost each year in Australia in preventable house fires.*

Hoarding may occur in 2 - 6% of residences. In South Australia, that could be between 15,000 and 45,000 properties. Victorian research showed that the fire fatalities that occurred in their State, 24% where within hoarding properties.*

PATH Program 

The MFS PATH Program is here to assist you in working with people that hoard to reduce the risk of fires in their home.

The MFS can provide a fire risk assessment tool, the Hoarding Fire Risk Scale (HFRS) that when completed, can give an indication of the overall fire risk a person is living with.

The PATH program can assist:

  • In home service providers
  • In home care providers
  • Environmental Health Officers
  • Local council officers
  • Housing providers / managers
  • Individuals concerned about their own situation.

An MFS Firefighter can meet with you and your client to discuss how to reduce the risk of fire. These educational conversations with clients are followed up with a letter including recommendations.

Support through the MFS PATH Program is free and has its best outcomes when everyone is working together.

The actions you take contacting the MFS may reduce the fire danger in your client's home and may even save someone's life.

When to contact the MFS about the PATH program

Before contacting the MFS about your client being involved with the PATH program, we suggest you consider the following;

  • Are their genuine concerns that the risk of fire within their home may be too high?
  • Have you discussed fire safety with your client / the resident?
  • Is the occupant refusing to make changes to improve their fire safety?

If you answered yes to some or all of these questions, we suggest following the process below for managing the fire safety risks of your client.

  • If a rapport is not already established, initiate one with through visits and phone conversations.
  • Explain to them the dangers of fire that exist in their home.
  • If they don't respond to your advice, download and complete the Hoarding Fire Risk Scale (HFRS) form and discuss it with them.
  • Make an action plan with them to reduce their fire risk.
  • If this isn't effective, call the MFS to initiate the PATH program and arrange a combined home visit with yourself and your client.
  • At the visit, we will have an educational chat with your client.
  • A letter of recommendation will be sent to your client. You will also be provided with a copy.
  • Make an action plan from our recommendations with your client to reduce their fire risk.
  • We will follow up with you three and six months later to evaluate your clients progress living in a safer home.

"I really do appreciate the advice and education that I now use in practice with all of the properties I manage and particularly with the Hoarding and cluttered tenants…. No microwave goes unnoticed! Every person I visit is made aware of the impacts of preventative fire hazards and impacts of not only their lives but also those of the MFS attending access to a property.

The program that has been offered to us to utilise and bring an awareness into community housing and beyond is just priceless and I am so grateful I was able to be included in it."

Professional training – Hoarding: Through a firefighter's eyes presentation

We can deliver the MFS ‘Hoarding: Through a firefighter's eyes’ training presentation to your organisation. It is designed for professionals working in the community and covers a range of subjects including:

  • Early warning with smoke alarms
  • Clear access and egress for quick action
  • Reduction of ignition sources
  • Fuel load management.

To book the MFS Hoarding through a firefighter's eyes' training presentation, please complete the MFS Hoarding Awareness Training Request Form.

*Source: Bushfire & Natural Hazards CRC: Preventable residential fire fatalities in Australia July 2003 to June 2017.

Further information

To view a range of MFS fact sheets providing detailed advice on home fire and life safety issues visit our Fact Sheets page .

Hoarding: Non fire related referral list

There are many reasons why hoarding can increase the fire risk in a home. However, in some situations, the risks to the resident are not related to fire safety. The organisations on the Hoarding Non Fire Related Referral List may provide assistance or advice with other aspects of personal safety.


Interpreters are available free of charge on request.

For further information:


Phone: (08) 8204 3611

Country Callers: 1300 737 637

Want more:

Fire safety educational resources for adults, visit our Fact Sheets page.

Book a Home Fire Safety Presentation by the fire service to your group here.

Fire safety educational resources for children, visit our Teachers' Resources page.