Hoarding

Hoarding Education and Action Team (HEAT) 

The Hoarding Education and Action Team (HEAT) provides comprehensive services and increases the safety for those afflicted and impacted by hoarding.

It is estimated that one in 25 people in Greater Victoria is directly affected by hoarding, which is defined as the excessive collection of items, along with the inability to discard them.

The HEAT partnership includes the Victoria and Saanich Fire Departments, Island Health, SPCA, municipal services, concerned non-profit organizations, landlords, volunteers, and private de-cluttering services. Local fire departments are frequently the first point of contact for hoarding issues, but effective help can be hampered by the complexity of hoarding situations.

Contact HEAT
If you or someone you know is in need of support, please call the Hoarding Education and Action Team at 250.361.0227 or visit their website for more information.

Hoarding Peer Support Group Meetings

The Hoarding Education and Action Team (HEAT) offers a drop-in, peer-support group now twice a month to help people overcome clutter issues.

Learn more about this non-judgmental, supportive peer group, where members can share their struggles, strategies and victories with other community members. The group is facilitated by peers who share their tips and tools for dealing with the emotional and physical aspects of a cluttered home. Additional support from clinical staff of Island Health (HEAT members) is available when appropriate.

If you (or a family member, friend or neighbour) are struggling with clutter, and would like to see what this group can offer, please join us.

2017 Meeting Dates
The peer support group meets the second and fourth Wednesday of the month from 3 p.m. - 4:30 p.m. at Royal Jubilee Hospital, Eric Martin Pavilion, 2334 Trent Street, Room 601b on the following dates:

  • January 11 and 25
  • February 8 and 22
  • March 8 and 22
  • April 12 and 26
  • May 10 and 24
  • June 14 and 28
  • July 12 and 26
  • August 9 and 23
  • September 13 and 27
  • October 11 and 25
  • November 8 and 22
  • December 13

For more information, please contact Dr. Eric Ochs eric.ochs@viha.ca.

Or call the HEAT hotline at 250.361.0227.

About Hoarding

Hoarding is an issue that people have become more aware of over the years. There are different reasons why and how individuals come to hoard or collect objects to the point that their living spaces are taken over by possessions. The Fire Department is often made aware of potential hoarding situations from landlords, friends, family, neighbours, or other agencies.  We are concerned with these cases due to the risk of fire and life safety to occupants, the potential for fire to expand beyond the property, and the potential risk to emergency personnel that may be required to respond there. 

Fires that occur in residences where there is an over accumulation of property are very difficult to put out. Not only does the over accumulation of occupants make it very difficult for the tenants escape due to blocked exit passages, but fires also grow much faster and the intensity is much higher than that of regular fires.

If you are concerned that a friend/ family member/ neighbour may be collecting too many possessions that are putting them at risk, you can contact the Fire Prevention Division and we will send an inspector to the property to perform an evaluation. Our main concern at this evaluation is to make sure that there are no immediate fire hazards. 

For example, we check to see there is a working smoke alarm, that there is adequate clearance to combustibles (no items stacked on stoves or heaters), we look for electrical hazards, and evaluate exit passageways. Once immediate concerns are addressed, and if the accumulation of property is found to be high, the inspector will then work with the individual and start a schedule for de-cluttering. Every case is different, and our inspectors may call on other resources to assist individuals in need if required.