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How firefighters are dealing with the safety challenges of hoarding

flickr user The National Guard

Imagine for a moment what it's like to be a firefighter rushing into a burning home. The smoke can be so thick you can't see your own hand in front of your face.

You're searching for survivors and trying to knock down that fire while doing your best to stay safe.

Now, imagine all of that happening in the home of a hoarder.

Michigan's firefighting community is working to meet the special challenges of hoarding.

Meredith Hawes is part of that effort. She's a regional education specialist for the National Fire Protection Association, formerly with the Grand Traverse Metro Fire Department.

Hawes organized a hoarding task force in Northern Michigan a few years ago. 

She joined us today to talk about what happens when there is a fire or a medical emergency in a hoarder's home, and what Michigan fire departments are doing to get out in front of this before there is a crisis. 

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