Firefighters in West Sussex are reaching out to deaf and hard-of-hearing people across the county to ensure they have effective smoke alarms in place.
Figures show that more than 900,000 people in the UK are severely or profoundly deaf and would be unable to hear an ordinary smoke alarm at night.
Now, as part of Deaf Awareness Week, which runs until Sunday, the West Sussex Fire & Rescue service is reminding residents right across the area that they should ensure they fit and test the right smoke alarms for those who suffer from hearing loss in their homes.
A range of alarms have been designed and created specifically for the hard of hearing, including an under-pillow pad that vibrates when the smoke detector is activated.
The fire service said that these specialist alarms can save lives, alerting people to a fire in their home even if they remove their hearing aid at night.
Where appropriate, West Sussex Fire & Rescue Service staff can also fit radio-linked smoke alarms, which are connected to a 24-hour, operator-monitored centre, and which is automatically alerted should the smoke alarm go off – ensuring that a 999 emergency call is placed to the fire service.
From April 1, 2015, to March 31 this year, West Sussex Fire & Rescue Service fitted 235 of the pillow pad detectors and more then 3,500 radio-linked smoke detectors during special home safety visits.
Jackie Boyle is the community fire safety manager for the West Sussex Fire & Rescue Service.
She said: “It is vital that people who are deaf or hard of hearing ensure they have the right smoke alarm technology in their home to protect them and that they test them regularly, to make sure they work.
“A specialist alarm system provides valuable time to escape from a house blaze. Without it, lives could be lost.
“Anyone in doubt about the alarm they need can contact our community safety team.
“You may be eligible for a free Home Safety Visit where we can advise you on planning an escape route, positioning alarms and, of course, ensure that the correct working smoke alarm is fitted”
The fire service said that British Standard BS5446-3:2005 specifies smoke alarm kits for deaf and hard of hearing people. Products made to this standard give deaf people assurance of quality smoke alarms designed to meet their needs.
Anyone who would like to find out more about home fire safety visits should call 0845 872 9719 or visit www.westsussex.gov.uk/fire
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