Smoke alarms for people affected by hearing loss

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The Northern Health and Social Care Trust (NHSCT) is working in partnership with Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service (NIFRS) on a pilot scheme to provide smoke alarm systems which could save the life of a person with a hearing loss.

Conventional smoke alarms work by emitting a loud noise when smoke is detected, providing the vital early warning of fire, and therefore aiding escape. People who are deaf or hard of hearing need additional ways of making them aware the alarm has been activated.

The Northern Trust has purchased special smoke alarm systems which work through a wireless system that activates a vibrating pad. The vibrating pad alerts the person who is deaf or hard of hearing in the event of a fire. Local Firefighters are installing the smoke alarm systems as part of their free Home Fire Safety Check scheme to service users referred to them by the Sensory Support Team at the Northern Trust.

Anne Orr, Assistant Director of Physical Health & Disability Services, NHSCT said, “People with a hearing loss have the same need to be as safe as possible from the risk of fire and smoke in the home as everyone else. Ordinary smoke detectors are inadequate to ensure their safety. We are delighted to be able to offer this piece of equipment in partnership with Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service.

“Environmental Technical Officers will recommend the installation to the NIFRS who will install the specialist smoke alarm system and will complete a free Home Fire Safety Check.

“We are confident this will enhance home safety for service users with this type of sensory loss.”

Gary Thompson, Northern Area Commander, NIFRS said: “This is an excellent partnership initiative which is currently being piloted between NIFRS and the Northern Trust. It helps us protect a particularly vulnerable group in our community from the dangers of fire.

“In the first three months of this initiative Firefighters fitted 17 wireless deaf smoke alarm systems in the Trust’s area as part of our free Home Fire Safety Checks. The feedback from all the service users has been extremely positive.

“The importance of a working smoke alarm can not be under estimated. Smoke alarms alert you to the earliest stage of a fire and give you and your family vital extra time to escape. This wireless smoke alarm system is undoubtedly a life saver for people who are hard of hearing or who have a hearing loss.”

To arrange an appointment contact the Northern Trust at the following location of your choice: Beeches Resource Centre, Ballyclare; Magherafelt Social Services, Magherafelt; Rathlea House, Coleraine; Wilson House, Broughshane, Ballymena.

NIFRS is urging everyone in the community to avail of their free Home Fire Safety Checks, local Firefighters will check their home to help make it fire safe. They will check for people at risk, appliances that could cause fire, help with any actions to avoid fire and most importantly check that a smoke alarm is working. If necessary a free smoke alarm will be fitted.

You can phone for a free Home Fire Safety Check on 028 9260 0477, text phone/minicom 028 9262 8800 or go to the website www.nifrs.org for further information.