Editor, IFSEC Global

Author Bio ▼

Adam Bannister was Editor of IFSEC Global from 2014 through to November 2019. Adam is also a former Managing Editor at Dynamis Online Media Group.
May 5, 2016

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FRS Marks Deaf Awareness Week With Warning on Audio Fire Alarms

deafguard firecoCumbria Fire and Rescue Service (FRS) has marked Deaf Awareness Week with a reminder of the need to have the right smoke alarms fitted for people with hearing problems.

Conventional audio-based alarms are obviously inadequate for the nearly 900,000 people who are severely or profoundly deaf.

Cumbria FRS has issued a statement reminding those with responsibility for fire safety in commercial and residential properties that a number of specialist alarms on the market alert those with impaired hearing to a potential  fire not with audio signals but vibrations, strobe lighting or wearable, radio-linked pagers – and we’ve examined some of the available alarms below.

“It’s 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,” says Cumbria FRS Community Safety Manager Mark Ducie.

“Many people with hearing loss could be at serious risk if they don’t have the right alarm in place. A specialist alarm system provides valuable time to escape from a house blaze. Without it, lives could be lost.

“Anyone unsure about the alarm they need should contact Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service for a free Home Fire Safety Check. We are here to help make sure your home is as fire safe as possible.”

Deaf Awareness Week runs from 2-8 May.

Fire alarms on the market for the hearing impaired

deafguard from firecoDeafgard by Fireco

Deafgard is a portable device that alerts those with impaired hearing to a potential fire as they sleep. Deafgard’s vibration pad is placed underneath a pillow or mattress and the vibration pad works with a flashing light to wake people up when a fire has been detected.

On the sound of the alarm, the pad vibrates, lights on the Deafgard flash and the screen displays ‘FIRE’.

Portable and light, people can easily take the alarm on holiday or anywhere else they may travel to.

It’s also wire-free, avoiding complicated wiring and negligible running costs compared to a hardwired alternative.

Deafgard is CE marked and tested to all applicable British and European standards, including EN 61000-6-1:2001, and is triggered by all fire alarms that are compliant with European and international standards. There is therefore no need to replace your existing fire alarm.

Deafgard also has an alarm clock function.

Fireco, which manufactures simple and trusted solutions for common fire safety problems, is showcasing its range of fire-safety products (also including the Freedor) at FIREX International 2016. After registering to attend FIREX you can then book a FIREX meeting with the Fireco team in advance of the event.

radiolink strobe aicoRadioLINK Strobe Ei171RF from Aico

The RadioLINK Strobe from Aico signals potential fires with a high intensity flashing Xenon strobe light that is suitable for daytime rooms. A specially designed lens provides wide-angle light output.

It is a standalone unit and links wirelessly with RadioLINK bases and alarms.

Though mains powered, it also has a long-life lead-acid rechargeable battery back-up.

The alarm, which is sold with a five-year guarantee, has a unique ‘housing code’ feature, which allows a system of RadioLINK units to be coded together to prevent interference with neighboring systems.

The Ei171RF also has visual RF transmission.

Aico, a market leader in residential fire protection, is showcasing its range of smoke and carbon monoxide alarms at FIREX International 2016. After registering to attend FIREX you can then book a FIREX meeting with the Aico team in advance of the event.

agrippa pillow alarmThe Agrippa Pillow Alarm by Geofire

The Agrippa Pillow Alarm, which was launched at FIREX International 2015, alerts deaf or hard-of-hearing people to fire when they’re asleep through Geofire’s ‘listen and learn’  technology.

A battery powered, wire-free unit the alarm sits unobtrusively under the pillow and comes with a pad attachment.

Agrippa  ‘listen and learn’  technology is already available in Geofire’s door holder and closer product.

It uses ‘listen and learn’ digital wire-free technology that listens for the unique sound of a specific fire alarm.



The Future of Fire Safety: download the eBook

Is the fire protection industry adapting to the post-Grenfell reality fast enough? At FIREX International 2019, Europe's only dedicated fire safety event, some of the world's leading fire safety experts covered this theme. This eBook covers the key insights from those discussions on the developments shaping the profession, with topics including:

  • Grenfell Inquiry must yield “bedrock change” – and soon
  • After Grenfell: Jonathan O’Neill OBE on how austerity and policy “on the hoof” are hampering progress
  • Hackitt’s Golden Thread: Fire, facilities and building safety
  • Fire safety community has to “get on board” with technological changes

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Louis Schwarz
Louis Schwarz
May 6, 2016 6:11 am

Please be advised that the term, “hearing impaired” is unacceptable. Here is the explanation:
The term “Hearing Impaired” is a technically accurate term much preferred by hearing people, largely because they view it as politically correct. In the mainstream society, to boldly state one’s disability (e.g., deaf, blind, etc.) is somewhat rude and impolite. To their way of thinking, it is far better to soften the harsh reality by using the word “impaired” along with “visual”, “hearing”, and so on.  “Hearing-impaired” is a well-meaning word that is much-resented by deaf and hard of hearing people. This term was popular in the 70s and 80s, however, now is used mostly by doctors, audiologists and other people who are mainly interested in our ears “not working.”
While it’s true that their hearing is not perfect, that doesn’t make them impaired as people. Most would prefer to be called Deaf, Hard of Hearing or deaf when the need arises to refer to their hearing status, but not as a primary way to identify them as people (where their hearing status is not significant).
We are deaf, and not people with impairments (obstacles) in life!
Hope that you and your people respect by refusing to use the outdated and offensive term.  Hearing loss is more acceptable for everyone who is not just deaf.