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October 9, 2003

Deaf man, 82, dies in house fire

From:, Australia - Oct 9, 2003

FRANTIC efforts by neighbours failed to rouse a deaf man, who died when fire engulfed his Ouse home early yesterday.

Although an audible fire alarm was going off and neighbours were trying to rouse him by knocking on windows, the elderly man remained asleep or was already overcome by smoke.

The brick home was enveloped in smoke when firefighters arrived just after 3am. The man's body was not recovered until after the blaze was extinguished.

The body of 82-year-old man, who lived alone, was found in bed in the main bedroom of the house.

The tragedy comes as the Tasmanian Deaf Society is attempting to gain a concession from the State Government for specialised smoke alarms designed for hearing-impaired people.

Attached to a powerful strobe lights, the alarms retail for about $500, compared with $20 or $30 for a conventional model.

Tasmania Fire Service community education consultant Chris Tomes said the specialised alarm "might have helped" in the Ouse fire.

He said the flashing light was sufficiently powerful to rouse a sleeping person.

"It is recommended the lights be positioned over a bed and in a hall or living room of a house," he said.

"They are connected to smoke sensors and mains power with battery backup. They are very effective and up to the Australian standard."

TFS regional fire investigator Shane Batt said the smoke alarm battery in the Ouse home had been replaced only two days ago to coincide with daylight saving.

"It was very unfortunate the man could not hear it," he said. "The Tasmania Fire Service would advise anyone with hearing problems to examine the alternative alarms on the market."

Mr Batt said the fire originated in the kitchen.

However, the ignition point was still being investigated.

Damage to the house was estimated at $200,000.

The Mercury

Copyright 2003 News Limited.