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May 8, 2007

Fire alarm pillow shakers for the deaf

From: News Wales - Knighton,UK - May 8, 2007

This is Deaf Awareness Week (7 to 13 May) and South Wales Fire and Rescue Service is teaming up with RNID, the national charity for deaf and hard of hearing people, to raise awareness of special smoke alarm systems which could save the life of people with hearing loss in the event of a fire.

A third of those with a hearing loss say they would have difficulty waking up to a conventional alarm, especially considering most remove their hearing aids before they go to sleep each night. Almost a quarter (23%) say they would even struggle to know if the alarm went off during the day.

In the lead up to Deaf Awareness Week this year, Head of Community Safety Chris Davies, said: "It's really important that people have working smoke alarms and more specifically, for people who are deaf or hard of hearing to have specialist smoke alarms.

"This is particularly important for deaf or hard of hearing people living in rented accommodation, which may have a standard smoke alarm that is unsuitable for them. Contact your local fire station and we will visit your home to give fire safety advice and fit a free smoke alarm that meets your needs."

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, including vibrating pads and flashing strobe lights.

"Deaf people need to place a vibrating pad under their mattress or pillow at night. If smoke is detected, the alarm will sound and set off the pad to assist in waking them" said Chris Davies.

"We all have a part to play in creating safer communities. Deaf Awareness Week is an ideal opportunity for those who know anyone who is deaf or hard of hearing, to make sure they have alarms that meet their needs."

Brian Grover, Head of Technology and Research at RNID, the UK leading charity for deaf and hard of hearing people, says: "Fire can strike at anyone's home, but not everyone is equally protected because deaf people cannot rely on hearing an ordinary alarm. We encourage deaf and hard of hearing people to think about their personal fire safety and ensure they have the right alarm for their needs."

Deaf Awareness Week promotes the positive aspects of deafness and social inclusion and raises awareness of the huge range of local organisations that support deaf people and their family and friends. It is important that safety is not overlooked.

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.

For further information on how the Fire and Rescue Service can help, please visit For further information about BSI standard smoke alarms for deaf and hard of hearing people, please contact RNID Products on telephone 0870 789 8855, textphone 01733 238020 or visit

For information on deafness and hearing loss please contact RNID on 0808 808 0123 or textphone 0808 808 9000 or visit

The procedure at South Wales Fire and Rescue Service is that people can be referred for/request a Specialist alarm in a number of ways:

By self referral via the 0800 169 1234 number or any other means e.g. by requesting a visit at an event such as a fete.
When crews carry out a Home Fire Safety Check, the attending firefighters can identify that the occupant requires a specialist alarm and the Community Safety team will go and fit them.
By referral from care agencies (Help the Aged, RNID, other care agencies etc).

At present the alarms are being fitted by a team of four non operational personnel at a rate of approximately 24 per week.

The alarms consist of two smoke alarms, a bed/pillow shaker and a strobe light.

The service provides these alarms free in the same way as they provide other smoke alarms for free during the Home Fire Safety Check.

© 2007 News Wales