London Fire Brigade

Don’t die in silence: get a smoke alarm

28 June 2010

Without a smoke alarm, deaf and hard of hearing people run the risk of dying in silence, warned London’s firefighters today, ahead of Deaf Awareness Week (28 June - 4 July).

There are over a million deaf or hard of hearing people in the capital, who are at risk of being injured or even killed in a fire if they don’t have smoke alarms.

Firefighters are using Deaf Awareness Week to raise awareness of specialist smoke alarms for the deaf and hard of hearing, which flash or can be wired up to vibrating pads in pillows, as well as sounding an alarm. London’s firefighters can fit these alarms for free in people’s homes where needed.

Andy Hickmott, London Fire Brigade’s Assistant Commissioner for Community Fire Safety, said “Smoke alarms are absolutely vital – you’re more than twice as likely to die in a fire at home if you haven't got one.

We offer these specialist alarms for free, so there’s no excuse for anyone in London to die in silence because they’ve not got an alarm”. 

Most fires in the home happen during the night so it’s all too easy for people who are hard of hearing to sleep through a normal smoke alarm, especially given that most people take their hearing aids out at night.

Firefighters can fit free smoke alarms, including specialist alarms for the hard of hearing, as part of a free home fire safety visit. During a visit, firefighters visit people’s homes, help them spot any potential fire hazards and show them what to do to reduce or prevent the risk of fire. Firefighters aim to carry out these visits at the homes of the capital’s most vulnerable people, including those who are deaf or hard of hearing. For further information on home fire safety visits, call the Brigade for free on 0800 028 44 28 or visit www.london-fire.gov.uk/homefiresafetyvisit.asp

In addition to highlighting specialist smoke alarms and home fire safety visits, Brigade staff will be educating children about deaf awareness and fire safety. The Brigade’s Schools Team will deliver life saving advice on deaf awareness as part of their usual fire safety lessons. During the week the team will visit around 40 schools and will deliver fire safety education to around 3,500 children. They will teach children ways in which deaf and hard of hearing people can be alerted to a fire.

Ends

Notes to editors

Hard of hearing smoke alarms: A case study

On September 4 2008 firefighters carried out a home fire safety visit at the home of Mrs Sandra Diment, who lives on the sixth floor of a tower block in Kensington with her daughter. John Calvert, Station Manager at Chelsea Fire Station said: “The firefighters noticed Mrs Diment was hard of hearing and they fitted a specialist smoke alarm, which is especially designed for the deaf and hard of hearing. These are much louder than standard alarms and can be wired up to a vibrating pad in your pillow. We also gave her some important fire safety advice”.

Mrs Diment said: “It wasn’t until the firefighters visited me that I knew about these special smoke alarms for people who are hard of hearing”.

Mrs Diment has tested her smoke alarm regularly since it was fitted.

During the early hours of 25th January 2010 a serious fire broke out in the bedroom of her flat. The smoke alarm alerted the occupants to the fire, who, following the advice given by the firefighters closed the bedroom door and left the flat.

Four fire engines and around 20 firefighters were called to tackle the blaze. Mrs Diment wasn’t injured but her daughter received treatment for slight smoke inhalation.

Mrs Diment describes what happened on the night of the fire: “I was in bed when the alarm sounded. We realised there was a fire in the next bedroom. We closed the door to the room where the fire was, quickly went outside and called the fire brigade. The firefighters were brilliant and did a great job. The fire was caused by a cigarette.

The bedroom was gutted and the rest of the flat was damaged by the smoke.

I think the fire, and the damage caused, would have been far worse if the firefighters hadn’t fitted this special smoke alarm for me. I realise now we could have died.

Since the fire we don’t smoke in the bedrooms any more and we always make sure we put our cigarettes out properly.

To anyone who hasn’t got a smoke alarm I’d say “go and get one as soon as possible”.


For more information about smoke alarms go to http://www.london-fire.gov.uk/smokealarms.asp

For more information about Deaf Awareness Week go to www.deafcouncil.org.uk