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Paul shortlisted for national deaf award

Firefighter Paul Pemberton has been shortlisted for a national award for the excellent work he has been doing to engage with the deaf community and make fire safety advice more accessible for deaf people.

National deaf charity Signature has announced the shortlists for the 2015 Signature Annual Awards and Paul, who is based at Southend Fire Station, is shortlisted for the 'Outstanding Service' award.

Helped by 18-year-old deaf fire cadet Gracie Gilmore, Paul created six subtitled fire safety videos in British Sign Language (BSL) which explained about fire alarms and fire escapes, cooking safely and general fire safety.

Paul is delighted that his efforts have been nationally recognised. He said: “I am honoured to have been nominated for such a prestigious award, to think I make a difference within the deaf community is quite humbling.  

"I am very fortunate to have such great support from my employers, Essex County Fire and Rescue Service, enabling me to have such a positive impact. My tutor has been an inspiration to me and with her help, knowledge and guidance she has empowered me to use my skills to benefit the deaf community."

A regular and active visitor to Southend Deaf Club, Paul also holds deaf friendly open days for the deaf community at fire stations throughout Essex and has recently been made ECFRS’s officer responsible for its BSL project covering fire safety for all deaf/hearing impaired people in Essex.

Paul's BSL teacher Sister Marika Rebicsek nominated Paul and described him as "one of the most successful students I have ever had in raising awareness. His positive actions go far beyond the normal call of duty.”

Signature's Chief Operating Officer Lindsay Foster is delighted that Paul's work has been highlighted. She said: "Paul works very hard for the benefit of the deaf community. He has educated and helped a lot of deaf people with regards to fire safety and deaf awareness and he continues to be an active and positive role model for all of us. We wish him luck with the award and hope he carries on his good work."

Judges will select winners from across six categories, alongside the publicly voted community project/group award, and winners will be announced at a prestigious awards ceremony 'Signature Recognises...The Community' on Friday October 9 at the Museum of Science and Industry, Manchester.

Last month Paul won the Adult Achievement Award at the Heart FM Essex Heroes Awards for the work he has been doing to raise awareness of fire safety within the deaf community.

The videos Paul has created can been seen on the Service website at: http://www.essex-fire.gov.uk/news/Deaf_Awareness_Week_Videos/

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