Essex County Fire and Rescue Service

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Fire service offers free sensory smoke alarms for people with reduced hearing

This Deaf Awareness Week, Essex County Fire and Rescue Service is raising awareness of its free offer to fit sensory smoke alarms that can alert people with reduced hearing to a fire in their home.  

The Fire Service offers a free home visit to all Essex residents where staff visit your home to give safety advice on how to prevent a fire. 

You can book a free visit for yourself or someone you know by calling 0300 303 0088 or by visiting www.essex-fire.gov.uk/book

When booking your visit, a member of the team will ask a series of questions to understand your level of vulnerability to a fire and to see if you need smoke alarms fitted at the property. The Fire Service recommends you have at least one working smoke alarm on every level of your home and can supply and fit smoke alarms as well as sensory smoke alarms for free if required. 

A sensory smoke alarm is fitted to the ceiling in the same way as a regular smoke alarm and is wirelessly linked to an additional device.

This device is placed in the line of vision of the person who requires the sensory alarm while in bed (i.e. on the bedside table or wall-mounted nearby). 

This additional device is attached to a vibrating pad that is placed underneath a pillow in the bed. 

Multiple linked alarms can be placed throughout the home, so that all alarms activate in the event of one alarm being set off. 

When a smoke alarm on the ceiling is activated, a high-intensity flashing strobe light is set off inside the bed-side device and subsequently, the pad will vibrate underneath the pillow, alerting the person and enabling them to be aware of what actions they need to take which may involve evacuating the property. 

Between April 2021 and March 2022, Essex County Fire and Rescue Service’s Prevention team fitted 7,540 smoke alarms and 1,125 sensory alarms. 

Paul Pemberton, Inclusive Prevention and Partnership Manager at Essex County Fire and Rescue Service said: “We recommend that every home has at least one working smoke alarm on every level of the property. 

“We understand that many of our residents might not be able to hear a regular smoke alarm. Essex has one of the highest numbers of sensory impaired communities across the country outside of Metropolitan areas and it’s important that we recognise that the standard smoke alarms we provide might not be suitable for all our residents in Essex. Whether that’s because of their reduced hearing ability, or maybe medication that they take, it would make it harder for them to be alerted by just an audible smoke alarm on its own. 

“We want to make sure that everyone in our county has the same protection from working smoke alarms. We work with numerous partners to provide the appropriate solutions and equipment to alert someone in the event of a fire, if they would have difficulty in doing so. 

“Make sure to test your smoke alarms regularly, we recommend at least once a month. Check in on family and friends who might not be able to test their smoke alarms as easily as others, or not at all.” 

If you want to book a free home fire safety visit for yourself or someone you know, please call 0300 303 0088 or visit www.essex-fire.gov.uk/book

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