When a fire alarm goes off, a quick response is critical. But how do the hard-of-hearing or the deaf know that it is time to evacuate? Even with the nearly intolerable volume of some fire alarms, those with severe hearing impairments might never notice. Even those with just mild hearing loss might take longer to recognize the sound of the alarm and respond, losing life-saving time to evacuate securely. So, what’s available for the deaf and hard-of-hearing community regarding fire protection? Read on to learn more about the challenges facing fire protection for these communities and the number of ways the industry is working to help them.
Difficult Challenges for the Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing
Many different obstacles make alerting the deaf and hard-of-hearing communities to fire difficult. Fire alarms are designed to use loud, piecing noises at a high volume to both alert people and to drive them away from the fire. Smoke alarms sound an alarm at 3 kHz, and fire alarm horn strobe devices sound the alarm between 2-4 kHz. These high-frequency noises are usually the first to be lost to a person with hearing problems. Many with hearing issues do not hear high-frequencies, so how can we get past this problem?
Fire Alarm Strobe Lights for Fire Protection
Fire alarm strobes are lights that are built into systems specifically designed for those who have hearing issues. These lights should be tested by a third-party testing laboratory to ensure that they possess the intensity to wake up those who are sleeping. Once the fire alarm is triggered, the strobe lights start to flash. However, it should also be noted that according to NFPA research studies, older individuals were less likely to wake up in response to fire alarm strobes. Therefore, it’s recommended that these strobes lights be used in combination with other devices to ensure adequate fire protection.
Vibration Notification Appliances
Vibration notification appliances include pillow vibrators, bed shakers, and other smaller devices that might be worn on the person. These devices are activated by the noise of the fire alarm and will shake a bed frame, pillow, or even the person themselves to alert them to fire danger.
Mixed Pitch Fire Alarms
Another option for fire protection and safety that can be used for those with hearing loss is a device that will emit lower-pitched noise. These devices are triggered by the standard smoke alarm when it sounds and produces a mixed, lower-pitch alarm at 520 Hz that is more readily heard by others. This frequency has also proven to be better at waking those asleep with no hearing impairments.
Fire Protection Services from Fireline
Whether you need smoke detectors, fire extinguishers, or an automatic sprinkler system installed at your commercial property, Fireline has you covered. We have been protecting people and property from fire damage since 1947—and our experience shows in our excellent work! We are known for our superb customer service, our expertise, and our reliability. For more information on how we can help your residential or commercial property, visit us online or give us a call at (800) 553-3405. We are located in Baltimore, MD, with a second office in Leesburg, VA. For more fire safety tips, be sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.