THE safety of people who are deaf or hard of hearing is set to be improved with a new scheme set to offer visual smoke alarms at heavily discounted rates.
Currently the hard of hearing are obliged to pay around $400 to $650 for a system with a flashing light and/or a vibrating device that will wake them in the event of a fire, but the scheme is set to change this.
Deaf Society of NSW acting CEO Sheena Walters said under the Smoke Alarm Subsidy Scheme (SASS, people would pay $50 to access one of these life-saving devices.
“[Until now] the prohibitively expensive cost denies deaf and hard of hearing people the right to make the same choices about their home fire safety,” Ms Walters said.
The smoke alarms offered will be portable and flexible so that people can move them around the home as required with a choice of alarms to suit the individual’s requirements.
Orange woman Kay Gorringe said the scheme would be a huge benefit for her and her profoundly deaf husband Tony.
She said she continually worried about him when she left him in the house alone and that he might not hear a fire taking hold.
“When I’m away he’s left vulnerable... it’d [the scheme] take a load off my shoulders,” Mrs Gorringe said.
Mr Gorringe said while he is concerned he wouldn’t wake up if a fire started in the house, it was not something he dwells on.
“I’ve thought about it, if it happens I wouldn’t know about it,” Mr Gorringe said.
He said the smoke alarms would be a huge benefit, especially the fact they are portable as he enjoyed travelling.
Station officer from Orange Fire Station Matt Jeffery said it was difficult for people with a hearing disability who do not have one of these smoke alarms.
“The earlier you [firefighters] can get to the occupants, the greater chance of survival,” MrJeffery said.
“Within 7.5 minutes a simple fire in a room can spread to the rest of the house.”
Fire and Rescue NSW worked closely with the Deaf Society of NSW to develop the SASS which will begin in December this year.
The SASS is part of a $2 million commitment from the state government that will run over three years.