Ventura County Fire Dept. gives smoke alarms to deaf, hard of hearing individuals

Summarized by Amber Rottinghaus, staff writer

After receiving grant funds to purchase specialized smoke alarms, the Ventura County (California) Fire Department gave them away to deaf and hard of hearing residents.

The smoke alarms work by using visual and tactile cues instead of audio alarms to indicate a fire, coming in the form of kits consisting of several devices that can be connected to a conventional smoke detector.

The devices include: a digital clock that flashes bright lights, a vibrating device known as a “bed shaker” which is placed under a mattress, and a remote-control portable device for residents when they are in other rooms of their house.

This was the first giveaway for the agency after being awarded a $157,000 grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which funded the installation of 1,400 10-year smoke alarms and 30 specialized smoke alarm kits for those who are deaf or hard of hearing.

When the department applied for the grant, they were unaware of the specialized smoke alarms.

“It’s such an underserved population,” Corina Cagley, a fire prevention officer with the department, said. “I didn’t even think they would have something like this.”

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