PITTSBURGH, PA (September 27, 2019) – The Pittsburgh Bureau of Fire is pleased to announce it has been awarded more than $1 million in federal and civic funding to help equip the deaf and hard of hearing with life-saving smoke and fire detection devices for their homes.
FEMA will provide more than $950,000 through its Fire Prevention Safety Grants, while the City of Pittsburgh will contribute close to $50,000 for the two-year program.
The Pittsburgh Bureau of Fire will work closely with the Center for Hearing and Deaf Services in Pittsburgh to identify local recipients who will receive the devices and learn how to use them.
The specialized smoke and fire detectors will vary depending on individual needs. Some of the devices work in conjunction with audible smoke detectors to activate visual cues such as strobe lights. Others can be worn on the body as pager-type monitors that vibrate and alert people wherever they may be in the home.
Pittsburgh Bureau of Fire Chief Darryl Jones says the funding will go a long way toward protecting a population that is underserved when it comes to fire safety.
“The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) states people who are deaf or are hard of hearing face unique challenges in an emergency. Their ability to detect a fire or escape its effects can be hindered.
As a result, they are at a greater risk of death or injury due to fire. The most pressing fire safety issue for people who are deaf or hard of hearing is whether they will be alerted to danger in time to escape. These specially-designed devices are expensive to buy and install in a home - much more so than the standard smoke detectors you'd find at a hardware store. Those who are deaf or hard of hearing should not be prevented from protecting themselves and their families in the event of a fire simply because it is cost-prohibitive,” said Jones.
Pittsburgh Bureau of Fire Inspector / Fire Prevention Officer Lisa Epps will lead the training programs to teach recipients how to operate the safety equipment and install it in their homes.
An announcement on the start date and eligibility for the program will be made at a later time.