Friday, 19 July 2013

Hearing impairments and fire safety advice

East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service is offering safety advice to residents with hearing impairments and hotels which cater for guests with hearing impairments.

Home safety

You are more than twice as likely to die in a fire at home if you haven't got a working smoke alarm. A smoke alarm is the easiest way to alert you to the danger of fire, giving you time to escape.

Residents with hearing impairments can contact our Community Safety Teams for advice on how to keep themselves safe in their homes. The teams fitted 122 sensory alarms in residents home for free in the last financial year.

To find out if you are eligible for a free Home Safety Visit please contact us:
Minicom: 01323 462 003
Freephone: 0800 1777 069
Online: complete our on-line form at

Hotels are audited by the Service and a Fire Safety Officer would expect there to be measures to raise an early warning of fire for all guests. Within sleeping accommodation which caters for those with hearing impairments, this would typically require appropriate devices to be installed.

These could include flashing strobe lights in the hotel room or vibrating pads which can be placed under pillows to awaken guests. These devices should be linked to the main fire alarm system and operate in accordance with the British Standard for Fire Alarms. These devices could be supplemented by a buddy system (someone sleeping in the same room who would be able to hear the alarm and assist in the evacuation).

Fire Safety Officer Dexter Allen said:

“We are aware of the issues facing guests and staff with hearing impairments and recognise that this poses an additional responsibility for those responsible for the fire safety in sleeping accommodation, such as hotels. Amongst many other significant issues, this would include ensuring that hearing impaired guests and staff could be made aware of a fire in the premises and evacuated safely.”

Guidance is available through business safety offices. Local contacts can be found here

The law

East Sussex Fire & Rescue Service is the enforcing authority for current fire safety legislation, specifically the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (The Order).

The overarching remit of the Order, is to place a duty on the responsible person (Employer / Owner etc) to ensure that all persons legally entitled to be on the premises (Relevant Persons) are not placed at risk of death or serious injury from a fire on the premises. In simple, terms the responsible person for that premises ensures that a fire risk assessment is carried out to ensure that all risks to relevant people, from fire, are identified and that adequate controls measures are in place.

The Community and Local Governments Department (CLG) has issued guidance documents to assist businesses to undertake this assessment. Simple guidance in relation to fire alarms for those with hearing impairments, may be found in:
•         HM Govt Guide to fire risk assessment: Sleeping Accommodation
•         HM Govt Guide to fire risk assessment: Means of escape for Disabled People.

As part of the risk based inspection programme ESFRS undertook a total of 671 Audits during the last financial year, 242 of these were in commercial sleeping accommodation.


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