Firefighters urge deaf to register to be heard

Deaf awareness week logoMembers of deaf or hard of hearing communities are being urged to make sure they have the means to easily call on firefighters if they have an emergency.

Avon Fire & Rescue Service (AF&RS) is using Deaf Awareness Week, which runs this week (7 – 13 May) to remind people with hearing difficulties about fire safety and how to raise the alarm.

People who are deaf or hard of hearing may have difficulty contacting the emergency services.

That’s why AF&RS promotes a special SMS text messaging service, which may make it quicker and easier for people with hearing loss to raise the alarm.

But before anyone can use the national service, they need to register their phones.

To do this, simply text the word ‘Register’ to 999. You will receive a reply with instructions on how to complete the registration of your phone.

Once you are registered, if you need to contact the emergency services, all you do is send a text message to ‘999’ with the following information:

  • Which emergency service do you need.
  • What is the emergency (brief description).
  • Where is the emergency? (name of the road, house number plus any nearby landmarks).

You will usually get a reply to your text in about two minutes.

Deaf or hard of hearing people are also urged to make sure they have effective smoke alarms.

A whole range of alarms have been designed specifically for people with hearing loss, with features ranging from strobe lighting and vibrating alarms to small, wearable, radio-linked pagers.

Station Manager Stuart Matthews from the AF&RS Community Safety Team said: “It can be easy to forget that not everybody can hear an ordinary smoke alarm, and not everyone can pick up a telephone and easily hear what is being said to them.

“That is why it is vital that people who are deaf or hard of hearing ensure they have the right smoke alarm technology in their home to protect them.

“And, of course, they should test them weekly to make sure they work.

“If you have hearing loss, and you do nothing else during Deaf Awareness Week, please make sure you register your phone with the text service.

“Should you then be unfortunate enough to need our assistance in an emergency at least you know you will be able to communicate with us quickly and clearly, and get the help you need as soon as possible.”

AF&RS will visit the homes of the most vulnerable members of the community to discuss fire safety measures. To see if you qualify for a free Home Fire Safety Visit, call 0117 926 2061. For more fire safety advice visit www.avonfire.gov.uk

You can get more useful information about the emergency text message service at emergencysms.org.uk