Firefighters Help Hearing Impaired With Visual Fire Detectors

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A smoke alarm can save a life. But for the hearing impaired, a traditional detector is of little use.

A new program by the Payson Fire Department will install visual smoke detectors free of charge to anyone deaf or hearing impaired within the Payson service area, said firefighter Vince Palandri.

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Bernice Frazier, left, and firefighter Vince Palandri, check out the new smoke alarm installed in Frazier's home.

A visual smoke detector has the features of a standard smoke alarm, but with an added strobe light that both audibly and visually alerts a person.

The Loaner for Life program started after the fire department received money from a grant. The department purchased 15 photoelectric smoke alarms with strobe at a cost of $170 per unit and 120, $18 dual sensor smoke alarms.

The visual smoke detectors are loaned to an individual for as long as they live in the home. Detectors are returned to the department and given to someone else when no longer needed.

Bernice Frazier, 88, who is hearing impaired, read about the program and called to have a detector installed.

"They got right on the ball and came out and gave me one," Frazier said.

Firefighters installed Frazier's detector Sunday in her bedroom.

"I only take my hearing aid out at night when I am sleeping," she said.

More than half of all fatal home fires happen at night.

Placing the detector where she can see it will eliminate the risk she may not hear it while sleeping.

After a detector is installed, firefighters will test it annually, Palandri said.

Frazier is on an automatic fire alarm maintenance program, said Battalion Chief Tom Fife.

The strobe and dual sensor detectors are available on a first-come, first-served basis. To qualify for a detector, you must live in Payson, be either a senior, on a fixed income or handicapped. To receive a strobe detector, you must also provide documentation from a doctor of the hearing impairment.

Palandri said placing detectors in every sleeping area, hallway and level of a home provides adequate protection.

Contact the Payson Fire Department at (928) 474-5242 ext. 300 for more information.

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