An effort is underway to install special smoke alarms in the homes of deaf and hard of hearing Iowans. Report from Radio Iowa’s Pat Curtis:
Iowa State Fire Marshal Ray Reynolds was on hand Tuesday as electricians installed one of the alarms, equipped with a strobe light, in the Des Moines home of Dale and Donna Kern. “There are a number of different systems on the market for hearing impaired people…but the strobe has been scientifically designed so if a person is sleeping, the strobe light will awaken them,” Reynolds said.
A grant from State Farm Insurance has allowed the Fire Marshal’s office to purchase 171 strobe light alarms, which cost $150 per unit. Reynolds says they’ll be installed in homes across the state, but there’s a waiting list of roughly 630 homes with deaf or hard of hearing people who also need one of the special smoke detectors.
Donna Kern, through an interpreter, said the unit installed in her home could be a life saver. “Right now, I have a smoke alarm that you can only hear,” Kern said. “People came here and said they heard a ‘beep, beep’ sound and that the battery was dead. Now, we have a new smoke alarm and it will alert me if there’s a fire and I’ll feel safe in my home.”
Electricians are donating their time and supplies to install the specialty smoke alarms. The Kerns are among the first Iowans to benefit from the project.
The effort is part of Fire Marshal Reynolds’ goal of making sure smoke detectors are in all Iowa homes that include children. To date, through federal grants and corporate donations, more than 28,000 smoke alarms have been supplied to mainly low-income Iowa households by 200 participating Iowa fire departments.