Smoke Detectors for the Hearing Impaired

What are Visual Fire Alarms?

If a fire breaks out, occupants of a building may have as little as two minutes to get out before the fire becomes life-threatening.

Fire alarms provide an early warning notification and alert people to evacuate, but what if you are deaf or hearing impaired? How do you know there is an emergency?

Visual fire alarms allow those who are hearing impaired to receive notification of an emergency through a visual or motion-based cue, rather than an auditory signal. Visual fire alarms usually include flashing strobe lights to alert those with hearing difficulties to an emergency.

Building Codes and National Fire Protection Association Standards

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) is a global nonprofit organization that sets the standards for eliminating losses due to fire, electrical, and related hazards like:

  • Death

  • Injury

  • Property

  • Economic loss

Building codes in your area are most likely based on NFPA codes.

The NFPA has specific requirements for fire alarm systems that are installed, upgraded, or replaced. New construction, as well as existing facilities, must have both visual and audible notification devices. There are specifications required for the decibel level of the sound, the strobe intensity of the visual cue, the flash rate, the color of the light, and the placement of devices based on room size and configuration.

In a building where someone with a hearing disability may be sleeping, the NFPA provides this important tip sheet, which includes recommendations for things such as: 

  • Strobe lights that are of such high intensity that they can wake a sleeping person

  • Vibrating pillows or bed shakers that can be activated by the sound of a smoke alarm

  • Use of a loud, mixed, low-pitched smoke alarm for those who may be older and can no longer hear higher-pitched sounds

If you plan to install a fire alarm system in a commercial building, it is essential to work with a company that has a proven track record of cooperating well with local authorities to ensure the system meets code.

Servicing of your fire alarm systems will be necessary after installation as well, with mandatory testing and maintenance required by a certified firm.  At FSS Technologies, our technicians are NICET-certified fire alarm technicians, so we can continue to help you before, during, and after installation of your fire alarm system.

Want to learn more, contact us today for more information or a free quote.

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