Raising the alarm: Smoke alarm subsidy scheme for people who are deaf or hard of hearing

Published: 1st August 2012

NSW Minister for Disability Services, Andrew Constance, today announced the Smoke Alarm Subsidy Scheme (SASS) to protect the lives of people who are deaf, deafblind or hard of hearing.

The NSW Government has invested $2 million for the scheme, which aims to give people who are deaf, deafblind or hard of hearing the same protections as smoke alarms do for others.

“The average smoke alarm costs around $50 but those with flashing lights and vibrating under-pillow pads to supplement the sound of the alarms can rise to as much as $500,” Mr Constance said.

“That is why the subsidy scheme has been introduced.”

“Cost will no longer be a reason people cannot access home safety equipment that warns of a house-fire.”

Fire & Rescue NSW Commissioner Greg Mullins said this was an important step towards saving lives.

“It is mandatory to have a smoke alarm in every household where people sleep, but those who are deaf or hard of hearing cannot hear a standard smoke alarm. This lifesaving program will see 3500 high-tech smoke alarms go to people in our community who are deaf, deafblind or hard of hearing,” Commissioner Mullins said.

“For those eligible, firefighters from your local fire station can come out and help install them.”

The NSW Smoke Alarm Subsidy Scheme, launched today at City of Sydney Fire Station, is a joint initiative between the Deaf Society of NSW and Fire & Rescue NSW, with funding from Ageing, Disability and Home Care (ADHC).

“If the average person is twice as likely to die in a fire at home where a smoke alarm is not installed, the risk factor increases for anyone who cannot hear a standard smoke alarm,” said Sharon Everson, Chief Executive Officer of the Deaf Society of NSW.

“The subsidy gives deaf, deafblind and hard of hearing people in NSW the right to make the same choices as everyone else about their home fire safety.”

Applications for the subsidy can be made to the Deaf Society of NSW, which provides information and services to people who are deaf, deafblind or hard of hearing and their families.

For information and application forms visit this website: http://www.deafsocietynsw.org.au/smokealarms/

The launch of the scheme also coincides with FRNSW’s winter fire safety campaign. The fire service, in collaboration with its Principal Partner GIO, is encouraging householders to complete an online Home Fire Safety Audit as part of the campaign at: www.homefiresafetyaudit.com.au.