Asia-Pacific Aug 6, 2012
People who are deaf in NSW will be given a heavy discount off special smoke alarms that vibrate and activate strobe lights during a fire.
Average alarms cost $50 but more elaborate alarms with vibrating under-pillow pads remotely connected to a wall-mounted smoke detector cost up to $500.
NSW Disability Services Minister Andrew Constance has unveiled a $2 million subsidies program by which people who are deaf or hard of hearing will pay just $50 for an alarm.
“It particularly worries me that people’s safety is being compromised as a result of their disability, not having access to the necessary home safety equipment,” Mr Constance said at the launch of the scheme at Sydney Fire Station on Wednesday.
He said the program had bipartisan support and praised Labor upper house MP Helen Westwood for backing the scheme, which will distribute 3500 special smoke alarms.
“As a prominent member of the Labor Party in the state, (Ms Westwood) has done an amazing job in terms of the promotion of issues which surround those who are in the deaf community,” Mr Constance said.
Nola Colefax, the vice-patron of the Deaf Society of NSW, who turns 91 in August, said that for her, as a deaf person struggling financially, vibrating smoke alarms had been unaffordable.
“Being a pensioner I just thought the special smoke alarms for me were far too expensive,” she said.
The scheme was initially piloted by the previous state Labor government in early 2011, shortly before it lost office.
Fire and Rescue NSW commissioner Greg Mullins said firefighters would be installing the alarms for people who are deaf.