Japan seeks installation of flashing fire alarms for people with hearing disabilities
Asia-Pacific, March 18 2017
TOKYO: The Japanese government has called on municipalities across the country to install visibly recognizable flashing fire alarms for people who are deaf or hard-of-hearing.
The Fire and Disaster Management Agency has asked local authorities to install more flashing fire alarms in public spaces such as stations, airports and welfare facilities. The introduction of such devices is still limited in Japan.
Installation of fire detection devices including emergency bells is mandatory at such places as stations, airports, nursery homes for the elderly and care facilities for persons with disabilities above a certain size.
But meeting the needs of those who cannot hear fire alarms has been a challenge, with visible fire alarms only introduced at a limited number of places including the international terminal of Tokyo’s Haneda airport and some welfare facilities.
The flashing alarms, fitted on walls or ceilings, show blinking signs when they detect outbreaks of fire.
In its first guideline compiled last autumn, the agency also called for introduction of the devices at commercial facilities visited by many people with hearing disabilities.
It also recommends setting flashing alarms less than 10 meters above floor level and using white light so that those with color perception deficiencies can easily recognize alarm signs.
Chieko Yamashita, 69-year-old chair of an association of the deaf in Tokyo’s Meguro Ward, expressed hope for further introduction of the devices.
Yamashita, who has participated in an emergency drill with a flashing alarm, said, “With strong flashing light, I immediately noticed that I needed to evacuate even though I was looking down.”