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Gadgets & Home Improvement

Hotel installs visual fire alarms for deaf

The devices are designed to help hearing-impaired people, who cannot always detect the sound of fire bells ringing.
The Straits Times - January 29, 2013
By: Jalelah Abu Baker
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Hotel installs visual fire alarms for deaf A visual alarm in the SADeaf building in Mountbatten Road. W Hotel in Sentosa has also installed such alarms. From July 15, the devices will be a requirement for new non-residential buildings. -- PHOTO: MARK CHEONG FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

FLASHING lights and strobes have been installed at the W Hotel in Sentosa to alert those hard of hearing in a fire.

The Singapore Association for the Deaf (SADeaf) has also fitted the visual alarms in its building ahead of new rules that will make them compulsory from July.

The devices are designed to help hearing-impaired people, who cannot always detect the sound of fire bells ringing.

They are a requirement under the revised edition of the Fire Code, which was introduced earlier this month by the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF). The revision is part of the SCDF's regular update of its code.

From July 15, all new non-residential buildings will have to install visual alarms in the form of a strobe or flashing light. The hotel and SADeaf, although not required to install them, went ahead and did so. They are the only two buildings with visual alarms now.

SADeaf president Low Wong Kein said that they have been advocating for greater accessibility of the deaf. He said: "We are very pleased to know that the visual fire alarm will soon be a requirement in all new non-residential buildings. This is an important step for an inclusive society."

Student Ginny Ong, who is deaf, said she was glad that the provision had been made.

"In school, whenever there were fire alarms, I wouldn't know at all," said the 24-year-old. "My friends had to tell me."

But others said that flashing text could be a better alternative.

Ms Joreena Tan, a 33-year-old interactive designer who is also deaf, said a visual alarm might not convey a sense of urgency.

A spokesman for W Hotel, which installed the alarms when it opened last September, said they were a useful way of alerting guests in emergencies, and deserved to be made compulsory.

Other fire-safety requirements are already in place to make sure disabled people can be evacuated from non-residential buildings.

They include making sure there are up to two designated holding points, which provide a temporary safe space where the disabled can wait for further help.

jalmsab@sph.com.sg

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