How Can Fire Alarm Systems Work on the Deaf Community?

Fire and smoke alarms are essential parts of a building’s safety protocols. It’s a necessary system that exists from elderly homes to commercial establishments. Traditional retail fire systems are essential additions to any establishment as it provides security to your staff and also protection to your customers.

One may then wonder how these systems would fare in institutions that house individuals, such as the deaf community.

Addressing unique challenges

Traditional fire alarms use high-piercing sounds with a 3 kHz frequency, which is the level of sound that is commonly lost to people who have hearing impairments. A research conducted by The National Fire Prevention Association (NFPA) shows that hard-of-hearing individuals, especially elderly persons, aren’t as receptive to the high-frequency noise. For this reason, alternative fire protection solutions are needed to keep them safe by giving them a similar level of efficiency to provide an extra layer of protection in alerting them of danger.

In this article, we will share with you three alternative methods that retail fire systems can use to warn deaf people during an emergency:

  1. Provide vibration appliances

For people who aren’t dependent on auditory clues, an emergency alarm might prove to be a difficult event to experience. Types of vibration notification appliances include pillow vibrators, bed shakers, and other accessories that are worn by the individual. These can be readily used together with a traditional alarm to alert the wearer of the danger.

The appliances are made explicitly for the deaf and hard-of-hearing community as they require alternative forms of emergency cues. They can be attached to traditional fire alarms by using sound monitoring devices that trigger when from a fire alarm’s ringing, which then activates the vibration on the connected devices.

  1. Install mixed pitch alarms

One viable alternative with conventional fire alarm systems is the use of mixed pitch alarms. Those who can significantly benefit from it are people who are moving past senior age. Keep in mind that people in the hard-of-hearing community aren’t completely deaf, but are limited in the pitches that they can hear.

These types of alarms react in response to a standard fire and smoke alarm as it creates a mixed low-pitch signal at 520 Hz, which is easier to be heard by older adults who can’t hear the high-pitch sound of traditional alarms. Even people who have no hearing impairments can significantly benefit from the frequency of mixed pitch alarms because it has a higher chance of waking individuals without hearing impairments from a deep sleep.

  1. Use visual cues

Modern hospitals and buildings commonly switch between work lights and emergency lights during an emergency to give individuals a heightened sense of urgency. It also works as a guided path for some buildings to lead straight to emergency exits by following the direction of the lights’ placement.

Strobe lights are a valid application of visual cues used in conjunction with traditional alarms. These lights can be tested to possess enough light intensity to work even on sleeping individuals to alert them of an emergency. However, strobe lights aren’t the most effective form of alternative emergency systems, but they are recommended for use in combination with vibration appliances and mixed pitch alarms.


Having safety systems installed in buildings is not just a matter of practicality in adjusting to modern building codes and regulations. It also gives the people in your property a sense of comfort that they are in a safe space. Especially for the deaf and hard-of-hearing community, you ensure them that their needs and safety are considered as well.

If you are looking for reputable fire protection services in London, we are here to help – get in touch with us today to see how we can provide security and alarm installation!