Flash cards which will enable firefighters to communicate quickly in an emergency with people with hearing difficulties are being trialled at fire stations in Torbay. 

Launched as part of Deaf Awareness Week, fire appliances in the Bay will carry cards which have vital questions translated into a number of formats, including sign language and symbols. 

The cards illustrate questions such as "where is the fire?" and "is there anyone inside the building?" to enable the firefighters to obtain critical information when they arrive at the scene of an emergency. 

Firefighter Matt Hallett, of Torquay Green Watch, and his colleagues came up with the idea after experiencing difficulties communicating with a deaf person during a home safety visit. 

Matt said: "Immediately after the visit, we thought, what if this had happened in an emergency situation? We have to be able to communicate with people quickly and these cards will allow us to ask information from a number of different sections of the community, including people who do not speak English." 

The firefighters developed six to eight critical questions and Mayfield School in Torquay used their specialist software to translate the words into symbols on the A4 cards. 

The initiative could be developed across the Service if the pilot scheme is successful and other agencies have also shown an interest in developing similar cards. 

The service offers free Home Fire Safety Visits for those who are eligible, which could include fitting specially designed smoke detectors to alert people with hearing difficulties of a fire at night when they are often at their most vulnerable.  


Posted: 16.20pm, 12.05.11