8 Mar 2017

Deaf community petitions for visual fire alarms

1:38 pm on 8 March 2017

The government is being asked to change the rules and make it compulsory for visual fire alarms to be installed in public buildings.

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A petition to install visual fire alarms in public buildings was presented to Parliament. Photo: 123rf

MPs have been told that the lack of visual alarms meant deaf people were often unaware an emergencies unfolding and they were always the last to be evacuated.

More than 730 people have signed Kim Robinson's petition calling for fire safety legislation to change to make visual alarms mandatory in public buildings.

Mr Robinson, who is a member of the deaf community, told the Government Administration Committee deaf people need visual information.

"As a deaf person I don't know when a fire alarm goes off, I might know when I smell the smoke but it may be too late by then.

And that's a reality for me in my everyday life as a deaf person, that comes back to the question of the value of life, the cost of life and how law treats us as deaf people."

Dean Buckley, a deaf student, related his experience of being in an Auckland University building when a fire drill was sounded.

While other students evacuated, he had no idea.

"I became aware of what happened when the Fire Warden found me sitting alone, the Fire Warden shouted at me and said 'get out of the building' - they didn't realise I was deaf.

"It was a very difficult experience for me, I felt angry, I felt ashamed and embarrassed I felt that it was really unfair."

Mr Buckley told MPs he complained to the university, but he said it had not really changed anything.

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