Canadian Hearing Society brings a strong message to Queens Park about visual fire alarms

TORONTO, April 24, 2012 /Canada NewsWire/ - The Canadian Hearing Society (CHS) will be delivering thousands of postcards signed by Deaf, oral deaf, deafened, hard of hearing people and other concerned individuals, to a press conference scheduled at Queens Park on April 26. Deaf consumers will also share their horrifying first-hand experience of escaping fires in their home, highlighting the importance of visual fire alarms.

The press conference will focus on the message that the Government of Ontario needs to implement the following two measures in the name of fire safety, accessibility and equity:

...The Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care to include visual fire alarm devices under the Ministry's Assistive Devices Program (ADP) in the ADP expansion

...The Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services amend the Ontario Fire Code to incorporate visual fire alarms and duty of landlords, owners of rental housing and long-term care facilities, and home builders to comply not only for public spaces but also in residents' dwellings

"Audible alarms which are activated by heat, smoke, or toxic fumes warn of imminent danger by sound; however, these notification systems fail Ontarians who are Deaf or have a hearing loss because they are unable to hear the alarm. Traditional fire alarms are completely inaccessible," said Chris Kenopic, CHS President & CEO,

Kenopic continues, "this is an emergency communication device that saves lives. Compliance should be equitable and not result in financial hardship to the segment of the population with hearing loss. Amending the revised Provincial Fire Code Regulation is essential. The Government of Ontario must find financial assistance for Deaf people and people with hearing loss (who are not recipients of Ontario Disability Support Program) and who may face undue financial hardship, to live safely in their homes and comply with regulations. This is in addition to the Government of Ontario's commitment to the Healthy Homes Renovation Tax Credit that will help seniors stay safer at home."

"Steps need to be taken to ensure that Ontarians who are Deaf or have a loss of hearing are protected," said MPP Lisa MacLeod. "Traditional fire alarms fail to protect some of our most vulnerable citizens that is why I am happy to stand with The Canadian Hearing Society in their call for changes," MacLeod continued.

Chief Tim Beckett President Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs (OACF) said, "The Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs is committed to relentless pursuit of ensuring that all citizens in Ontario are protected from the effects of fire. Although we have smoke alarm legislation, a number of our citizens have hearing difficulties and may have difficulty hearing activated fire alarms. We welcome the call to government to make changes to legislation that will protect Ontarians who are hearing challenged are also protected to a high level in the areas they should feel the safest...their homes."

"The OMFPOA supports the initiative brought forward from the CHS to have visual fire alarms included in the fire code, and as a part of the Ministry's Assistive Devices Program. Early warning detection is key in a prompt and safe escape from fire. Everyone deserves the same level of safety and early warning detection. Fire does not discriminate," says Chantelle Cosgrove, Fire Prevention Officer Brampton Fire & Emergency Services.

"This is a simple and straightforward bill that will save lives. We are in full support of it," says MPP Cheri DiNovo, NDP Community and Social Services critic.