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New fire safety education program geared towards residents who are Deaf or hard of hearing launches in Brockville/Peterborough/Severn

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For immediate release

Monday, October 7, 2013

New fire safety education program geared towards residents who are Deaf or hard of hearing launches in Brockville/Peterborough/Severn

(PETERBORUGH/BROCKVILLE/SEVERN, ON) –  Today, the Canadian Hearing Society (CHS) and three regional fire departments have launched a new fire education program targeted to residents who are culturally Deaf, oral deaf, deafened or hard of hearing called ‘Sightline to Safety’.

“The ultimate goal of ‘Sightline to Safety’ is to educate people who are Deaf and hard of hearing about fire safety and equipping them with the devices they need for early warning,” said Dianne Kyle, fire prevention officer for the Township of Severn, and one of the key proponents behind the creation of the program.

“Together with CHS, our goal is to reduce anxiety toward the subject of fire and instill confidence in people who are Deaf and hard of hearing by giving them the right knowledge and the right equipment to keep their homes safe,” said retired Chief Fire Prevention Officer for Brockville Randy Burke, another key proponent of the program.

Research shows that if a fire activates a smoke alarm in your home, you may have as little as two minutes to escape unharmed. But if you don’t hear the alarm, you may have no time at all.

“It is critical that Deaf and hard of hearing individuals have a visual smoke alarm in their homes because those alarms have a visual component such as a strobe light in addition to an audible alarm,” said Jo Ann Bentley, program director, Communication Devices and Accessibility Consulting at CHS.

Through a collaborative partnership, the fire departments of Severn, Brockville and later Peterborough, worked together with CHS to develop a program that asks people who are Deaf or hard of hearing to register with their local fire department and sign up for home assessment. Then, if a fire occurs at their home, emergency services dispatchers and fire fighters will know that the residents are Deaf or hard of hearing and can respond effectively.

The home assessments are done by fire prevention officers who educate the occupants on fire prevention, detection and fire escape planning. Fire prevention officers will also review the proper alerting systems and/or equipment required in the home to meet their needs, such as visual smoke alarms, fire alarm systems and visual carbon monoxide detectors.

“We are extremely excited to see this program launch with the dedication of the local fire education officers who worked hard to get this program off the ground. We thank them for their partnership and congratulate them for their commitment to ensuring all community members receive the information they need,” said Anna Strati-Morrison, CHS’s regional program manager for Belleville, Kingston and Brockville.

At present, Severn Township in Simcoe County, Brockville and Peterborough are the only jurisdictions that have approved the ‘Sightline to Safety’ program, but Bentley says she is hopeful other fire departments across the province will join the program.

For more information on ‘Sightline to Safety’, contact Jo Ann Bentley at 416-928-2506 ext. 318, TTY 1-877-215-9530 or or your local Fire Department. 

Severn Fire and Emergency Services

Orillia, Ontario


705-325-9131 ext. 248

Brockville Fire Department

613-498-1261 ext. 2504  

Peterborough Fire Services



 About the Canadian Hearing Society

The Canadian Hearing Society (CHS) was incorporated in 1940 to provide services, products and information to culturally Deaf, oral deaf, deafened, and hard of hearing people and to educate the hearing public.  CHS is governed by a board of directors, the majority of whom are deaf, deafened, or hard of hearing.  The organization is funded by government, internal revenue generation including fundraising, and the United Way.  For more information or to find your regional office, visit

CHS Media Contact:

Marie-Lauren Gregoire
Phone:  416-928-2500 ext. 272

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