Canadian Hearing Society
  • Font size:
    A A A
  • Display mode:
Login Register
Donate Now
Search…

Sightline to safety

New Fire Safety Program To Provide Education, Support To the Deaf, and Hard of Hearing 

By Adam Ledlow  

Public fire safety education is about saving lives, but the way the information is delivered may mean some groups don’t receive the information they need. Some fire officials and stakeholder groups like CHS agree that the conventional method of distributing fire safety information has not typically been as accessible for people who are culturally Deaf, oral deaf, deafened, and hard of hearing, nor has the information itself been geared towards their unique communication needs. 

Severn Fire and Emergency Services and Brockville Fire and Emergency Services are two groups working toward correcting this through a new pilot program called Sightline to Safety. Working in partnership with CHS, the program will be widely promoted in their local communities and will ask that people who are culturally Deaf, oral deaf, deafened, and hard of hearing register with the fire department and sign up for home assessment. This means if a fire occurs at their home, the communicator and fire fighters will know that the residents are deaf or hard of hearing which will enable them to respond efficiently. 

When fire prevention officers come to the homes of these individuals on a home assessment visit, they will educate the occupants on prevention, detection and escape in the event of a fire emergency. The visit will also include a review with the occupants to determine the proper alerting systems and/or equipment that are required in the home, such as visual fire alarms (see sidebar on pg. 26 for more details on visual fire alarms). Once a determination on the required equipment or devices has been made, if the occupant is deemed eligible, there may be opportunities for financial assistance, either via the fire department or CHS referral. Follow-up visits by the fire prevention division will also be made periodically after the initial visit to ensure that the equipment is being maintained properly and fire safety practices are being upheld. 

“The program was created to reach the people who slip through the cracks with our normal educational material, such as news stories and radio interviews,” said Dianne Kyle, fire prevention officer for the Township of Severn, and one of the key proponents behind the creation of the Sightline to Safety program. “The ultimate goal is to educate the Deaf and hard of hearing about fire safety and equipping them with the devices they need for early warning.” 

“Sightline to Safety is an important program and an important step towards ensuring members of the culturally Deaf, oral deaf, deafened, and hard of hearing community have received adequate and appropriate education about prevention, detection and escape in the event of a fire,” said Brockville’s now retired Chief Fire Prevention Officer Randy Burke, another key force behind the program’s creation. “Working 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 through giving them the right knowledge and the right equipment to keep their homes safe.” 

“Both fire education officers have been so dedicated in getting this program off the ground, so we are extremely excited to see it launch. We congratulate them for their commitment to ensuring all community members receive the information they need to keep themselves safe in their homes,” says Anna Strati-Morrison, CHS’s regional program manager for Belleville, Kingston, and Brockville. 

“As well as educating members of our community on fire prevention, the program gives us an opportunity to inform them about the many other programs and services that CHS has to offer.” At present, Severn Fire and Emergency Services and Brockville Fire and Emergency Services 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 ultimately follow suit. 

For more information on Sightline to Safety, contact CHS’s Jo Ann Bentley via phone (416-928-2500 ext. 318), TTY (1-877-215-9530), or email ( jbentley@chs.ca).

Back to Top