The Boston Fire Department urged people this week to take advantage of a program that installs a free bed shaker alarm in the homes of deaf or hard of hearing people to help alert them to a fire, according to a tweet from the department.
“We go out, and we hear concerns about people not being able to hear the alarms,” said Lieutenant Hank Perkins, the department’s community education officer, in a telephone interview this week, who conducts fire safety presentations. “If you do wear hearing aids, you can’t wear them at night so that was one of the concerns, so we just figured we [will] just try to help out people that were deaf and hard of hearing.”
Since starting the program, the department has installed 94 bed shaker alarms and ordered 150 total. The alarms are part of the Fire Safety for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing program and are funded through a $58,000 Fire Prevention and Safety FEMA grant, which was awarded to the department in September 2020, according to FEMA.
However, Perkins stressed that they won’t run out of bed shaker alarms any time soon — they can get them from the American Red Cross or from other fire departments. A bed shaker alarm, he explained, will vibrate the bed when it detects the sound of a smoke alarm, and some are installed with a strobe light that goes off as well.
Another program from the department that’s funded by a state grant installs free smoke and carbon monoxide detectors for low-income, one- and two-family senior homeowners in their primary residence, Perkins said.
The detectors have 10-year batteries, so older people don’t have to climb up and down to change the batteries, Perkins said.
These programs, he explained, are meant to help those who might not be able to afford it.
“We’re here for the community,” said Perkins. “We can offer this service for anyone that’s in need because … they’re free.”
People looking to request a free bed shaker alarm or smoke and carbon monoxide detectors can visit the city of Boston’s fire website or call Perkins at (617) 343-2172 or Community Coordinator Michelle McCourt at (617) 343-3337.