:: Inside Bay Area | Fremont deaf get smoke detectors Federal grant allows fire department to provide life-saving equipment ::

Fremont deaf get smoke detectors Federal grant allows fire department to provide life-saving equipment

By Ben Aguirre Jr., STAFF WRITER
Article Last Updated: 04/08/2007

FREMONT — For almost a decade, the Fremont Fire Department has had a program to install smoke detectors in the homes of people who could not afford them.

Now, thanks to a federal grant, the department has been able to expand the program to include the hearing impaired, whose homes require a device that costs about 20 times more than a typical detector.

More than 150 special smoke detectors, which average about $150 each, have been purchased with the grant money, and they are being installed by fire volunteers, said Vic Valdes, a retired division chief who still coordinates fire prevention and disaster safety programs.

The department received the devices last month, and volunteers so far have installed 15 of them, Valdes said.

The device, which resembles smoke detectors often seen in city or county buildings, is affixed to the wall just inches below the ceiling, like regular detectors.

It will make loud noises when activated, he said. But it also emits a bright light designed to wake people up if they are sleeping, and also can be hooked up to a vibrating element that can shake a bed when activated, Valdes said.

“It’s very important to havethese,” he said. “One of the challenges we encounter in our community is that we have a fairly large deaf population, approximately 5,000.

“It’s a simple device, whether it costs $5 or $150, that can save someone’s life. We’re dedicated to ensuring safety in our community.”

Most of the recipients have been identified through the city’s human services department and must meet a short criteria list.

For more information about the program, or to learn how to receive a smoke detector, contact the fire department at (510) 494-4246, or by e-mail at FFDSmokeAlarm@ci.fremont

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