Do you include hearing impaired people in your fire risk assessment?

Do you include hearing impaired people in your fire risk assessment?

This Deaf Awareness Week, the Essex County Fire and Rescue Service is raising awareness of safety measures to ensure those who are hard of hearing can be alerted in the event of a fire.

The Service’s protection team works with businesses to ensure steps are taken to reduce the risk of fire to keep staff and customers safe.

Their tips below can help you create your fire risk assessment while taking the hearing impaired into consideration.

If you need advice on business fire safety, the Service’s fire safety officers can help you. Please contact your local team at:

Fire risk assessment

As part of your fire risk assessment, you need to identify those at risk in the event of a fire.

To do this, you must include all staff working on your premises,

members of the public, customers, contractors who are on the premises. You should consider all people using the premises, paying particular attention to people who may need special assistance with evacuation, this includes people who are deaf or hard of hearing.

You may need to discuss their individual needs and complete a Personal Emergency Evacuation Plan (PEP).

When arranging a PEP for a deaf or hard of hearing person, the following points should be discussed:

  • Does a person work alone in the building?
  • Does a person work in remote areas?
  • Does a person work after hours?
  • Can a person hear the fire alarm?
  • Are there other staff/fire marshals who can alert someone?

In circumstances where evacuation procedures involve other persons present on the premises, who may alert people who are hard of hearing, conventional audible alarm signals will not require any special provision to warn of a fire.

The same rule will apply with regard to hearing-impaired persons who have a sufficiently clear perception of certain types of conventional sound alarm signals.

In situations where people who are deaf or hard of hearing work in isolated areas, out of hours, or on the move, other types of devices are available to alert them to fires, such as fire alarms. Visual (VAD).

If they sleep in the building, tactile devices, with or without associated visual alarm devices, might need to be considered.

These devices, which can, for example, be placed under pillows or mattresses, can be hardwired into circuits of fire alarm devices or be triggered by radio signals.

Alarm devices for people who are deaf or hard of hearing can be fixed, mobile and portable.

British Standard 5839-1 provides further guidance and specification in terms of fire alarm warnings for people who are deaf and hard of hearing.

Additionally, Building Regulations England and Wales Approved Document M provides guidance on the provision of visual alarm devices to warn deaf and hard of hearing people of fires to comply with building regulations .

If you or someone you know has impaired hearing, the Essex County Fire and Rescue Service offers free home fire safety advice to all Essex residents. The team can come to your home to help you prevent the risk of fire in your home and ensure that you are alerted by smoke alarms. The Service offers sensory smoke alarms for people who might not be triggered by an audible alarm.

To book a home fire safety visit or speak to the team visit: or call 0300 303 0088