New program for free smoke detectors for deaf and hard-of-hearing announced

New program for free smoke detectors for deaf and hard-of-hearing announced

October 1, 2012

At the Center for Hearing and Speech, Mayor Annise Parker, the Houston Fire Department (HFD) and the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities (MOPD) recently announced the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) awarded the Houston Fire Department a $168,000 grant to purchase and install 2,000 smoke detectors for individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing during a press conference.

This is one of the largest grants ever awarded by FEMA and the DHS to purchase smoke detectors for individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing.

“Houstonians need to have a working smoke detector in their homes, including residents who are deaf or hard of hearing,” said Mayor Parker. “Every person has a right to be protected and be safe.”

The purpose of this grant is to provide funds to national, state, local or community organizations that are recognized for their experience and expertise with respect to fire prevention or firefighter safety programs and activities.

“Conventional smoke detectors can’t fully address the needs of people who are deaf or hard of hearing,” said Fire Chief Terry Garrison. “Due to this and to the fact that there are more than 10 million individuals who are deaf in the US, we applied for a special grant to address this very important need.”

The Houston Fire Department is required to match the grant with $33,600 of contributions from local companies and organizations. The companies that stepped up to the plate are: CenterPoint Energy, Saint Arnold Brewing Company, Marathon Oil, Devon, Gallery Furniture , Lion and the Houston Apartment Association (HAA).

The HAA supports this program and is informing its members about the availability of the visual smoke alarms to renters.

“Half of Houston’s population lives in apartments and we make special accommodations for many residents,” said HAA President Jenifer Paneral. “Apartment properties provide visual smoke detectors to qualified residents upon request.”

State law requires apartment owners and managers to provide for the visual smoke alarms, and they must be installed in the bedroom where the person with the hearing impairment sleeps, she said. The city’s grant program will be very helpful in getting them into more residents hands, she said.

The Houston Fire Department continues to encourage all citizens to have working smoke detectors in their home. HFD has already started installing these smoke detectors and expects to have all 2,000 installed by December of this year.

Assisting with this effort is the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities (MOPD), a division of the Department of Neighborhoods which designated to act as the primary advocate for the rights and needs of persons with disabilities and as a liaison between individuals with disabilities and the Mayor, City Council and City Departments.

“MOPD, along with the Houston Fire Department Public Affairs Office, is reaching out to all individuals in Houston and the surrounding area who are deaf or hard of hearing in order to register them for the free visual fire alarm program,” said MOPD Division Manager Elaine Roberts.

Last year, the Houston Fire Department installed nearly 4,000 smoke detectors in homes throughout Houston. Recognizing the need for smoke alarms for the Deaf, HFD Assistant Chief Thomas Munoz wrote the grant not only to increase safety, but to bring awareness.

Citizens May Apply by calling MOPD at (713) 284-1990 or emailing [email protected].

Learn more about smoke detectors and safety at


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