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How to get a free smoke alarm designed for those who are deaf or hard of hearing

The system works with existing smoke detectors to vibrate the bed or pillow and set off a flashing light to alert those who are deaf or hard of hearing.

INDIANAPOLIS — An apartment building fire that sent more than a dozen people to the hospital Wednesday morning included two units with four people in them that are deaf or hard of hearing. 

The Indianapolis Fire Department said those apartments didn't have alarms or bed shakers suitable for the deaf community. IFD wants the community to know they can help people install such an alarm system.  

Smoke alarms are loud, but only if you can hear them. A bed shaker is a fire safety device for the deaf or hard of hearing that is placed under the pillow or mattress and vibrates when the smoke alarm goes off, helping to wake someone who cannot hear the alarm.

"I think it's imperative if you're hearing impaired, just to have that extra comfort of being able to be alarmed when the smoke alarm goes off,” said IFD fire marshal Chief Mike Beard.

Credit: WTHR
IFD demonstrates a smoke alarm system designed to alert those who are deaf or hard of hearing of a house fire.

When smoke triggers the special alarm, a wireless signal goes to the bedroom receiver, which flashes a bright light. The bed shaker is wired to the receiver and vibrates when activated.  

RELATED: 10 kids, 3 adults taken to hospital after fire at apartment complex on Indy's east side

IFD will provide the system free of charge to people in need who have people who are deaf or hard of hearing in their household. IFD installs the system.  

"We just want to verify that it's installed properly, they understand how the system works and that it goes where it needs to go,” said Beard. 

Smoke alarms for the deaf or hard of hearing may be requested through a form on the IFD indy.gov website.

No one suffered serious injuries in Wednesday's fire at the Pangea Apartments on the eastside of Indianapolis. Twelve units were impacted by the fire and 13 residents (10 children and three adults) were transported to area hospitals with non-life-threatening injuries. One of the patients transported was a 21-day old infant. One of the juvenile patients jumped from the second-story window.  

"Smoke detectors are there for you,” said Beard. “They're not to stop fires. They help you get out in time where you can save your life and the life of the people that live in your home, your family. If an alarm is going off, it's there to notify you."

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