Special smoke detector alerts people with hearing impairments

Reporter: Gina Tomlinson
Published: Updated:

Weeks after a Fort Myers firefighter used sign language to help a deaf man out of the smoke, he has a heartwarming visit.

Dennis was happy to see his friend, Deke. Photo via WINK News.
Dennis was happy to see his friend, Deke. Photo via WINK News.

Dennis from Fort Myers may not be able to hear, but it was evident when he saw Captain Mike Deke step into his home, it brought smiles. It’s been a month since the 911 emergency call at Dennis’ home.

“It said there was smoke showing and there was a deaf resident there,” Deke said, from the Fort Myers Fire Department. “My engine was the first on scene.”

Using sign language, Captain Deke was able to direct Dennis out of the smoke, understand his medical history and help calm him down.

“For him, it made it a lot more hectic, emotional and scary because no one was able to communicate and he couldn’t hear what was going on,” Deke said.

On Wednesday, Captain Deke and other firefighters installed a special smoke detector for the hearing impaired into Dennis’ apartment.

“There’s over 60,000 deaf or hard of hearing people in the southwest Florida area,” Alicia Miller said, executive director of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Center. “I think the need for this equipment is huge.”

When smoke rises, a giant light starts flashing, which makes a sound loud enough to trigger a nearby alarm. That makes a sensor start shaking a person’s pillow, to alert the man or woman to get out in the event of a fire.

“Especially the fire department,” Deke said, about the alert. “We’re here to help citizens in need that can’t help themselves.”

For Captain Deke, the help has close ties to his heart.

“That is something that’s close to me,” Deke said. “With my sister being hearing impaired that I’m able to help with a situation like this.”


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