Innovators in fire technology, Geofire, launches the Deaf Alert, a safety device for the deaf and hard of hearing. The Deaf Alert is a digital, vibrating pillow alarm that uses ‘listening’ technology to activate on the specific sound of a home smoke alarm.

Geofire has manufactured fire safety products in the UK since 1972. The Deaf Alert will join the Agrippa acoustic product line which includes the battery powered fire door holder and closer.

Working smoke alarm

The acoustic technology used among Agrippa’s wire-free products allows the unit to learn the specific sound of the smoke alarm ensuring activation upon hearing only the specific sound rather than any loud noise.

In the event of the smoke alarm sounding, the Deaf Alert unit wakes the user by displaying a visual ‘FIRE’ warning, flashing high intensity LED lights and vibrating the pad under the user’s pillow. A shocking statistic from the Home Office reported that house fires without a working smoke alarm are around eight times more likely to result in a fatality.

Innovative fire safety product

We are proud to launch the Deaf Alert and extend our innovative fire safety product offering into the home"

As one in six people in the UK are living with hearing loss, a staggering amount of the population is vulnerable in the event of a house fire.

Andy Collinson, CEO at Geofire, said: “We are proud to launch the Deaf Alert and extend our innovative fire safety product offering into the home. Since the launch of the original Agrippa Pillow Alarm into hotels and commercial buildings in 2015, the demand for a product that could offer the same peace of mind in the home was staggering.”

Alarm clock function

During a time where more people are at home than ever before, it is an honor to be able to provide a solution that both protects, as well as, solves a problem for the deaf and hard of hearing community. Thanks to our distributors and online retailers, we have been able to ensure our products are available and accessible to all online during the pandemic.”

Powered by mains, with a backup battery supply, the Deaf Alert ensures fail-safe operation should power be lost and requires next to no installation. The compact and unimposing unit includes a LED time display and alarm clock function.

Share with LinkedIn Share with Twitter Share with Facebook Share with Facebook
Download PDF version Download PDF version

In case you missed it

Pocketalk Provides Instant Translations In 82 Languages For First Responders
Pocketalk Provides Instant Translations In 82 Languages For First Responders

Translation in an emergency setting is a challenge that first responders face on a daily basis. For example, London Luton Airport’s Fire Service would previously have to find a member of staff or a passenger that could help them translate, which is not always possible. As a last resort, the service would carry around a large flipbook containing numerous medical questions in a multitude of languages, but this did not solve the problem of understanding any responses. AI-Powered Language Translation Device Now they have a more instant device to provide a faster and easier way to communicate. It’s called Pocketalk, an AI-powered language translation device designed for instant and accurate two-way conversations at the touch of the button, even in noisy environments. Pocketalk supports 82 languages, addressing 90% of the world’s population. It has been used as an emergency communications tool to break down barriers between first responders like fire service staff and healthcare practitioners and their service users/patients. Quick, Easy, Calm Firefighters can use Pocketalk to communicate quickly, easily, and calmly with people at the scene of an emergency. It helps them to overcome language barriers and achieve a range of goals – from assessing injuries of people who don’t speak English as a first language to asking them for more information about an emergency situation. Organizations face a growing challenge to meet changing communication needs. For example, among the United Kingdom’s increasingly diverse population, around one in ten people do not speak English as their first language. In areas like London, this figure is around one in five people. Emergency Services Donations Healthcare providers including five UK ambulance services received donations and are using Pocketalk Following an announcement earlier in 2020 that 500 Pocketalk W devices were being donated to emergency services providers in Europe to help them deal with COVID-19, London Luton Airport’s Fire Service was one of the organizations to apply for units. Healthcare providers including five UK ambulance services - North West Ambulance Service NHS Trust, Avon Valley Community Responders, St Johns Ambulance (Norwich), St Johns Ambulance (Greater Manchester), and Special Ambulance Transfers – also received donations and are using Pocketalk. The parent company, Sourcenext, has an interest in language learning, which is where Pocketalk came from. The product vision was simple –to make it easy for people who speak different languages to understand each other. Pocketalk is now helping to break down language barriers all over the world. Awareness & Usefulness The best way to increase awareness of Pocketalk and its usefulness in an emergency situation is to get the devices in the hands of service users, the company says. “During the start of the COVID pandemic, we wanted to help people by donating devices to emergency services teams,” says Tomoaki Kojim, Senior Managing Director of Sourcenext Corp. “This, in turn, has helped these teams to understand exactly how it can be of benefit in an emergency —namely, by providing quick and accurate language translations, without the need for an interpreter (in person or on the phone).” Two-Way Communication Pocketalk helped to open up two-way communication quickly and save time for medical emergencies  For the London Luton Airport Fire Service, Pocketalk devices have helped to open up that two-way communication quickly. In medical emergencies, time can be crucial – Pocketalk not only helps them to save time but also to get a detailed account from the patient or any witnesses to an incident. It has also helped with general communication from the passengers, some of whom are distressed when trying to find the correct gate or which bus to catch as they leave the airport. No Language Barrier London Luton Airport Fire Service has not had to change any of its procedures after implementing Pocketalk, but they have been very happy to retire their translation book. It also reassures them that language is not the barrier it used to be when dealing with people during their working day. For them, implementing Pocketalk devices has been easy, and all operational members of staff at the fire station have had a short training session on how to operate the Pocketalk devices. The fire service has also loaned its spare device to passenger services assistants at the airport to help them with any potential communication issues. One challenge to implementing the device could be getting staff to learn how to use it and practice with it in training situations, so they can really rely on it in an emergency. That said, “Pocketalk is easy to use and does not take long to master,” says Kojim.

A Look At Emerging Technologies In The Fire Protection Industry
A Look At Emerging Technologies In The Fire Protection Industry

Innovation in the fire protection industry can oftentimes be slow to move forward, particularly when compared to other similar industries. This is because legislation, regulation, and enforcement, while all necessary proponents within the sector, can often slow the tide of revolutionary ideas. However, the ability to innovate in this industry can quite literally be a matter of life and death. The developing intricacies of modern infrastructure and the demand for more sustainable solutions must also fuel the need for innovation. Fortunately, there are many companies at the forefront of technical and digital transformation within the industry. At the NFPA Conference in June 2019, much of the chatter revolved around Smart Connected Things (SCoT) within fire protection systems.  Smart Technology Smart Tech can offer more accurate, efficient inspections and testing, which on its own is capable of saving lives These systems are now being used by both building owners and service providers to determine fire protection system conditions as well as helping to perform some critical testing functions remotely - which of course has been invaluable in 2020. Smart Tech can offer more accurate, efficient inspections and testing, which on its own is capable of saving lives and protecting valuable property. For example, if a warehouse has been equipped with smart tech solutions to observe water pressure and flow rates within a building sprinkler system, users can have a real-time view of how much water has been flowing per minute. This means that should a fire break out in a particular part of the building the flow rate within the sprinkler can be routed to that specific area to put the blaze out as efficiently and as quickly as possible. Advanced Smoke Detection Fire protection brands have made huge leaps forward in their quest to develop smoke detectors which meet with the UL 268 Safety Standards for 2020. The new standard requires that all smoke alarms and detectors must meet two critical benchmarks: Increased responsiveness to the new polyurethane foam tests. Ability to distinguish the difference between smoke aerosols from accidental fire sources and smoke aerosols from cooking sources. Basically, domestic smoke detectors must be able to understand the difference between materials, based on the kinds of smoke they emit when they catch fire. Detectors must also distinguish between the smoke produced as a by-product of cooking, or a “nuisance” fire, and a real fire, which could pose a threat to human life. Smoke & Flame Video Detection The new alarms feature “TruSense Technology”, which is designed to be able to differentiate between fast and smoldering flames and common false alarms. These technologies were developed in the hope that homeowners wouldn’t just simply remove smoke alarms or batteries due to frequent false alarms. Video Image Smoke Detection technology has been around the industry for a few years now, but full video detection is now being used to supplement it, in order to further the applications of this technology. A video image will then be processed by the software that then concludes whether the clip contains smoke or flames This tech uses video-based analytical algorithms that integrate cameras into advanced flame and smoke detection solutions. A video image will then be processed by the software that then concludes whether the clip contains smoke or flames. The algorithms used to distinguish smoke and flames can utilize several different metrics, such as a change in brightness, contrast and movement. Water Mist Suppression Systems Depending on the kind of system in place, these recognition tools can even offer security and other surveillance features too. This technology is ideal in locations with large surface areas, such as power plants, stadiums, shopping centers and warehouses and distribution centers, where a fire may be particularly challenging to locate using traditional methods. Flame Video systems trace fire to its origin to make for quicker, more effective extinguishment and evacuation. A major concern for most businesses in any industry is sustainability. Water mist suppression systems are able to fight fires using significantly less water than a traditional system. The water is stored under extreme pressure and is released using specialized sprinklers and spray heads. This enables the water is able to reach a far larger surface area since the droplets are much smaller. Exit Point Technology A water mist suppression system is also designed to cool down an area where fire and smoke are present, by blocking radiant heat and eliminating oxygen from the origin point. These systems are often used in areas that see a lot of foot traffic or buildings where the possibility of water damage would be detrimental. All Fire Alarm Systems must include notification appliances, such as bells, horns and strobe lights. Technological advances use directional sound to help evacuees determine the pathway to the fire exits But the latest devices now provide verbal instruction on what to do in the event of a blaze and tell people where to go to the nearest exit. It’s highly likely that evacuation may be hampered by black smoke and smog in a real-life emergency. This obviously makes visibility limited, thereby possibly making exit signs challenging to see. The latest technological advances use directional sound to help evacuees to determine the location and the pathway to the fire exits. New Sealing Sprinkler Guidance The audible sound is specially adapted to the human ear, meaning that someone could easily determine the direction and sound. While the previous entries in this list have been about products, it’s also absolutely vital that fire safety regulations are also developed alongside these products. Not only does this ensure the protection of occupants within the building, but also the structure of the building itself. For example, The Ministry of Housing, Government & Local Government announced tweaks to the Approved Document B (Fire Safety) which went into effect last November and applied to building works that started this January. These updates apply to blocks of flats and mixed-use buildings with top floors that are more than eleven meters above ground level. The legislation change means that C-PVC sprinkler pipes now need to be sealed with only specialist and approved products. The height threshold for a sprinkler system in residential flat blocks has been reduced from 30 to 11 meters.

Reducing Fire Safety Costs in UK Residential High Rise Buildings
Reducing Fire Safety Costs in UK Residential High Rise Buildings

Since the Grenfell tower tragedy in 2017, residential high-rise fire safety has become a top priority for tower block building managers. If a high-rise building is found to contain combustible cladding, then the standard ‘stay put’ policy is no longer considered safe, and instead a temporary ‘simultaneous evacuation’ strategy must be put in place until the cladding issue is resolved. Currently a Waking Watch protocol is the preferred option for ensuring resident’s safety, in order to coordinate a simultaneous evacuation in the event of a fire. But, due to the extremely high cost of Waking Watch, Fire Detection & Alarm systems are being used to help reduce and, in some cases, remove these costs, which can amount to upwards of £100,000 per year. After the Grenfell fire, official figures showed that there are 300 towers with ‘Grenfell-style’ Aluminum Composite Material (ACM) cladding. However, there are many different types of high-risk flammable cladding used on purpose-built blocks of flats, such as timber, high-pressure laminate (HPL) and polystyrene cladding. With more and more unsafe buildings being assessed, the scale of this issue continues to grow. Currently a Waking Watch protocol is the preferred option for ensuring resident’s safety The UK Government announced in 2018 that it would pay for the removal and replacement of unsafe cladding in councils and housing associations. However, there is no legal position stating that private landlords should not pass the cost of this work onto tenants, and with the high costs of replacement, along with mounting Waking Watch costs, private landlords are known to pass this cost to tenants in service charges. Along with the cost of cladding replacement, landlords are also charging tenants for the cost of expensive Waking Watch services. Approved fire alarm systems are fast becoming the preferred safety system, due to the reduced overall costs, as well as the NFCC (National Fire Chiefs Council) recommending these over Waking Watch services. Fire safety regulations in high-rise buildings Following the Grenfell tragedy, the Government issued notice that all buildings over 18m had to be assessed for combustible material in their external walls. Following this, in January 2020, the government also issued Advice for Building Owners of Multi-story, Multi-occupied residential buildings stating that “building owners are to consider the risks of any external wall system and fire doors in their fire risk assessments, irrespective of the height of the building” immediately, until a Fire Safety Bill is put in place. Approved fire alarm systems are fast becoming the preferred safety system In order to assess the fire risk of external wall systems of residential apartment buildings an EWS1 assessment (External Wall Fire Review) must be completed. This risk assessment form provides a ‘safe’ or ‘unsafe’ certificate for the building, and must be completed by a competent fire expert. Not only does an ‘unsafe’ certificate affect the owner of the building, with the need for new fire safety solutions, it also directly affects tenants, with mortgage lenders refusing to lend on a apartment until they are satisfied that the facade is safe. Until the building has completed the assessment and been deemed safe, all dwellings within the building are valued at £0, and cannot be sold. 'Unsafe' certificates Buildings that have been awarded an ‘unsafe’ certificate through the EWS1 assessment will need to implement temporary fire safety measures while the cladding is being removed. The key purposes of this guidance, outlined by National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) in May 2018 and then reviewed in October 2020, are: early detection of a fire, warning of building occupants, and management of the evacuation. The measures state: In order to prevent tenants from being removed from their homes, ‘Stay Put’ must be temporarily replaced by a ‘Simultaneous Evacuation’ strategy until the building has been remediated. Temporary protection measures must be introduced to ensure the safety of residents; either a 24/7 Waking Watch or a common Fire Detection & Alarm system designed to BS5839 Part 1 category L5 specification. Fire safety solutions Waking Watch is the quickest and easiest way to fulfill the requirements from the NFCC guidance. This solution requires a trained fire marshal or warden to patrol the building 24/7 and alert residents in the case of a fire. They will also be responsible for carrying out the Simultaneous Evacuation strategy and assisting residents’ evacuation. While the Waking Watch solution works well as an immediate solution to fire safety, the mounting costs of this fix means that it is unsustainable in most situations, with tenants facing unaffordable increases to their monthly rent in order to cover the costs. For example, reports into Raphael House, near Essex, show how a five-person 24-hour patrol costs £50,000 per month. This cost is split between the 154 flats, resulting in average costs of more than £300 a month for each resident. Issues with Waking Watch In addition to the cost, there are other issues associated with Waking Watch, including: Patrols cannot cover all areas of the building at all times No fire detection system within the flats themselves Not a long term solution The alternative solution to fire safety in high-rise buildings, as per the NFCC guidance, is to install a Fire Detection & Alarm system designed to BS5839 Part 1 category L5 specification. Although the upfront cost of these systems tend to be higher than a Waking Watch initiative, the overall expenditure, given the cost and time it takes to replace the cladding, far exceeds the cost of a fire alarm system. NFCC compliant fire alarm systems An NFCC compliant fire alarm system ensures early detection of fire and alert to residents. The BS5839 Part 1 category L5 systems do not replace the mains wired smoke alarms required in each apartment, but instead are installed in the common areas of the building in order to provide additional cover for these communal areas. These fire systems should be: Designed in accordance with BS5839, Part 1, category L5 Heat detectors should be installed throughout the building next to the windows that overlook an area of the external wall, including within the dwellings. An immediate evacuation signal should be triggered by the operation of any single heat detector. Installation of a new common area fire alarm system should not cause any further damage to the compartmentation or have an adverse effect on other provisions in the building. Comparison (Waking Watch vs Fire Alarm Systems) Cost: The government has outlined the average cost of Waking Watch in England as £17,897 per building per month, with the hourly rate per person undertaking Waking Watch duties ranging from £12.00 to £30.00 per hour. A total of £644,292 over 3 years. Additional charges for equipment, facilities, accommodation and services can also be applied. A suitable fire alarm system is likely to cost around £65,000 over the course of 3 years, for installation and yearly recurring costs. This means, over this period, installing a fire alarm system will save a total of £579,292. Long term solution: While both Waking Watch and a Fire Alarm System are considered short term solutions, many fire alarm systems can be adapted for future use once the cladding issue has been resolved, providing suitable infrastructure is created at the design and installation stage. Alerting the whole building at once: A Fire Alarm System is a more time efficient solution to detecting a fire than Waking Watch. The system is able to alert the whole building at the same time, allowing for the simultaneous evacuation protocol to be followed in a more time efficient manner. The NFCC states in their Simultaneous Evacuation Guidance... “NFCC strongly recommends that where a change to a simultaneous evacuation is deemed appropriate and will be required for medium to long periods of time that a temporary common fire alarm system is installed. This is because a temporary common fire alarm, when designed, installed and maintained appropriately is a more reliable and cost-effective way to maintain a sufficient level of early detection. An appropriate communal fire alarm and detection system will generally provide more certainty that a fire will be detected and warned at the earliest opportunity rather than rely on using trained staff.” With many residential high-rise buildings needing additional protection due to flammable cladding, and the excessive cost of Waking Watch, now is the time to consider a Fire Alarm System to keep residents in high-rise buildings safe.

vfd