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This article was reproduced with the kind permission
of the British Broadcasting Corporation



Monday, 5 November 2007, 14:59 GMT
Fire officers learn sign language

Fire safety officers are learning sign language to help them install life-saving smoke alarms for the deaf.

The officers in Norfolk are studying deaf etiquette and methods of communication with people who have hearing difficulties.

The 10-week course has been specially written for the fire safety officers by Great Yarmouth College.

Brian Walshe, from Norfolk Fire and Rescue, said the course was perfect to equip officers with skills they need.

"With these social and language skills they can more easily explain how the flashing light alarms work and they will help householders to feel at ease when they home fire safety is assessed and smoke detectors are fitted," Mr Walshe said.

Specially written

"It is essential our assessors know how to communicate effectively with people who cannot hear.

"Also, there is all sorts of etiquette when speaking to deaf people that we might not necessarily understand. For example, we might think it is rude to point but it is a crucial method of communication for people who cannot hear.

"It made sense to have a course dealing specifically with fire safety so we gave the teacher our fire safety books and they were converted into sign.

"The teacher is deaf herself and has had an alarm fitted so knows what the officers need."

So far eight officers have undergone training.

College tutor Clare Parker wrote the course covering exactly the language officers would need to go through the necessary questions about fitting alarms and to explain how they work.