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Fire grant used to help the hearing impaired in Forsyth
Laura Coleman, fire prevention training officer with the Forsyth County Fire Department, installs a bed-shaker unit designed to alert a hearing impaired person of smoke or fire in their home. The agency has several of the devices to give out to those in need. - photo by For the Forsyth County News

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By: Joshua Sutton

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FORSYTH COUNTY — A house fire is one of the biggest fears for most residents, and that danger can increase if a family member is hearing impaired.

The Forsyth County Fire Department is trying to help ease some of those concerns, thanks to a $3,000 Chesney Fallen Firefighter Memorial Grant award. It’s using that money toward fire alarms specifically made for the hearing impaired.

“There are two different devices,” said Laura Coleman, fire prevention training officer. “One of the devices is a strobe light with an audible alarm … which is a T3 [smoke detector].

“And the other one, what happens is it will hear the T3 alarm, and … once it goes through three times will actually shake the bed.”

To date, the department has given out four of the devices to local families, but has several more as part of the first-time effort.

“We are trying to find those that need them, and also that financially cannot afford them on their own,” Coleman said. “We have a total of 24 of the bed-shaking devices, and 10 of the strobes.

According to Coleman, the devices have different uses throughout the day. She added that the bed shakers aren’t typically recommended for children younger than 10.

“So really if someone has profound deafness and they don’t have anything to direct it, they may need the strobes during the day.” she said. “We actually had a family that the entire family had profound deafness, but we gave the bed shaker to the parents and worked with them with fire escape planning.”

And the memorial grant has a local connection.

“It is done by the Georgia Firefighter Burn Foundation, they offer the Brant Chesney Grant once a year,” Coleman said. “He passed away in a [1996] Forsyth County fire. He was a volunteer with us and then a career firefighter with Gwinnett.”