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Deaf mum from Halliwell ‘couldn’t hear smoke alarms’

Posted Feb 20 2009 7:22pm

A young mum’s worst nightmare almost came true when a fire broke out in her home, the Bolton News has reported.

Becky Doughty has had impaired hearing since birth and often worried about not being able to hear the smoke alarms.

Forturnately, Miss Doughty, her partner, Eddie Keane, and their 14-month-old daughter, Leah, were out when a small fire started in their Halliwell home on Sunday afternoon.

But when they arrived home Miss Doughty could not hear the smoke alarms that had been triggered by a fire in the living room.

Now firefighters are planning to install flashing and vibrating alarms in their home, and they are urging other deaf people to get in touch and take advantage of the special alarms that could make the difference between life and death.

Miss Doughty, aged 23, and Mr Keane, aged 29, had moved into the house only a week earlier and were doing it up room by room.

The fire is thought to have started when an incense stick that had not been properly extinguished set alight a dust sheet on the living room floor.

When the family arrived home, the living room was full of smoke.

Miss Doughty said: “When we arrived at the house I could see the smoke, but couldn’t hear the alarm going off.

“When the firemen were clearing up all the mess, we mentioned to them that I was deaf and they immediately offered to fit a special smoke alarm.

“I was delighted because being caught in a fire is one of the things I am most scared of. I just can’t hear the alarm. I can’t even hear my baby when she is crying in the night, my partner has to wake me up.

“Thankfully, we were out of the house this time. I feel very lucky.”

Mr Keane said: “The firefighters were fantastic. They gave us a quick home risk assessment afterwards, which included good advice that we will follow from now on.”

A vibrating pad will go under Miss Doughty’s pillow and an alarm with a light and buzzer will also be installed in the house.

Crew commander Jim Rochford, of Bolton Central fire station, said: “The woman could not hear the smoke alarm, so we are going to arrange for a specialist smoke detector to be installed in their house.

“Anyone who needs one and fits the criteria can contact their local station for a free home risk assessment and one can be installed.”

The living room was damaged in the blaze and the sofa was destroyed.

The couple’s pet cockatiel was rescued by firefighters and has since recovered from the ordeal.

For more information about the Fire Kills campaign, see our recent article on fire safety.

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