Should mass notification systems, like mobile messaging services, be relied on to notify Deaf and Hard of Hearing people in the event of an emergency?
Mass notification systems, like mobile phone text messaging services, are increasingly being used as a form of communication during an emergency. They connect to a pre-existing alarm panel, sending out an emergency text, email, WhatsApp, or voice message in the event of an emergency or evacuation within a building.
However, it is extremely dangerous and irresponsible to rely on these systems as a form of notifying a Deaf or Hard of Hearing person, for several reasons. The most important of these reasons is that a mobile phone text message system does not meet the relevant building relegations, making your building or buildings unsafe for people who may not hear your fire alarm in the event of an emergency.
With current technology, mobile phone systems do not meet British or European fire safety standards, such as BS5839. This British Standard has a specific section (18) dedicated to the special requirements needed for ‘fire alarm warning systems for people with impaired hearing’.
Within this section, there are many points where a mobile text system fails to meet the standards required. This must be adhered to as it is seen by industry experts as the minimum acceptable standard that should be considered safe to use. Alerter Group with years of industry knowledge and its own R&D facilities feel it is important not to cherry-pick areas and ignore others, as some suppliers appear to do, making them none compliant.
For more information on why mobile phone solutions should not be used to notify Deaf and Hard of Hearing people in the case of an emergency please download our PDF