A number of firefighters in South Yorkshire are now able to deliver vital safety advice to hard of hearing and deaf people thanks to students and tutors at Communication Specialist College Doncaster. 

Crews in Doncaster have been learning basic British Sign Language (BSL) in order to improve their communication skills when attending incidents in their local communities.

Tutors tailored the sessions specifically to the needs of the fire service to include words and phrases that would be needed in the event of a fire.

To put their new skills to the test, crews also took part in a realistic fire exercise based in the residential facilities at the college. Students played a part in the scenario which saw firefighters having to communicate using BSL in order to direct students safely of out the building. 

Station Manager Thomas Hirst said: “It can sometimes be harder for firefighters to communicate with people who are deaf or hard of hearing, particularly when in an emergency situation. Being able to communicate safety messages in a quick and concise manner when the time arises is vital, so learning some basic sign language skills in this way will be of huge benefit to crews.”

Fire Community Safety Officers have been visiting pupils at the college to deliver fire safety training sessions on what to do in the event of a fire and how to prevent one from occurring.

Stacey Betts, assistant principal at Communication Specialist College Doncaster, said: “We are really pleased to be working closely with the fire service and believe that this will be hugely beneficial to our students.

“We’ve helped to provide Deaf Awareness training to the team and they are helping our students become more aware of fire safety. This is a great example of how partnership working can benefit organisations.”

Fire safety information in British Sign Language can be accessed on South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue’s website here http://www.syfire.gov.uk/safety-advice/information-for-people-with-disabilities/