GT Metro Emergency Services Offers Customized Outreach for People with Disabilities


Hearing, sight, mobility, and cognitive impairments all increase the layers of fire and safety risks for people with disabilities.  By raising the level of fire and life safety awareness for the disability community, and for the surrounding population, we can eliminate many risks.

In 2010, Grand Traverse Metro Fire Department was awarded the Rolf H. Jensen Memorial Public Education Grant.   Along with funding through the Quota International Club of Traverse City, and the Fireman’s Fund/HUB International these funds help to support the fire department’s fire and life safety public education initiative for people with disabilities, called Customized Outreach Project. The Customized Outreach Project is a fire and life safety public education initiative which focuses customized fire and fall prevention messages and home escape plans for those facing the obstacles of; mobility impairment, hearing loss or deafness, sight impairment or blindness, and/or cognitive impairments.  The program recognizes that the typical and traditional fire safety messages that are delivered through public education do not always reach or fit every audience.

In response to the request from the Deaf community for improved communication with First Responders, Emergency Sign Language for First Responders classes are availablethrough Metro Fire Department for Firefighters and First Responders with the existing partnership agencies.  The course offers in four 2.5 hour classes and allowed for 10 medical continuing education credits.  Content included the manual alphabet, American Sign Language for emergency situations, the use of facial expressions and gesturing, and additional options such as writing as a form of communication.  Additionally an annual Refresher course is also available.  Both classes are offered in November / December.

Emergency Sign Language & Communication Resource Book

People who are Deaf or are hard-of-hearing face unique challenges in an emergency. Their ability to detect a fire or escape its effects may be hindered by their impairment. As a result, people with these impairments are at a great risk of death or injury due to fire.

In order to provide an additional layer of safety, the Grand Traverse Metro Fire Department, in partnership with Grand Traverse Industries, has created theCustomized Outreach Emergency Sign Language and Communication Resource Book. These books may be carried in emergency vehicles and accessed by first responders during an emergency call that involves an individual(s) who are Deaf or hard-of-hearing.

The book includes general signs and signals for accessing and communicating basic information, to aid in medical response, on a fire scene, and during law enforcement situations. In a true emergency, when minutes make a difference, this book can help bridge the communication to make a potential difference between life and death.

For more information or to purchase copies of this book please stop by Metro Fire Admin Office at 897 Parsons Rd, Traverse City MI 49696 or call at (231) 947-3000.




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Disability Network Northern Michigan

415 E. Eighth St.
Traverse City, MI   49686

Phone: (231) 922-0903

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