Michael Hazell

New literature summary published on fire alarms and people with Autism Spectrum Disorders

Blog Post created by Michael Hazell Employee on May 16, 2014

A new Fire Protection Research Foundation report: "Fire Alarms and People with ASD: A Literature Summary" has been recently published. Authored by Paul Kashmanian, this is a preliminary literature review of documentation on the impact of audible automatic fire alarm notification signals on persons diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). Topic areas to included in this literature review included:

  • General overview of Autism and ASD
  • Recent findings in scientific papers on sound and light sensitivity for those with ASD

Fire drills are an important part of a life safety and evacuation plan that should be practiced repeatedly in order for everyone to effectively respond to a real fire. Our first exposure to fire drills is typically conducted in the school setting. Both NFPA 101Life Safety Code, and NFPA 5000Building Construction and Safety Code, require both audible and visual signals in accordance with NFPA 72, National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code, and ICC/ANSIA117.1, American National Standard for Accessible and Usable Buildings and Facilities, in new and existing school facilities. The loud noise and flashing strobe light generated by the fire alarm system is intended to alert students and faculty. It has proven to be a useful tool in fire evacuation. For a person with ASD however, the sounds and bright lights may be a source of extreme unpleasantness, discomfort, seizures and confusion. No specific, scientific based literature looking at the response to fire alarms by people diagnosed with ASD was found. However, some general information is presented on sound and light sensitivities. In addition, some anecdotal information from first responders is included.

Review the new literature summary through the Foundation website. 

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