PITTSBURGH — In January, the Tenney family escaped their burning home.

The family lost everything except the clothes that they were wearing the night of the fire. Aric Tenney, 13, who was born completely deaf in his right ear from aural atresia, saw and felt the smoke alarm going off, unlike the rest of his family.

The smoke alarm, meant for those who are deaf or hard of hearing, includes a traditional smoke detector on the ceiling, a receiver equipped with a strobe light and a vibrating disc that will shake the entire bed from underneath the mattress. Some units are also equipped with a vibrating pager.

These units are cost prohibitive

“Insurance isn’t going to cover it. There’s not a funding source,” said Amy Hart, president and CEO of Center for Hearing and Deaf Services. “People with hearing loss who need this equipment are in that situation, not because they don’t want to be safe, but because they can’t afford to be safe.”

Pittsburgh Fire Chief Darryl Jones applied for federal grant money to cover the expenses of these special smoke alarms. The fire bureau received a $1 million federal grant for households within city limits. The grant also covers fire safety training, which recipients of the smoke alarm will have to attend.

The city is still deciding on how to distribute the alarms. If you could benefit from this device — and you live within city limits — you can send an email to The Center for Hearing and Deaf Services at smokedetector@hdscenter.org.