North Shore fire departments receive grants for safety programs
Five North Shore fire departments received a $45,000 state grant to implement fire safety education for children and seniors.
This grant is part of a larger $1.8 million grant for statewide fire education. The Baker-Polito administration announced in February that 234 municipal fire departments across the Commonwealth would be part of this funding.
The awards were distributed through the Massachusetts Department of Fire Services’ Student Fire Education (SAFE) and Senior SAFE outreach programs.
Beverly, Danvers, Peabody, Salem and Topsfield all received funding as band members.
“Education is the key to fire prevention and knowing how to respond quickly and safely if you or your loved ones find themselves in a fire emergency is essential,” said Senator Joan. Lovely, D-Salem.
Raising fire education awareness is crucial, and keeping children and seniors safe is a top priority for fire departments.
“The SAFE and Senior SAFE programs support our most vulnerable populations, our children and our elders, and give them the tools to live safe and healthy lives,” she said. “I am deeply grateful that our local fire departments have received this funding and I know our communities are better off because of it. »
According to Lovely’s office, Beverly owes $6,275 in SAFE funds and $3,255 in Senior SAFE funds; Danvers owes $5,175 in SAFE funds and $3,055 in Senior SAFE funds; Peabody owes $7,575 in SAFE funds and $3,455 in Senior SAFE funds; Salem owes $6,275 in SAFE funds and $3,225 in Senior SAFE funds; and Topsfield owes $4,575 in SAFE funds and $2,885 in Senior SAFE funds.
Beverly Fire Department Chief Peter O’Connor echoed Lovely’s message in response to the money the department received.
“A part of [the money] goes towards educational material and part of it goes towards the actual delivery of that message,” O’Connor said. “The total grant amount will cover all program costs and we cost share at the city level, but that’s where a lot of the funding goes.”
The SAFE program was established in 1996 to give local fire departments the chance to teach fire safety and life safety to children in schools.
“The SAFE program is for students, school-aged students, so it focuses on very specific material that targets that age group…Each year we send firefighters to all public schools, from the kindergarten through third grade,” O’Connor said.
Following the success of the SAFE program, the Senior SAFE program was created just eight years ago with the goal of providing fire departments with the funding necessary to also educate the elderly, who are most at risk for death related to fires. The Senior SAFE program teaches seniors about fire prevention, home safety and how to prepare for a fire.
“For [them] we will try to develop programs with the seniors center or with other groups that have access to seniors to bring them into a forum where we can talk to them and just talk about the issues associated with fire safety as we grow old in life,” he said. “When it comes to fire issues, those are the two groups most likely to be affected by fires, which is why they’re targeting money there.”
These programs have made a huge difference in communities, and the statistics confirm it.
“If you look at the history of these programs, you can really see how beneficial they are to communities,” O’Connor said. “It helps us get out there a little bit more and get the fire safety message across and you could probably go back to the numbers and see the benefits of this program.”
According to Lovely’s office, since SAFE’s inception, the average number of child fire deaths has dropped by 78%. In 2021, Massachusetts marked two and a half years with no child deaths from fire, the longest period in recorded Commonwealth history.