The Groton Fire Department kicked off its part of the state Senior SAFE program last week with a Firehouse Chili and Cornbread lunch with 40 area residents at the Groton Senior Center, according to Chief Joe Bosselait. Groton is one of 205 fire departments that received a state grant aimed at reducing the number of elderly Massachusetts residents killed by fires. Groton received $4,086 dollars in its award, and the Senior SAFE program is earmarked to receive $2,818 of that. The remainder funds its Student Awareness of Fire Education program.
Boisselait said, “It was Fire Department Chili Day, where we cook chili and corn bread and serve the seniors, I also gave my safety talk, Captain Susan Daly went over the free smoke and CO detector program we offer to the seniors, and this year we added a house numbering program where we will purchase and install a house number at the street for quicker response to finding a house for an emergency call.”
According to a press release from the state fire marshal’s office:
“People over 65 account for 42% of the fire deaths in Massachusetts.
State Fire Marshal Stephen Coan said, “The Senior SAFE Program is modeled on the Student Awareness of Fire Education or SA.F.E. Program that has reduced child fire deaths by 72% in the past 19 years. We expect that we can have the same impact on senior fire fatalities.”
State Representative Kate Hogan, a lead sponsor of the Senior SAFE Program in the legislature said, “Over the last few years I was shocked by the tragic loss of life of seniors in my district from fire and carbon monoxide poisoning. The Senior SAFE Program was the best response to this critical situation. It builds on the success of the school-based Student Awareness of Fire Education Program that has significantly reduced annual child fire deaths. The fire service expects to have a similar impact for older adults.”
Senior SAFE aims to improve the safety of older adult homes. Programs may include the installation of smoke and carbon monoxide alarms, testing and replacing batteries in these devices, the installation and checking of house numbers, high end heat limiting devices on stoves, in-hood stove fire extinguishers, nightlights, and other fall prevention interventions. In addition to installing any of these important safety devices, education specific to their circumstances is a crucial component of improving the safety of older adults at home.
Senior SAFE is funded by fees collected through the Fire Standard Compliant Cigarette (FSC) Program that enforces the law that sets ignition resistance standards for all cigarettes sold in Massachusetts. Smoking has been leading cause of fatal fires since World War II. Only since passage of this legislation, has it not always been the #1 cause of fatal fires. The Administration requested and the Legislature amended the Fire Standard Compliance Cigarette law to allow the fees paid by tobacco companies to be used to support the Senior SAFE Program.