REGION – A number of area communities received state awarded grants to educate students and seniors on fire safety and prevention earlier this year.
The state specifically awarded $21,200 in combined Student Awareness of Fire Education (SAFE) grants to Shrewsbury, Westborough, Southborough and Hudson.
These towns also received $12,220 in Senior SAFE grants in addition to their standard SAFE grant awards.
Northborough did not receive a standard SAFE grant, but the town did receive $2,855 in Senior SAFE funding for 2022.
SAFE grants are intended to be used for education for students, giving departments the opportunity to work directly with students.
Shrewsbury, for example, intends to use its funding to teach pre-K through sixth grade students fire safety lessons.
Westborough intends to use funds to teach a fire safety program to pre-K through third grade students. It is also planning a dorm safety program for Westborough High School seniors.
Lessons taught in the school-based programs are intended to conform to the standards of both the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education Health Curriculum framework, as well as the Department of Fire Services’s Curriculum Planning cGuidebook.
As those other grants fund school education programs, Senior SAFE grants are primarily used for Senior Center presentations, as well as home visits with smoke and carbon monoxide alarm installations.
Towns like Westborough, Southborough and Shrewsbury will also install lock boxes for seniors to give fire departments easy access to enter homes in case of an emergency.
This mirrors a recent work in Hudson, which saw its Select Board vote last month to approve a federal grant application seeking money for those kinds of lock boxes.
“If we had some more boxes, we could gain access to a home for someone who is less ambulatory and couldn’t come to the door so we could render aid,” Fire Chief Bryan Johannes told the Community Advocate after that Select Board vote.
The SAFE program began in 1996.
Officials argue that it has led to a significant drop in child fire deaths in Massachusetts. In 2021, Massachusetts marked two and a half years without a child fire fatality, the longest in its history, according to the Department of Fire Services.