MILFORD, Mass. – Milford and Northbridge are among 13 towns in the region that will receive grant funds for the Student Awareness of Fire Education (S.A.F.E.) program, said state Sen. Richard Moore’s district office Wednesday.
Both Milford and Northbridge will receive $5,225 for the program, and the 13 towns will receive a total of $63,125. The S.A.F.E. program is a state-wide initiative that provides resources to local fire departments to conduct fire and life-safety education programs in grades K-12. The mission of the program is to enable students to recognize the dangers of fire, and, more specifically, the fire hazards that tobacco products pose.
“For 18 years, the S.A.F.E. program has effectively reduced child fire deaths while promoting fire safety and prevention,” said Moore, the Uxbridge Democrat. “We are now raising a generation of kids that are not only aware of the risks associated with fire but prepared to take action when necessary.”
Local recipients awarded grants include: Bellingham, $5,225; Blackstone, $4,625; Douglas, $4,625; Dudley, $4,625; Hopedale, $4,625; Mendon, $4,625; Milford, $5,225; Northbridge, $5,225; Oxford, $4,625; Southbridge, $5,225; Sutton, $4,625; Uxbridge, $4,625; and Webster, $5,225.
Since the start of the S.A.F.E. program, the Department of Fire Services has named 259 “Young Heroes,” children who put into practice the fire and life-safety lessons they learned in the classroom during a real-life emergency to save themselves or others. Many families claim they are alive today because their youngsters forced them to install smoke alarms and practice a home escape plan, reported an emergency or persuaded a grandmother to “stop, drop and roll.”
Of those “Young Heroes,” 11 lived in towns located in the Moore district, including Milford, Bellingham, Blackstone, Douglas, Oxford, Southbridge and Uxbridge.
“These kids are the face of the S.A.F.E. program,” Moore said. “They represent those brave and resourceful students who take the information they’ve learned and put it into action in a meaningful way. I applaud each and every fire safety personnel who have dedicated their time, energy and passion to teaching and empowering these students.”
Since the creation of the S.A.F.E. program in 1996, the average number of annual fire deaths of children under the age of 18 has plummeted by 70 percent, according to Moore's office. From 1996 to 2011, the average number of child fire deaths was 5.5 per year. During the 14 years prior to that, the average number of child fire deaths was 18 per year.
To learn more about the S.A.F.E. program, visit www.mass.gov and search for “S.A.F.E. Program.”