Fire department staying SAFE thanks to Baker

The town’s fire department received $6,658 in state grants from the Baker-Polito administration, part of the state’s Student Awareness of Fire Education (SAFE) and Senior SAFE programs, which seek to fund fire and life safety education for children and older adults.

Marblehead is one of 266 municipal fire departments that received funding through the program, a total of $1.9 million, according to the state fire marshal’s office.

“For more than 25 years, the S.A.F.E. grant program has provided hundreds of thousands of Massachusetts students with fire and life safety lessons that last a lifetime,” said Governor Charlie Baker in a statement. “We are glad that this year’s awards will support consistent, statewide, professional safety education in a record number of communities.”

Since the program launched in fiscal year 1996, the average number of children who die in fires annually has dropped by nearly 80 percent, and the state recently went three years without any child fire deaths, according to the statement. The Senior SAFE program was launched in fiscal year 2014, funding fire safety education for seniors, who face a disproportionate risk of dying in a fire at home.

“The Senior SAFE grants support home visits, smoke and CO alarm installations, and fire safety presentations delivered by firefighters in partnership with service providers,” said Lt. Governor Karyn Polito. “This valuable program gives older adults the tools, knowledge, and strategies to stay safe and independent at home.”

Every department that applied for funding for fiscal year 2023 was awarded funds.

“The SAFE and Senior SAFE grants represent a smart investment in fire safety,” said Secretary of Public Safety and Security Terrence M. Reidy. “Youngsters and older adults are historically at greater risk in house fires, but that risk can be reduced through the targeted outreach, education, and awareness programs like these.”

State Fire Marshal Peter J. Ostroskey said fire education programs like SAFE are part of the reason Massachusetts is one of the most fire-safe states in the nation.

“The SAFE and Senior SAFE programs bring trained firefighter-educators together with children and older adults to deliver age-appropriate fire and life safety lessons,” Ostroskey said. “I’m very glad that more communities than ever applied for this year’s grants.”