Reading awarded $7,961 in state fire safety grants

BOSTON – State Representative Richard Haggerty (D-Woburn), House Minority Leader Bradley H. Jones, Jr. (R-North Reading), and State Senator Jason Lewis (D-Winchester) recently joined with the Baker-Polito Administration to announce the Reading Fire Department has been awarded $7,961 in state fire safety grants.

A total of $1.9 million in grants are being distributed by the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security to fire departments in 235 communities. Reading’s award includes a $5,281 grant funded through the Student Awareness of Fire Education (S.A.F.E.) program, as well as a $2,680 Senior SAFE grant.

Established by the Massachusetts Legislature in 1996, the S.A.F.E. program provides funding on an annual basis for municipal fire departments to offer fire safety education in schools. As part of the program, students are taught 23 key fire safety behaviors, including how to recognize the dangers of fire as well as the fire hazards associated with tobacco products.

The Senior SAFE program was created to support fire prevention training for seniors, who are among the most at risk for fire-related deaths. The program works with agencies serving seniors and local fire departments to teach older adults how to reduce fire safety hazards in their homes.

“Ensuring we properly fund our public safety officials so they have the means to protect and keep our communities informed is of the upmost importance,” said Representative Haggerty. “This nearly $8,000 in grant money will ensure the Reading Fire Department has the critical funding it requires to continue keeping the town and its residents safe through fire safety education and prevention.”

“The S.A.F.E. program and the Senior SAFE program have both proven to be tremendously successful in raising fire safety awareness and reducing fire deaths among some of our most vulnerable populations,” said Representative Jones. “My thanks to the men and women of the Reading Fire Department for everything they do to keep the town’s residents safe.”

“With many families spending more time at home than ever before, community-wide fire safety education and prevention resources are crucial to keep our community safe,” said Senator Lewis. “I’m very pleased that the Reading Fire Department will receive state support to keep up their great work educating the public about fire prevention and safety.”

According to State Fire Marshall Peter J. Ostroskey, during the 26 years the S.A.F.E. program has been in existence, child fire deaths have been reduced by 78%. In 2020, 39 people died in fires in Massachusetts, compared to 42 in 2019, but none of those deaths involved children.

“S.A.F.E. is an example of the many successful and valuable programs that the legislature and the governor support on behalf of the citizens of the Commonwealth,” Ostroskey noted. “We are thankful to the legislature for their support of these vital programs, and thankful for expanding S.A.F.E. to include older adult fire prevention education. Additionally, we appreciate and applaud the continued efforts of local fire departments to maintain the highest level of service and professionalism to their communities.”