NFPA asks: how can safety professionals best reach immigrant communities?

Blog Post created by mikehazell Employee on Jun 2, 2011

Sharon Gamache From the May/June 2011 issue of NFPA Journal®
by Sharon Gamache, Program Director, NFPA High-Risk Outreach Programs, Public Education

I grew up in the fifties and sixties in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Back then, the city’s population was fewer than 80,000, and there wasn’t much diversity among its citizens.

Outreach Today, Sioux Falls’ roughly 155,000 inhabitants are much more racially and ethnic diverse. New census data shows that minorities make up 15 percent of the population, and a recent story in the Sioux Falls Argus Leader reports that there are students from 51 language backgrounds in the local school district. Many of the newcomers are refugees who arrived in the United States from countries as varied as Cambodia and Sudan, often with little preparation for their immersion in American culture. Many do not speak English.

http://nfpa.typepad.com/.a/6a00d8351b9f3453ef01538ed92e65970b-pi This kind of demographic shift poses particular challenges to fire safety professionals. In addition to language barriers, these new citizens may have cultural issues related to fire that safety professionals are unaware of. Larry Gray, public information officer for the fire department in Cleveland, Ohio, says that the city’s diverse population includes a growing number of residents from Somalia who did not use stoves in their home country, and that fires and injuries have occurred among people unfamiliar with their use.

Read Sharon's entire article in the online edition of NFPA Journal.

- Scott Sutherland