I live and work in Quincy, Massachusetts, a city with a population of a little over 92,000 that has seen considerable growth in its immigrant population. According to the 2010 Census, Quincy’s Asian population jumped to 22,174 in 2010 from 13,546 in 2000 and 5,577 in 1990. Asians currently make up 24 percent of the city’s population, and North Quincy, where I live, has the largest number of immigrants.
Many fire departments have seen a similar growth in immigrants in their communities, be they large cities or small towns. Fire and life safety educators, who must ensure that they reach everyone with their safety information and smoke alarm installation programs, often find that language and cultural differences between these populations and the fire department and other responders present challenges in communication and in responding to emergencies. For instance, immigrant populations may not be knowledgeable about fire prevention practices, such as the use of smoke alarms and home fire drills.
This Fire Prevention Week, we have posted materials detailing how to reach high-risk populations including immigrants. “Reaching Immigrants During FPW” provides resources for identifying immigrant populations in your community, whether through community leaders or websites such as the U.S. Census Bureau or Statistics Canada. It also includes ideas for activities that will help responders reach immigrants with fire safety information, such as working with local grocery stores and shops that specialize in food or clothing for specific ethnic groups or using NFPA’s easy-to-read cooking, electrical safety, and escape planning handouts in 14 languages.
What have you done in your community to reach immigrant populations?
Pictured are youth performing at a Quincy August Moon Festival.
- Sharon Gamache