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Springfield Fire Department, Springfield, Massachusetts, is the winner of the 2013 Rolf H.Jensen Memorial Public Education Grant . The $5,000 grant will support the department’s “Multi-Language Public Education Fire Safety Initiative”concentrating on Springfield’s growing population of Somali, Russian, Nepali,Vietnamese, and Latino immigrants. The initiative will also reach out to residents over the age of 65.
Springfield has experienced a sharp decline in industry, jobs, and population over the past few decades and has one of the highest rates of concentrated poverty in the United States. In 2010, 88 percent of building fires took place in residential properties, with unattended cooking or unsafe cooking practices accounting for 61 percent. English is spoken as a second language in 34 percent of households, compared with 21 percent statewide.
Fire safety programs will be conducted primarily at cultural and community centers. The program will be evaluated using a three-part approach: a before-and-after comparison of volume of emergency responses, instructor evaluations, and a10-question survey completed by residents.