AMESBURY — Following the tremendous success of the state’s Student Awareness of Fire Education grant program, the Department of Fire Services decided to expand the program to educate seniors as well, and Amesbury will be among the first communities to take advantage.
Fire Chief Jon Brickett announced this week that Amesbury has been awarded the first annual Senior SAFE grant, which will fund fire education and awareness initiatives geared toward local seniors.
In addition, the city will also receive the original SAFE grant as well, which funds fire education programs for children. According to Brickett, Amesbury has received the SAFE grant every year it has been offered.
Specifically, Amesbury will receive $4,686 for the SAFE program and $3,018 for the Senior SAFE program. Brickett credited firefighters Jeremy Bean, who doubles as the city’s SAFE coordinator, and Gerry Morrill, who has been heavily involved in the program for many years, with taking the initiative to apply for the grant and bring the funds back to Amesbury.
“I cannot take one ounce of credit for the success of the grant submittal and award other than that my name was on the top of the letter saying ‘Congratulations, Chief, you’ve been awarded the SAFE grant for FY14 and the new Senior SAFE grant,” Brickett said.
The SAFE program was first created 19 years ago to help educate young children about fire safety, and according to DFS, the average number of annual child fire deaths has decreased by 72 percent since that time. Given the program’s success, the DFS decided to expand the program this year to seniors as well, and this year Amesbury was one of 205 communities to receive funds.
“Seniors are the most vulnerable of populations at risk of fire-related deaths. This program is aimed at educating seniors on fire prevention, general home safety and how to be better prepared in the event of a fire,” said state Fire Marshal Stephen Coan in a letter to Brickett announcing the grant. “It is our hope that with this opportunity we can recreate the success with our older population that we have had with children.”