Springfield, Mass. Fire Department Wins 2013 Jensen Grant

The $5,000 grant will support a fire safety education initiative in multiple languages and for residents older than 65.

The National Fire Protection Association last week chose the Springfield Fire Department of Massachusetts as the recipient of the $5,000 2013 Rolf H. Jensen Memorial Public Education Grant. The grant money 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, and the initiative also is aimed at residents older than 65.

"According to the Springfield Fire Department's program description, the city has experienced a sharp decline in industry, jobs, and population over the past few decades. It has one of the highest rates of concentrated poverty in the United States. In 2010, 88 percent of building fires in Springfield 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," NFPA said in its March 21 announcement of the choice.

The Springfield fire safety program will be conducted mainly at cultural and community centers, using this approach to evaluate the success of the program: a before-and-after comparison of volume of emergency responses, instructor evaluations, and a brief survey to be completed by residents.

The Jensen Grant is named in honor of Rolf H. Jensen, P.E., founder of RJA Group, Inc., one of the largest fire protection consulting firms in the world. Recipients are chosen based on demonstration of a plan to implement a community-wide fire and life safety program/campaign; clearly stated goals and objectives; staff assigned to implement the project; and a final summary report.

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