SAFE began in 1996 as a state-wide initiative by the Office of State Fire Marshal Stephen Coan of the Department of Fire Services in Stow, Massachusetts. As reported on the DFS website, “The mission is to enable students to recognize the dangers of fire and more specifically the fire hazards tobacco products pose.” Using funding allocated annually by the Marshal’s office, each participating Massachusetts fire department is encouraged to offer its own unique program, designed to meet local needs. In addition, programs must address core objectives as established by the Marshal’s office. Because of the flexible nature of this system, there are literally several hundred “versions” of SAFE across the Commonwealth.
The SAFE program is offered each year to the fourth grades in Amherst, Pelham, Leverett and Shutesbury. Amherst firefighters serve as primary instructors, several having completed training by the Massachusetts Firefighting Academy in public safety education. Firefighters in Pelham, Leverett and Shutesbury assist during lessons as their time allows.
The program consists of 5 distinct seminars using slideshows, demonstrations, and discussion followed by a graduation ceremony.
Main Program Objectives
- Students will describe the characteristics and behavior of fire in a home setting; students will outline and demonstrate successful strategies for surviving a home fire.
- Students will create a home fire escape plan along with other family members, utilizing the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) EDITH model.
- Students will conduct home safety/ fire inspection audits along with other family members, with an eye to correcting immediately dangerous situations.
- Students will identify the potential fire dangers and health problems of smoking behaviors; students will describe home burn accidents and suggest prevention strategies.
- Students will demonstrate the proper way to place an emergency telephone call; students will describe the operation of 911 dispatching.