BOSTON -- The Baker-Polito administration announced that eight fire departments in North Central Massachusetts have been awarded public fire education grants totaling nearly $54,000.
The fire departments in Ashburnham, Lancaster, Lunenburg, Shirley, Townsend and Westminster each received a $3,754 Student Awareness of Fire Education grant.
The Fitchburg and Leominster Fire Department each received a $5,454 S.A.F.E. grant.
The S.A.F.E. grant program works with classroom teachers to deliver fire- and life-safety lessons to students.
"The S.A.F.E. Program has been instrumental in educating the next generation of fire-safe children for 24 years," said Gov. Charlie Baker. "The program is a great example of state and local governments collaborating with teachers to provide fire safety education to young people."
The average number of children dying in fires annually has dropped by 74 percent since the S.A.F.E. Program began.
The local fire departments also received grants between $2,400 and $2,800 for the Senior S.A.F.E. program, which works with older adults on fire and life safety.
State Fire Marshal Peter J. Ostroskey said about the grants: "The S.A.F.E. and Senior SAFE programs are having a great impact on the fire and life safety of our most vulnerable populations -- children and elders. The fire departments being supported in these public education efforts are increasing the safety of the people in their communities.
The S.A.F.E. Program provides $1.2 million through the Executive Office of the Public Safety and Security to local fire departments. The Senior SAFE Program provides $600,000 in grant funds from fees paid by tobacco companies to the Fire Standard Compliant Cigarette Program to ensure their products meet the fire safety requirements to be sold in Massachusetts.