ProLiteracy Receives Federal Grant to Raise Awareness of Fire Safety

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FEMA grant in partnership with Syracuse Fire Department.

ProLiteracy, the largest adult literacy and basic education membership organization in the nation, announced today that it has received a 2012 Assistance to Firefighters Grant as part of the Fire Prevention and Safety Grant program under the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA).

The project, currently titled Get Alarmed, North Side!, is in collaboration with the Syracuse Fire Department and will help residents of Syracuse’s North Side, especially immigrant and refugee families who may have limited literacy or English-language skills, learn critical information about fire prevention and home safety. The project will also work with community organizations that serve this population.

"More than 1,000 refugees from almost 90 countries resettle in Syracuse every year, and 95 percent of them are resettled on the North Side," says Kevin Morgan, president and CEO of ProLiteracy. "ProLiteracy and the Syracuse Fire Department are targeting this community because language and cultural barriers can make it difficult for individuals to obtain critical safety information. We’re grateful to FEMA for supporting this project, and we’re excited to work with the Syracuse Fire Department on an important issue."

One of the key goals of the one-year project is to recruit and train 20 bilingual North Side residents who will work with the Syracuse Fire Department to make 250 home visits to promote fire safety and install smoke alarms. Community volunteers will receive small stipends for their service. The grant will also allow the Syracuse Fire Department to purchase more than 1,200 long-life dual sensor smoke alarms as well as a quantity of special alarms for use with people who have hearing impairments.

The project will develop and test print and video materials to support the collaborative model. These materials will be available in the future to other communities in Syracuse and across the country.

Linda Church, senior programs manager, will oversee the project for ProLiteracy. She has worked on literacy and safety issues for several years and is currently serving as a consultant to the U.S. Fire Administration on the national Fire is Everyone's Fight campaign, which launched in September.

She says: "This grant will help keep North Side families safe from fire, and it will build bridges that allow the fire department and the local community to explore new ways of working together."

"The Syracuse Fire Department welcomes the opportunity to partner with ProLiteracy," says Deputy Chief Stephen Cavuto. "By combining our resources, we will be able to reach individuals who were previously unreachable. Thanks to this grant, we can help immigrants and refugees begin their journey to citizenship and help ensure their safety in their new homes. We are excited by the potential."

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Amy Schmitz
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