Senior citizens in neighborhoods most vulnerable to fire will be safer thanks to more than half a million dollars in funding from a grant awarded to the FDNY Foundation.
The Foundation joined the FDNY on Friday, Oct. 31 at Engine 95 and Ladder 36 in Manhattan, to announce the fire safety inspection and alarm installation program for senior citizens living in neighborhoods most vulnerable to fire. The program is made possible thanks to $685,000 from the FEMA Assistance to Firefighters Fire Prevention and Safety Grant.
“Seniors are especially vulnerable to fire, and that’s something the Department takes very seriously,” said Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro. “We know the more people we can reach with the message of fire safety, the more fires we can prevent, and the more lives we can save.”
As a part of the program, the FDNY identified two Community Boards in Manhattan, Bronx, Brooklyn and Queens, as well as one on Staten Island, for senior outreach and alarm installation efforts.
The grant was secured by U.S. Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, who, in July, urged the FEMA Administrator to approve the funding.
“This much-needed federal funding will provide the FDNY with the resources needed to expand their successful ‘senior citizens alarm installation campaign’,” said Senator Schumer. “This investment will help keep New York City’s most vulnerable population safe in the event of a fire or carbon monoxide leak.”
“Our city firefighters are on the front lines, keeping New Yorkers out of harm’s way and risking their own lives to save others,” said Senator Gillibrand. “This important federal investment will help our first responders continue to aid the most vulnerable in our communities through the ‘senior citizens alarm installation campaign,’ helping to reduce injuries and save lives.”
The program announcement coincides with the Department’s semiannual message “Change Your Clock, Change Your Batteries,” which urges every New Yorker to change their smoke alarm batteries or to make sure their home is equipped with working smoke alarms as they change their clocks for Daylight Saving.
25 New Yorkers have died already this year in fires where there was no working smoke alarm; in three quarters of all fatal fires, there is no working smoke alarm present.
“We know that through Fire Safety Education and programs like these, the FDNY can bring their message to thousands of New Yorkers,” said FDNY Foundation Chairman Stephen Ruzow. “The FDNY is bringing a life-saving message to the people who need it most. We are so proud to help them do that.”
“We are grateful for the work of Senators Schumer and Gillibrand in securing this funding,” said FDNY Foundation Executive Director Jean O’Shea. “This type of funding allows us to support the FDNY as they work to spread this important message: a smoke alarm can save your life, and this Senior Fire Safe Program will allow them to bring that message directly into people’s homes.”
Members of the FDNY Foundation-funded Fire Safety Education Unit will install smoke alarms in the homes of seniors, as well as in the homes of members of the deaf and hard of hearing community and people with disabilities who are homebound.
“It’s very important because it saves lives,” said Francia Taveras, a senior at the Rain Inwood Senior Center. “It’s great to know the Fire Department is here to assist elderly people like me. It gives us security. It touches my heart.”
“We are so glad to be here. We have to be alert and they’re teaching us how to be safe,” said senior Aurea Texidy. “It’s so nice to know they’re here for us.”
“It’s heartwarming to know there is this relationship with the Department. Our seniors are so excited about today because they can feel like forgotten population sometimes,” said Center Director Alison Ortiz. “This is amazing for programs like ours. We have limited funding but these programs keep our seniors safe and secure.”
The Fire Safety Education Unit will install new combination smoke and carbon monoxide alarms with 10-year batteries, as well as conduct home safety reviews for residents. In addition, the FDNY offer group presentations on fire safety education in an effort to reach thousands more New Yorkers.
The initiative is a continuation of a similar pilot program put into place immediately following Hurricane Sandy, in which FDNY members worked with residents in the hurricane-affected areas of Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island.
For more on the Fire Safety Education Unit, click here.
To schedule a free, in-home fire safety review that includes smoke and carbon monoxide alarm installations for senior citizens, email us or call (718) 281-3872.
"It's very important because it saves lives. It's great to know the Fire Department is here to assist elderly people like me. It gives us security. It touches my heart."