By Bonnie Adams,
Southborough – According to the National Fire Protection Association, people age 65 and over are twice as likely to be killed or injured by fires compared to the population at large.
But thanks to a grant from the state’s Senior SAFE program, residents at the Colonial Gardens complex in Southborough now have a stovetop device installed in their kitchens that will help in case a fire breaks out on their stoves.
On Oct. 5, a team of Southborough firefighters, led by Lt. Chris Dano, installed the devices, called Stovetop Firestops, in each apartment at the complex. The devices, small cans that are filled with dry non-toxic chemicals, are easily installed on a vent hood with the accompanying magnets. If a fire breaks out, the dry chemicals are released onto the fire once the flames reach a wick on the bottom of the can, which then extinguishes the flames.
Colonial Gardens is a state low-income housing project that has 56 units, many of them occupied by seniors, according to Lynne Moreno, the director of the Southborough Housing Authority. In the last six months there have been three fires there, she said.
“This is a wonderful thing,” she said of the firestop installations. “We are very grateful to have these for our residents.”
Dano said he first learned of the devices when he read how they had been installed in the homes of seniors in his parents’ hometown of Webster.
“I thought it was a great idea, so I wanted to see if we could get them for [Southborough] as well,” he said.
“This will definitely help keep these residents safe,” he added. “Hopefully, some day we can offer these to other high risk residents in the town as well.”
According to mass.gov, the Senior SAFE program was created by the Legislature in 2014 as a way to help local fire departments support fire and safety education for older adults. Senior SAFE was modeled after the school-based Student Awareness of Fire Education (S.A.F.E.) Program that has reduced the average annual child fire deaths by 72 percent. The same kind of impact is expected for the senior program as well.