Around the Hamptons: Fire safety programs get a boost

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Staff Writer
Published: 3/14/2022 8:37:46 PM
Modified: 3/14/2022 8:37:04 PM

EASTHAMPTON — Fire departments in Easthampton, Southampton and Northampton have all secured grants of about $8,000 each to help pay for fire safety education programs for children and older adults.

The Easthampton Fire Department received $5,175 for its Student Awareness of Fire Education (S.A.F.E.) program and $3,055 for its Senior SAFE program. Both programs support the department’s ongoing efforts for community outreach, preventive initiatives and education to reduce potential injury from fire.

Southampton Fire received $4,575 for its S.A.F.E. program and $2,855 for its Senior SAFE program, while Northampton Fire Rescue received $5,175 for its S.A.F.E. program and $3,055 for its Senior SAFE program.

The S.A.F.E. and Senior SAFE programs are funded through legislative earmarks to the Executive Office of the Public Safety & Security, and they are administered by the Department of Fire Services.

According to the Department of Fire Services, the average number of children dying in fires annually has dropped by 78% since the S.A.F.E. Program began — a decline almost 30% greater than the decline in fire deaths overall.

In light of that success, the Department of Fire Services launched the Senior SAFE Program to provide firefighters with funding to deliver fire safety education to older adults, who face a disproportionate risk of dying in a fire.

Three teachers recipients of teaching awards

Three teachers — Easthampton’s Kelly Melanson and Sean Uliasz, and Hampshire Regional School District’s Shelley Seymour — have been named as recipients of the 2022 Pioneer Valley Excellence in Teaching Award.

Melanson has been a special education teacher with the Easthampton Public Schools for five years. According to an announcement posted on the district’s Facebook page, Melanson “has creative and innovative teaching practices, is committed to professional learning and growth, and is dedicated to the school and community.”

Uliasz has been a music teacher at the Easthampton High School for nine years. Uliasz is a “dedicated professional who has been an inspirational leader for students who have gone on to win state competitions over the years,” according to the announcement.

Seymour has taught biology and life sciences at Hampshire Regional High School since 2005. According to her bio at the Massachusetts Biotechnology Education Foundation, where she serves on the board of directors, Seymour aims to make biology accessible and significant to all students. One of her key core values as an educator is to put teaching people above teaching material.

The Pioneer Valley Excellence in Teaching Awards was launched by the Harold Grinspoon Foundation in 2003 as the foundation’s namesake felt the need to acknowledge unseen heroes that make a difference in the region.

Each year, the program honors more than 100 educators in Franklin, Hampshire and Hampden counties. Since 2003, more than 2,000 educators have been recognized.

Winners will be honored with an in-person banquet at the Log Cabin in Holyoke on May 4.

Municipal cybersecurity awareness grant program

Easthampton, Southampton and Westhampton have landed Municipal Cybersecurity Awareness grants to train municipal and school employees how to better detect and avoid cyber threats.

Easthampton Mayor Nicole LaChappelle said the grant, which the city is receiving for the second straight year, will provide training for 250 city employees, while Southampton will train 76 municipal employees and Westhampton will train 48 town and school employees.

Northampton and Forbes Public Library in Northampton were also named as award recipients.

The program is funded by $250,000 in capital IT authorizations from the 2020 General Governmental Bond Bill and is designed to support local government efforts to improve overall cybersecurity through comprehensive online training, evaluation and threat simulation.


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