Worcester Housing Success StorySeptember 30, 2020
Partners: Worcester Fire Department and Worcester Housing Authority (WHA)
Campaign: “A Recipe for Fire Safe Cooking” program – implemented with FY 2015 and 2016 Federal Emergency Management Agency Fire Prevention & Safety Grant funding
The Worcester Fire Department’s CRR fire analysis identified four WHA high-rise buildings that were responsible for nearly 25 percent of all of Worcester’s reported cooking fires in 2015. These buildings accounted for an average of nearly 12 fires per month, causing more than $500,000 in property damage. The apartments housed low- to no-income older adults, most of whom had physical or mental disabilities that increased their fire risk.
The program combined education and training of property managers and residents with the installation of SmartBurners™ in the WHA apartments. There have been zero fires where SmartBurner was in place. Remarkably, there were two fires in units where the SmartBurner was removed by the tenant. That, in turn, has promted the WHA to implement Standard Operating Guidelines to help ensure that the SmartBurner is never again removed by tenants.
After the first phase of installations, there was a documented 96% reduction in cooking-related fire department calls. As well, following a stovetop fire in a different WHA complex that destroyed two WHA apartments and displaced four residents, a grant amendment allowed the fire department to retrofit an additional 60 units.
The Worcester Fire Department was recently awarded a fourth FEMA grant that will complete the installation of SmartBurner in additional WHA properties equipped with electric coil stove tops.
You can incorporate this life-saving technology into your CRR program too. SmartBurner easily replaces electric coil burners and helps prevent cooking fires. The prevention solution provides a return on investment through insurance savings, energy savings, and maintenance savings as well as preventing the high costs of restoration and lost-rent when fire occurs