Minneapolis Star TribuneOn a routine home inspection, Rebecca Booker of the Spring Lake
Park-Blaine-Mounds View Fire Department stopped to investigate a
Wednesday, February 27, 2013
It was the smoke detector. “How is it working?” she asked
the homeowner, an immigrant from Somalia. “Great,” the woman replied,
adding that the device had been beeping all year.
She had never had a smoke detector in Somalia so she
didn’t know the sound meant the batteries were dying, said Booker, a
fire and safety educator.
As more immigrants and refugees settle in the Twin Cities, the need for fire and safety education has increased, Booker said.
“Every single home I go into, there are gaps in
information and those gaps put you at risk,” she said. “Now I’m going
into a lot of homes of people who are immigrants and refugees, and the
gaps are much wider.”
To help educate them, the fire department is holding its
first Multicultural Safety Fair from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. March 9 at Fire
Station 3, 11920 Ulysses St., Blaine.
The free event will feature hands-on information on an
array of topics, from alarms to bike helmets to weather emergencies to
child car seats to water safety. Interpreters for several languages,
including Russian, Arabic and Spanish, will be there.
It’s the third event organized by the Spring Lake
Park-Blaine-Mounds View Fire Department to help new Americans. Last
year, safety professionals from across Minnesota came to a multicultural
summit and brainstormed ways to bridge the knowledge gap. At a second
summit last fall, a panel of nine immigrants from different countries
shared their insights.
“They told us, ‘We don’t learn from brochures, from
articles or pamphlets. We learn from talking to one another,’ ” Booker
recalled. “That was the one resounding thing that came out of that
Another sign of the times: The National Fire Academy
recently began offering a course on reaching other cultures about fire
safety. Said Booker: “America is just beginning to broach this issue,
just as we are.”