The Boston Society of Vulcan’s and other similar organizations were founded to meet the recruitment needs of candidates of color into the fire service.
Once the organizations had grown in size, it would further exist to promote charitable activities, and assist in meeting the public safety needs of growing and diverse inner city populations. As a result, many of the Black Firefighter Organizations today provide training and education on Fire Safety, CPR, First Aide, Bike Safety, Car Seat Safety, Injury Prevention, Disaster Preparedness, Violence Prevention, Mentor Programs, and Employment Training to high risk / disadvantaged communities.
Cultural customs, language barriers, and lack of prevention skills, compounded with the impact of poverty, and unemployment, all play a role in contributing to a “lack of urgency” attitude. The immediate seriousness of preparedness and injury prevention preparation is a priority. The risk is especially prevalent among families with children under 14, bilingual populations and the elderly (2005 National Safe Kids Report & 2005 MFIRS data). Three of the most troubling problems are:
The lack of motivation among residents in reaching out and accessing resources for preparedness preparation.
The lack of understanding in the role of responsibility residents must take in addressing their need for pre-emergency planning and care.
The number of families without a basic home evacuation and preparedness plan to survive should a disaster occur in their home, or neighborhood.
Fires continue to plague Boston on a daily basis. The 2004 Massachusetts Fire Incident Reporting System (MFIRS) documents that in 2003, Boston had a total of 3,669 fires, in 2004 the number increased to 3,833, in 2005 to 3,874, along with an increase in fatalities. Boston is listed as having one of the highest rates of fire in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, with a total dollar loss of $26,637,139.
The two high risk groups for Boston continue to be the elderly and children, although there has been a slight increase for college students. Older adults continue to be at greater risk for fire, with critical injuries and deaths resulting from smoking while using home oxygen systems. Cooking continues to be a major cause of fire injury to the elderly, and over 1/4 of the seniors that died in 2004 – 2005 fires, no detectors were present or detectors were present but did not operate. The data for children shows that, each year, many fires are started by children ages 3-8 that are merely curious about fire. From 1993 through 2002, there were 8,500 juvenile set fires reported in Massachusetts, with 30% of them occurring in Boston. Twenty-three (23) children, all ten years old or younger, died in fires caused by children playing with matches and lighters. These fires caused 425 civilian and 454 firefighter injuries. The estimated dollar loss for all of these fires was over $33 million.
The aforementioned risk assessment information makes it clear that too many people continue to be affected by public safety hazards and that there are steps that can be taken to reduce the impact of these problems. The residents of Boston neighborhoods continue to be affected by these problems as well as the obstacles to solving them based on a number of factors, such as lack of access to resources, income, language and cultural barriers.