Worcester, Mass. officials remember fire victims

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March 7, 2013, 6:41 pm
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(NECN: Katelyn Tivnan) - There was a somber celebration in Worcester, Mass. Thursday at the Main Street Memorial to commemorate those in the city who've lost their lives in fires.

But the crowd was thankful no new names are being added.

"I'd like to attribute that to fire prevention and education in that division," Worcester Deputy Fire Chief Geoffrey Gardell said.

Fifty names are inscribed on the memorial. There were no fatal fires in Worcester in 2012.

City leaders say one reason is an increase in public awareness.

"We do neighborhood sweeps, get out there and get the word out and think the vigilance is paying off," Gardell said.

"How important it is for people to know and understand the best way to fight fire is for people to be smart and vigilant," Worcester City Manager Mike O'Brien said.

In 2012, the city did see a spike in arson cases in the Pleasant Street neighborhood. It prompted reaction from community organizers and the city.

"As a result of working together, we were able to recognize we had an issue, had a problem and could be very dangerous," state Rep. Mary Keefe said.

Lt Anne Marie Pickett leads the Worcester Fire Department's Public Education Division. In 2012, the Worcester Fire Department's Education Division reached out to close to 50,000 people in the city. They also participated in 500 fire safety events.

"I take the lessons learned and the stories and I bring them to the educational workshops with passion, that's how I try to get people the message and the info they need," Lt. Pickett said.

Meanwhile, the city's Department of Inflectional Services has focused on stricter code enforcement.

"Better enforcement, stricter local ordinances to make sure properties are safe and the efforts our firefighters do everyday to save lives and property," O'Brien said.

Tags: massachusetts, Worcester, Katelyn Tivnan, Main Street Memorial, fire victims
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