< Back to News & Events




 The Utica Municipal Housing Authority, the Utica Fire Department, and the Mohawk Valley Resource Center for Refugees announced today that they will be launching a media and community outreach campaign in various languages to educate local residents about fire prevention.  Targeted to multi-lingual immigrant and refugee populations the campaign includes videos, print materials, and social media.

The agencies will post on their websites fire prevention educational materials and videos developed through the program.  Media and community outreach will also be conducted to reach new audiences through social media, radio and TV talk shows, and language broadcasts.  Materials will also be posted at community locations such as stores, houses of workshop, and agencies regarding fire safety education.  The program will disseminate educational materials developed through the program on a national basis to fire departments and community agencies.

The campaign is one component of the Community Fire Safety Education Project (CFSEP), a collaboration among the Utica Municipal Housing Authority (MHA), Utica Fire Department (UFD), and the Mohawk Valley Resource Center for Refugees (MVRCR).  The Project aims to reduce injury and deaths caused by fire among fire fighters, low-income public housing residents, multi- lingual refugee and immigrant populations, and persons with physical disabilities.

Please check the link below to view the videos produced by the Community Fire Safety Education Project:


Here is the link for the flyers produced by the project:


In 2014, the Utica Municipal Housing Authority received funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency in the amount of $363,672 to prevent fires through language specific and culturally appropriate fire education programming, installation of smart burner cooking systems within MHA units, and home education visits and smoke alarm inspections/installations throughout MHA developments.  The SmartBurner cooking system is a new product engineered to help prevent stovetop cooking fires before they can start. Unlike other products that alert occupants after a fire has started or try to suppress an existing fire, the SmartBurner helps prevent the fire from occurring in the first place through a special temperature controlled cooking system.

The American Red Cross Mohawk Valley Chapter will be joining with the MHA, UFD, and MVRCR to implement the outreach campaign.   The Red Cross will be installing free smoke alarms and providing disaster preparedness education through their Home Fire Prevention Campaign, Pillowcase Project for Children, and Citizen’s Preparedness Corps trainings.

To date, the program has installed SmartBurners in 471 public housing units.   Multiple language fire safety materials developed include:  30 fire safety videos including a puppet video for children, 92 flyers including print and audio versions, and 7 PowerPoint presentations.  The program recruited and trained eight refugee fire prevention peer educators from various language groups.  Cultural competency trainings have been held for 133 housing authority and Utica Fire Department staff.   The program held 11 multi- lingual community outreach education sessions on fire prevention as well as resident meetings   which reached over 300 public housing residents.  An additional 13 multi-lingual community based educational sessions targeted toward immigrants and refugees reached 261 people.  The World Refugee Day event was attended by several hundred people, multi-lingual fire safety materials were distributed, and families actively participated in Oneida County’s Smoke House experience.   Fire Department and MHA staff, accompanied by interpreters from the Refugee Center, are currently making home visits to public housing units to educate residents about fire prevention, identify any potential safety issues, and teach residents in the use of the smart burners.    MHA AmeriCorps members have assisted with community education activities and fire prevention inspections.

Mayor Robert M. Palmieri stated:   “The Fire Prevention Campaign is another example of how we are striving to make our community more inclusive and welcoming to all our newest residents.  I commend the Utica Municipal Housing Authority, the Utica Fire Department and the Mohawk Valley Resource Center for Refugees for their continued partnership.  With the goal to reduce the number of fire related injury and death, this campaign will certainly enhance safety and quality of life for our refugee and immigrant population.”

“The Mohawk Valley Resource Center for Refugees is happy to be doing this important work on fire safety with the Utica Municipal Housing Authority and Utica Fire Department.  Partnerships like these make Utica the welcoming destination that it is and this Community Fire Safety Education Project (CFSEP) illustrates how together we build community with many cultures,” said Shelly Callahan, Executive Director of the Mohawk Valley Resource Center for Refugees.

The program was developed in response to the greater risk of fire in low-income neighborhoods which have a high concentration of refugees and Limited English Proficient individuals.  Since 1981, the Mohawk Valley Resource Center for Refugees has resettled nearly 15,000 immigrants to Utica.  Foreign born residents constitute 14.78% of the city’s total population. Oneida County is one of the highest per capita concentration of refugees in the United States, resulting in Utica having a refugee population of nearly 15%.  A language other than English is spoken in 23.4% of households in Utica. The Utica City School District educates students speaking more than 40 languages.

For further information, please contact John Furman at (315) 735-3362, ext. 34 or jfurman@uticamha.org.  Information on the program can be found at www.uticamha.org, https://www.mvrcr.org, and http://www.cityofutica.com.