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Fire safety for all abilities

Schenectady ARC awarded grant to produce training video

The Schenectady ARC is looking to fill a need for a fire safety training course for individuals with various disabilities.

Recently the county ARC was awarded the Mary Frawley Memorial Grant from the New York State Association of Day Service Providers, which totals $1,000. The grant will be used to produce a 10-minute fire safety training video to assist with fire safety training for individuals who attend ARC's four-day habilitation programs.

The video is part of an aid to help with that curriculum, so that they can get different ways to absorb the information, said Marc DeNofio, spokesman for ARC. "When we started to develop these materials there really wasn't a lot of information for us."

Due to the scarcity of fire safety training material adapted for people with developmental disabilities, ARC's day habilitation program staff worked in collaboration with the Rotterdam Pine Grove No. 5 and Carmen fire departments to develop a comprehensive fire safety curriculum. The program has over 25 multi-sensory activities, photographs and exercises, which have been carefully adapted to accommodate the unique learning styles and functioning levels of the individuals served by ARC. The hands-on approach taken in the course also assists in the learning process.

DeNofio said the collaboration was beneficial for the fire departments too.

"They were able to see first hand what we are it actually gives them some extra training on understanding the population," he said.

The video serves as a needed supplement to the curriculum, because it provides a multi-sensory interpretation of key fire safety practices for individuals with varying levels of intellectual functioning, communication skills and learning styles, he said. For instance, there are some individuals at ARC that would panic if they heard fire alarms go off, he said.

"We are looking at the varying disabilities and how each person can interrupt what they are experiencing," he said,

Individuals complete the curriculum at their own pace, with their progress tracked in a "Fire Safety Preparedness Assessment," which rates and documents their skills learned through the program.

"We are hoping a lot of our fellow chapters will look at this as a great resource for them as well," he said. "It is also helping our staff to learn some of the basic fire safety rules."

The video is expected to be done before the annual conference of the New York State Association of Day Service Providers in November, where it is scheduled to be shown.""

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