SBM Fire Department hosting first community multicultural safety fair

For the first time, the Spring Lake Park-Blaine-Mounds View (SBM) Fire Department will host a multicultural safety fair.

The event takes place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, March 9 at SBM Fire Station No. 3, 11920 Ulysses St., in Blaine.

The safety fair will cover a wide range of topics, including water safety, fire safety, smoke and carbon monoxide alarms, injury prevention, crime issues and human trafficking, weather and emergency preparedness, 911, gas and electric, child safety seats and bike safety.

This is a free event to attend and names of attendees will be drawn for prizes.

The huge difference is that the SBM Fire Department is personally inviting immigrants and refugees from other countries and will have four interpreters who can speak six different Arabic languages, Hmong, Russian and Spanish.

Becky Booker, a life and safety educator for the fire department, got the idea after hosting a multicultural safety summit at Fire Station No. 3 last September. Panelists from Cameroon, Vietnam, the Czech Republic, Mexico, Somalia, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Egypt and Congo spoke with fire and police department leaders about the houses some people from their home country lived in and the cultural differences.

For example, building materials used in the United States are more flammable than some of the panelists saw growing up.

Fathia Absia said during the summit that most homes in Somalia are made out of bricks and cement and people are always outside, so there’s less of a chance that a home will burn down.

Marina Lopez from Mexico said most people in her country cooked outside and could not afford cigarettes or candles, so fire safety was not on people’s minds.

One point brought up during this multicultural summit was face-to-face communication was the best way to reach people to teach safety, so Booker hopes this multicultural safety fair will draw in many more people she has not met who are recent immigrants or refugees or have lived in this country for many years.

Besides getting the word out through the press, Booker will ask those she has already met to spread the word.

If you have additional questions, call Booker at 763-767-4003 or email her at [email protected].

Eric Hagen is at [email protected]