News & Notes 24/01/18

Fire safety

The New Hampshire State Fire Marshal’s Office is commemorating Community Risk Reduction (CRR) Week from Jan. 15 to Jan. 21, aiming to raise awareness about fire safety and prevention in the community, according to a press release. During this period, residents are reminded of critical fire safety practices, especially given that cooking and heating are leading causes of home fires in New Hampshire. The state has experienced more than 100 civilian injuries due to fires between 2020 and 2023, highlighting the importance of preventive measures. Key safety tips include vigilant cooking, maintaining safe zones around heating equipment and ensuring the proper functioning of smoke and carbon monoxide alarms. CRR Week offers resources for both the public and fire service professionals, emphasizing the integrated approach of education, engineering, enforcement, emergency response and economic incentives in fire risk reduction. Visit

Lead testing

The New Hampshire Insurance Department (NHID) has released a bulletin mandating that health insurers cover blood lead testing for 1- and 2-year-old children without cost-sharing, in compliance with the Affordable Care Act. According to a press release, the directive comes after noticing that some insurers were not following ACA guidelines, which prohibit cost-sharing for preventive services, including lead screening. The NHID emphasizes adherence to Health Resources and Services Administration and American Academy of Pediatrics’ recommendations, ensuring New Hampshire’s children can access necessary lead testing without financial barriers. This move aligns with recent Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services guidance, extending no-cost provisions to follow-up testing as well. Insurers are advised to review their practices in light of this bulletin to uphold health care coverage standards and protect the health of young children in the state.

New director

Richard K. Sala has been appointed as the new director of the Bureau of Vocational Rehabilitation (VR New Hampshire), under the New Hampshire Department of Education. According to a press release, Sala’s experience and qualifications include a Master of Business Administration and Master of Environmental Law and Policy, as well as a membership with the New Hampshire Bar Association since 2013. With a background including service in the U.S. Marines and roles in education and law, Sala will manage VR New Hampshire’s operations, focusing on aiding individuals with disabilities and engaging with business partners. His tasks will involve shaping long-term strategies for meaningful career development and meeting workforce objectives. He succeeds Lisa Hinson-Hatz, who served the department for two decades and has moved on to a similar role in a different location.

Mandatory minimums

Gov. Chris Sununu has officially endorsed Senate Bills 414 and 415, which introduce mandatory minimum sentences for drug trafficking and distribution offenses resulting in death, specifically targeting large quantities of controlled substances like fentanyl. According to a press release, these bills represent the state’s intensified efforts to address the drug crisis by imposing stringent penalties on drug dealers whose actions contribute to fatalities. Gov. Sununu’s support is documented in a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee, urging the advancement of these bills to reflect the severity of the drug-related challenges facing New Hampshire.

Athletes on the run

Special Olympics New Hampshire (SONH) has launched a year-long campaign called “Running For Special Olympics,” focused on running. According to a press release, the campaign includes a fitness program to encourage SONH athletes to run independently or participate in organized races across the state, as well as a series of fundraising events related to running. Millennium Running, based in Bedford, has named SONH as its official charity for 2024, allowing Special Olympics athletes to take part in 14 Millennium Running signature events. SONH staff and volunteers will attend these races to provide information about the organization’s programs. Approximately 40,000 runners are expected to participate in the 14 signature events in 2024.

Catholic Medical Center in Manchester has become the first in New England to successfully implement AVEIR™ DR, the world’s first dual chamber leadless pacemaker system. According to a press release, this new technology by Abbott, FDA-approved in June 2023, provides a minimally invasive treatment for patients with abnormal heart rhythms requiring pacing in both the right atrium and ventricle. The system enhances patient care with a smaller device size, leadless placement and synchronized pacing between two pacemakers using i2i™ technology, which facilitates communication through the body’s blood.

Daniel Douidi has been sworn in as the new chief of the Bedford Police Department, succeeding retired Chief John Bryfonski. According to a press release, Chief Douidi, who has served with the Bedford Police for 33 years, began his career as a part-time special police officer in Manchester in 1987 and joined Bedford Police as a full-time officer in 1989. He has steadily risen through the ranks, holding positions including captain and deputy chief. Chief Douidi said he aims to improve department morale and make it an attractive place to work, focusing on hiring, training and retention, and emphasized an open-door policy and prioritizing the needs of Bedford’s citizens.

The United Way of Greater Nashua has launched the Tech Connect United Laptop Donation Program, accepting donations of working laptops, tablets or smartphones. According to a newsletter, these devices will be cleared of data, refurbished and distributed to children, job-seekers, college students and seniors in the community, with the aim of enhancing digital access for telehealth, job searches and educational purposes. Donations can be made at their Nashua office (20 Broad St.) during weekdays or by appointment. This effort is supported by Microsoft’s Tech Spark Fellowship Grant Funding.

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