Essex County Fire and Rescue Service


Burnham-on-Crouch firefighters recognised for using dementia awareness training

Watch Manager Steve Faircloth and Crew Manager Jonathon Vincent, both on-call firefighters at Burnham-on-Crouch Fire Station won a Special Performance Recognition Award from Essex County Fire and Rescue Service for helping to bring a man living with dementia to safety.

Steve and Jon, both based at Burnham-on-Crouch Fire Station were travelling into Chelmsford to take part in a Breathing Apparatus training exercise and on the way, they noticed an elderly man walking along a busy road on the outskirts of city.

After stopping to check on the man’s welfare they both felt there were possibly some issues, so they gently tried to seek a little more information. Using their training as Dementia Friends - an Alzheimer’s Society initiative that gives people an insight into living with dementia and learning how to engage with people - a call was made to Service’s Control Room with details and a description of the man.

Steve and Jon gained the trust of the man, allowing them to activate the Herbert Protocol that was in place – an early intervention and risk reduction scheme used by partners in Essex to help find vulnerable people who are at risk of going missing – the man was then escorted to a place of safety and they stayed with him until the police arrived.  

The Herbert Protocol is a form that carers, family or friends of a vulnerable person, or the person themselves can fill in.

It contains a list of information to help the police if the person goes missing. You can find out more about the Herbert Protocol at

Station Manager Karen Nicoll at Burnham-on-Crouch Fire Station said: 

“The actions of Steve and Jon demonstrated how they both put their training as Dementia Friends into action, with the best possible outcome.

“The man living with dementia, was confused and unsafe wandering out on his own, with cars passing at high speed and the actions of Steve and Jon in a Covid safe manner prevented a possible accident and led to a safe outcome.

“It’s a great achievement to gain the award and be recognised by our Service, well done to them both.”

Could you be an on-call firefighter?

Burnham-on-Crouch Fire Station is recruiting on-call firefighters. If you live or work within 5 minutes of Burnham-on-Crouch Fire Station, like Steve and Jon you could be paid to protect your community as on-call firefighters. Find out more at 

Paul Pemberton BEM Impairment & Disability Officer at Essex County Fire and Rescue said: 

“Congratulations to Steve and Jon for a well-deserved award. The incident absolutely highlights the importance and the benefits of being a Dementia Friend, and the positive outcome of the Herbert protocol supporting those it is designed for.

Essex has a higher-than-average older population, and it is growing year on year. Although not exclusive to a particular age group, dementia has a higher prevalence for those in the older population. Therefore, the number of people living with dementia, now and predicted in the future, are growing daily in Essex.

People with dementia are one of the most marginalised, socially excluded and highly stigmatised groups in society. Exclusion from communities is all too frequently a consequence of dementia, where the person often experiences reduced ability and opportunity, to be part of social engagement. Having a lack of social engagement can often increase vulnerability and also invite risk into a person’s environment.

Essex County Fire and Rescue Service works daily in many ways to reduce risk and prevent avoidable and unnecessary incidents occurring in Essex. Part of that prevention involves working with partners in the Dementia environment, providing support with Safe & Well and Community Builder visits and also in the creation and maintenance of Dementia Friendly Communities.

The Service is a member of the Dementia Action Alliance which allows it o be informed, inform others and be part of inspiring communities to become dementia friendly. 

The benefit of this Dementia Friendly Communities action provides the opportunity for people with dementia and their carers to remain engaged in their chosen activities of life, where they are recognised, considered and where they feel connected, for as long as they wish to. This also helps make communities a dynamic and inclusive place to live and work in, where all feel connected.

The Service is also involved in the Essex Faith Covenants dementia group, bringing together different faiths and cultures across Essex to focus on what can be done together in support of those with dementia and those who care for them.

Support in Essex 

If you need dementia support, Dementia Connect, from the Alzheimer’s Society, is a new personalised dementia support service for anyone affected by dementia.  It connects you with a whole range of dementia support, by phone, online and face to face. You can access more information on their website here or call: 0333 150 34561 or

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