Essex County Fire and Rescue Service

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Down Syndrome Extra 21 Firebreak

A group of nine young people with Down syndrome took part in a special Firebreak course at Great Baddow Fire Station between March 30 and April 2.

The course, which is held in conjunction with the charity Down Syndrome Extra 21, develops participant’s skills in working together, builds their confidence, teaches them the value of team work and accepting responsibility as they undertake a series of challenging tasks including using the Service’s powerful hose reels, wearing specialist breathing apparatus, climbing ladders and rescuing people trapped in buildings and smoke logged rooms.

The course also teaches participants important fire safety lessons to make them better prepared if any of them live independently in the future.

Former Down Syndrome Extra 21 Firebreak participant Harriet Smith returned as a volunteer instructor for the second time, passing on the skills she has learned through her work with Essex County Fire and Rescue Service .

Donna Finch, Children, Young People and Safeguarding Manager, said: “We all enjoy the courses we hold with Down Syndrome Extra 21 and we have had a great time this week. All of the team enjoy holding the Down Syndrome Firebreaks, we get a lot from the course and we can see that the young people taking part also take a great deal away from the course.”

The Service has been working with Down Syndrome Extra for seven years helping the young people they work with build their confidence through Firebreak courses. Last year the Service won a World Down Syndrome Day Award from Down Syndrome International for the work it does on courses like this.

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