Essex County Fire and Rescue Service


Down Syndrome Firebreak

A group of 13 young people with Down syndrome have completed a special Firebreak course at Maldon Fire Station between April 7 and 10.

The course, which is held in conjunction with 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 taught participants important fire safety lessons to make them better prepared if any of them live independently in the future.

Throughout the week, the students worked with instructors who taught them some of the skills and disciplines needed to be a firefighter. Like traditional Firebreak courses, the aim was to assist in improving communication skills and to show those taking part how to work in teams and problem solve along the way, giving them new confidence and motivation.

Former Down Syndrome Extra 21 Firebreak participant Harriet Smith returned as a volunteer instructor in the latest course.

Donna Finch, ECFRS Children and Young People Manager, said: “The course was fantastic, it is the sixth course we have held with Down Syndrome Extra 21. 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.”

Essex County Fire and Rescue Service has recently won a World Down Syndrome Day Award from Down Syndrome International for the work it does on courses like this. The award recognises the scheme’s outstanding achievements which have strengthened and enriched the lives of people with Down syndrome.

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