Essex County Fire and Rescue Service


Down Syndrome Firebreak in Maldon

A group of 13 young people with Down Syndrome have taken part in a special Firebreak course held between April 4 and 7.

The course is held in conjunction with charity Down Syndrome Extra 21. It is the seventh time the Service has worked with the charity on the course which has been especially designed to develop participant’s skills in working together, build their confidence and demonstrate their abilities.

Over the course of the week 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 about fire safety, what to do in an emergency, how to dial 999 and report a fire and first aid to help make them better prepared them for a future life of independent living.

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 once again returned as a volunteer instructor on the latest course.

Donna Finch, Community Development and Safeguarding Manager, said: “The course was fantastic. The team and instructors always enjoy holding this course and are glad to continue developing our relationship with Down Syndrome Extra 21. It’s great to see everyone join in, work so hard and then take so much away from the course.”

Greg Stuttle, Down Syndrome Extra 21, said: “It has been great to be part of another Down Syndrome Extra 21 Firebreak course . It benefits everyone involved, the participants get a huge amount out of it, their parents get to see just how much they are capable of and the instructors all enjoy the course and working with the young people involved.

“Over the years we have had a great relationship with Essex County Fire and Rescue Service and we hope to be able to be part of more Firebreak courses in the future.”

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