Essex County Fire and Rescue Service

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Down Syndrome Firebreak shortlisted for national award

The Service’s hugely successful Firebreak scheme has been shortlisted for a coveted Guardian Public Service’s award.

Essex County Fire and Rescue Service is one of three organisations in the running in the Partnership Excellence category in recognition of the work they have done with Down Syndrome Extra 21.

Over the last four years, the Service has held four special Firebreaks for young people, and one for adults, living with Down Syndrome.

Firebreak 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.

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.

Since the last course, which was held last November, all 11 participants have used the skills they learned as a springboard to success going on to get jobs, take up volunteering roles and complete employability courses.

Donna Finch, Children and Young People’s Manager, said: “The entire team are extremely proud of the work we have done with Down Syndrome Extra 21 and delighted to have been shortlisted for this prestigious award.

“All of the team enjoy holding the Down’s 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 team will find out if they have won at the Guardian Public Services Award Ceremony which takes place on Tuesday November 12.

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