Essex County Fire and Rescue Service

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Father and Child Firebreak

A special, and highly emotional, Firebreak helped fathers and their children with difficult relationships recreate their bond with one another.

The course saw five fathers join their children at Southend Fire Station between February 24 and 28 where they were put through their paces by firefighters and officers.

The course had been specially designed to promote assertiveness for both parents and children, mutual respect, trust and communication.  It included specially designed team building exercises and discussions around resolving conflict and communicating concerns with one another in an effective way.

Firebreak uses the training firefighters undertake to develop participants' skills in working together, building their confidence, teaching 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.

All of the parent and child pairs were put forward for the course by Streets Ahead which is part of the Integrated Youth Support Service in the Southend area. Streets Ahead work with families at risk of poor outcomes to help them improve their lives.

Donna Finch, Children and Young People Manager, said: “This Firebreak was particularly poignant. It was an emotionally charged week but the changes we saw take place in the relationships between the fathers and their children was inspirational.

“We tailored the course to help father and child connect, and we could see exactly that happening right in front of our eyes. At the start of the week, we could see how far apart they were and by the end there was not one pair that hadn’t hugged and told each other how proud they were of each other.

“Part of the course involved all of the participants writing down their personal thoughts on their family member, with the help of the Firebreak team, they shared their wishes and feelings with each other and the feedback we got from that speaks for itself, we saw fractured relationships healing.

“ECFRS has delivered hundreds of Firebreak courses which have helped thousands of people in Essex. All of the instructors that took part did a fantastic job and the participants joined in wholeheartedly.  We are extremely hopeful that the students will reap the benefits in their future relationships with one another and in turn continue to make our communities stronger.”

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