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Firebreak programme makes Cambridgeshire debut

An award-winning programme designed and created by Essex County Fire and Rescue Service to help make communities safer has been launched across our county borders.

The specialist Essex team has supported Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service in the delivery of Firebreak within their County.

For the past year, work has been taking place for the two services to collaborate and for ECFRS to share best practice within Community Development initiatives.

This training was put into practice last week after 12 students completed Cambridgeshire’s first-ever Firebreak course on September 30.

ECFRS Firebreak has achieved outstanding results across the County and this has resulted in other UK fire services approaching our Community Safety Development team about launching their own.

Our courses have been designed to work with the long term-unemployed, victims, perpetrators and mentors of domestic abuse, to reduce re-offending rates and anti-social behaviour incidents in Essex.

In addition the course has been used for critical thinking skills for gifted and talented students, meaning the course reflects the diverse communities we serve.

Cambridgeshire's Firebreak pilot programme worked with 12 students from a local academy and focused on enabling them to develop their self-esteem, teamwork abilities, confidence and vital life skills as well as the opportunity to achieve an AQA qualification.

Participants taking part in Firebreak learn the importance of teamwork, responsibility and self-dependence while improving their confidence through a series of challenging tasks including using fire service equipment and learning first aid.

Donna Finch, Community Development and Safeguarding Manager, said: “We have specifically designed our Firebreak programme to help make our communities safer places and we have achieved fantastic and life-changing outcomes.

“As our programme goes from strength to strength, we have received interest from other fire services, which are keen to launch their own within their communities.

“I’m delighted and extremely proud that our Firebreak programme has been launched for the first time at another fire service and I look forward to hearing of direct results in Cambridgeshire because of this.

“I also look forward to working with other fire services in the future to help create safer communities through our Firebreak programme.”

Station Commander Dave Lynch, Firebreak coordinator for Cambridgeshire, said: “We are very grateful to our colleagues at Essex County Fire and Rescue Service who have been fantastic in getting us set up to deliver the initiative here.

“We are really excited about offering the diversionary programme to other agencies across Cambridgeshire to help them achieve their aims.”

Last month, the programme was named winner of the Community Award at the Essex Business Excellence Awards in Chelmsford.

In 2015, Firebreak won a world award from Down Syndrome International for its innovative and diverse work with its members.

Partners supporting the Firebreak programme include the Police and Crime Commissioner, the Department of Work and Pensions, the Worshipful Company of Firefighters, Anglian Community Trust and many more.

PHOTO: Station Officer Karl Amoss, Essex County Fire and Rescue Service's Lead Instructor, passes on his knowledge to Cambridgeshire instructors and students pass out in front of friends and family.

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