Maldon Fire Station was the scene for a special first of its kind Firebreak course for 11 young adults with Down's Syndrome.

The course, which was held in conjunction with Charity Group Down Syndrome Extra 21, taught the young adults some of the skills and disciplines needed to become a firefighter. The aim was to assist in improving the youngsters' communication skills and to show them how to work in teams and problem solve along the way, giving them new confidence and motivation.

The four-day long course is a modified version of the Firebreak scheme. Donna Finch, Youth Development Manager, said: "The course has been a lot of hard work for all the

instructors but it has been a really worthwhile. The young adults taking part were an inspiration to all of us.

"They gave 100% all week long and I am so proud of all of them. They lacked nothing for bravery and determination and working with them this week has been an amazing experience for all of us."

This is the third Firebreak course which ECFRS have held with Down Syndrome Extra 21. The service has recently received a national award recognising initiatives which have achieved "astounding results" in fire services the length and breadth of the UK, scooping the Fire Safety Education award at the Emergency Service awards, which took place in the Emirates Stadium in Arsenal, London on Thursday April 7.

ADO Vernon Kendall said: "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."

CFO David Johnson said: "We are all proud of the work we have done with Down Syndrome Extra 21 and winning this award is something else we are proud of. For us the real reward is seeing how much the attendees gain from the course, but it is fantastic to

receive national recognition like this."

Deputy Chief Fire Officer Gordon Hunter said: "This is another example of what Essex County Fire and Rescue Service can achieve, it is a constructive course and for those taking part it has been a positive life changing experience. This award recognises the hard work of Donna Finch, her fellow instructors and the entire youth development team."

Gregg Stuttle said: "Little did I know when I got a call about this scheme three years ago that this scheme would grow and take off in the way it has. It is an excellent scheme; the young people taking part get so much out of it. I would like to thank all of the team for all the good work they do."


Photo by Essex County Fire and Rescue Service.


Posted: 15.06pm, 26.04.11,