THIRTEEN young people with Down syndrome took part in a special Firebreak course held between April 4 and 7.

This year’s course, held in conjunction with charity Down Syndrome ‘Extra 21’, is the seventh time the Service has worked with the charity.

The course has been especially designed to develop participant’s skills in working together, build confidence and demonstrate their abilities.

Over the week they undertook a series of challenging tasks including blasting water out of the hose reels, trying on hazard suits and breathing equipment, climbing ladders and staging rescue missions for people trapped in buildings and smoke packed rooms.

The young people were taught about fire safety, emergencies, how to dial 999 and report a fire and first aid to help make them better prepared to function independently in later life.

Throughout the week, the students worked with instructors who taught them essential fire fighter skills, with the aim of assisting in improving communication, teamwork and problem solving, 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 people join in, work so hard and then take so much away from the course.”

Greg Stuttle, of 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.

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