AN EXTRA-special celebration was held at Bognor Regis fire station after students proved they had what it takes to be firefighters.
The 11 students became the latest to successfully graduate from West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service’s FireBreak course.
But this was a passing out parade with a difference as the flagship course was run for a group of young people from the Fordwater School in Chichester, which caters for pupils with a variety of different needs and learning difficulties.
Watch manager Angela Spencer-Smith, who organised and led the week, said: “It’s extremely important we ensure the courses and programmes we run are as inclusive as possible and cater for the diversity and specialist needs of the young people we have in west Sussex.
“We adapted the course content to suit individual student’s needs, ensuring we got the best out of each one of them. It was a hot and demanding week and the determination, effort and good humour they all showed in tackling all the challenges we presented them with is humbling. We’re extremely proud of them all.”
FireBreak’s newest recruits, all aged 18 and 19 and accompanied by teachers and support workers from the school, spent five days at the station, taking part in a specially-adapted version of the course.
Taking on a range of team-building and problem-solving activities, adapted ladder and hose drills and learned vital life-saving skills.
The school’s chair of governors, Beryl Dyton, said: “It was a real pleasure to attend the ceremony and see all our students on parade.
“There is no doubt it was a well thought out week, packed full of activities designed to improve the students team-working, communication and motor skills. We’d like to say a big thank you to all the instructors involved.”
During their graduation ceremony the group demonstrated their new skills in front of an invited audience of very proud family and friends, as well as West Sussex County Council’s cabinet member for resident services, Lionel Barnard.
Cllr Barnard said: “The students can certainly be very proud of their achievements this week. It’s clear they have thoroughly enjoyed their time at the fire station gaining new skills and confidence.
“The fire service instructors have worked extremely hard to ensure it was a valuable and rewarding experience for everyone.”
Certificates were presented by West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service’s assistant chief fire officer, Neil Stocker.