Inclusivity is key for QFES’ Fire Ed program

Published Tuesday, 27 April, 2021 at 09:47 AM

Minister for Police and Corrective Services and Minister for Fire and Emergency Services
The Honourable Mark Ryan

Queensland Fire and Emergency Services (QFES) and AEIOU Foundation for Children with Autism have teamed up to adapt the long-standing Fire Ed program to ensure an inclusive learning environment for children with autism.

The program has been updated to include modified language, adjustments to fire drill activities and a focus on physical props to ensure children with autism are prepared should a fire start in their home.

Minister for Fire and Emergency Services Mark Ryan said the Fire Ed program helped children understand the dangers of fire and the adapted training would be rolled out across the state once the initial pilot was completed.

“QFES is reimagining the program to ensure it is inclusive for children with autism – an extremely important initiative,” Mr Ryan said.

“This won’t replace the traditional Fire Ed program, but it will allow children with autism to be able to engage with firefighters and provide vital educational information should a fire occur in their home.

“Firefighters realised the Fire Ed program was not meeting the learning needs of children with autism when delivering it within AEIOU centres, so they began to modify it with expert advice from senior therapists from the Foundation.

“It’s terrific to see how positively the kids have reacted to the changes.

“Once the initial trial has been completed, the training will be rolled out to AEIOU centres across the state and ensure all children who will benefit from the specialised training will have access to the program.”

QFES Commissioner Greg Leach said the program would launch in the coming months and was excited by the opportunities for both the children and the firefighters who teach them.

“Fires can affect anyone at any time, so it is vital all children are equipped with the knowledge they need to stay safe,” Mr Leach said.

“The training will help our Fire and Rescue Service (FRS) firefighters engage with children with autism, not only in training environments, but at house fires and other incidents as well.

“This is a great program that promotes inclusivity and I am proud of the firefighters who have worked to make this a reality.”

AEIOU Foundation General Manager Shane Klintworth said the Foundation was delighted to partner with QFES to ensure children with autism have equal access to the Fire Ed program.

“Accessible fire safety education is critical for every child, particularly children with autism who until now have not had access to a program which caters to their specific needs,” he said.

“We commend QFES for their proactive work in this space, and we are grateful for the opportunity to work together modify the program, helping fire crews across the State to successfully engage and educate children with autism on fire safety.

“These practical, expert driven changes are a positive step forward for accessibility and inclusiveness, and will lead to a more effective fire safety education for young children with autism.”

Media contacts

Minister Ryan’s Office: Ph: (07) 3035 8300

QFES Media: (07) 3635 3310