By Estelle Sanchez
Queensland Fire and Emergency Services (QFES) has adapted the long-standing Fire Ed program to make it accessible to children with autism.
The program consists of firefighters visiting schools and talking to the students to raise awareness about the dangers of fire.
AEIOU, a foundation for children with autism, raised QFES’s awareness of the need to adapt the program for this specific public when firefighters delivered sessions within AEIOU centres.
The program has been updated with expert advice from senior therapists from the Foundation, which includes modified language, adjustments to fire drill activities and a focus on physical props to ensure children with autism would be prepared in case of a fire.
AEIOU Foundation General Manager Shane Klintworth said the partnership was critical to making children with autism safer.
“We are grateful for the opportunity to work together to modify the program, helping fire crews across the State to successfully engage and educate children with autism on fire safety,” Mr Klintworth said.
QFES Commissioner Greg Leach said the new program was beneficial not only for the children concerned but also for the firefighters who teach them.
“This is a great program that promotes inclusivity, and I am proud of the firefighters who have worked to make this a reality,” he said.
Minister for Fire and Emergency Services Mark Ryan said this new addition would not replace the traditional Fire Ed program that will only be adapted for children with autism when they go to AEIOU centres.
“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,” Mr Ryan said.
The program will be launched in the coming months.