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Fire Life Training Associates’ disabilities program, Breaking Barriers, is a two-course portfolio that offers the following;


  • An interactive Disabilities Awareness course for first responders


  • A first responder driven course for individuals with intellectual disabilities, and their families

Disabilities awareness for first responders is essential.  As emergency personnel work within their communities, it is crucial that they know how to serve all individuals and their families.  Unfortunately, in even the most up-to-date departments, instruction on how to understand the needs, actions and reactions of a person with an intellectual disability is rarely discussed or taught.  As First Responders we know that time is of the utmost importance, and being prepared to recognize that an individual has an intellectual disability, and being able to understand how to serve that individual, can mean the difference between life and death.

Interactive Disabilities Awareness Course for First Responders


Our national Breaking Barriers program provides comprehensive training to first responders, on how to serve individuals with intellectual disabilities while training them on how they can better understand and recognize the reactions and perceptions that they might encounter during an emergency situation, and how to break down potential barriers of service.  The course covers understanding and awareness, communication, misconceptions, and stress points and actions of the individual with a disability, allowing for a better understanding of how to work with these behaviors, and what they mean.  The training also offers key points on disabilities and the homes of those with disabilities, that will help keep the first responders safe.  In some geographical areas, we will also introduce into the class an individual with Down syndrome, which will allow attendees to ask questions, and hear for themselves how to better understand communication with people with intellectual disabilities.   


This course is available nationally to all first responders/departments (firefighters, EMS personnel and police officers), and is available for local and national first responder conferences, and academy/educational level first responder training.  This course takes 3 hours, which includes Q&A, and a break.

First Responder Course for Individuals with Intellectual Disabilities, and Their Families


The second offering provides highly interactive, hands-on trainings that allow for individuals with intellectual disabilities and their families, to work directly with and learn from first responders about what to expect in an emergency.  This piece provides individuals and families with the experience to touch and put on fire gear, examine emergency equipment, listen to sirens, see the inside of an ambulance, and to garner an authentic experience of what might happen in an emergency, and what not to be afraid of.  Specially illustrated and age appropriate books (and coloring books) are also provided during these sessions, as well as take home materials that includes a family emergency plan booklet.


This course is available nationally for non-profit organizations, schools, day programs, and independent living facilities.   


Both of our courses were designed through significant input of individuals with intellectual disabilities, and their families. Breaking Barriers is one of the 4 charitable programs of Exact Life, the 501(c)(3) charitable branch of Fire Life Training Associates.


Founded in 2020, Exact Life supports the following community programs:

  • The Fire Wife Life Fund

  • The Fire Family Fund

  • The Youth Life Fund

  • The Disabilities Life Fund – Breaking Barriers


Breaking Barriers continues to be presented across the country at large fire conferences, regional conferences, within local fire departments and within law enforcement forums and events.  Our training has been delivered to thousands of first responders throughout the country, and we are currently planning state Disabilities Awareness Conferences.  Our program is in such great demand that we are also preparing for regional Training the Trainer events.


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