THE move by Surrey Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) to recruit more firefighters, after losing 141 full-time members since a recruitment freeze in 2011, is continuing with training completed for 12 more recruits.

SFRS pledged to recruit 44 new firefighters by March as part of a £900,000 investment programme by Surrey County Council.

The latest 12 new recruits completed 13 weeks of training at the first Surrey and Sussex “tri-service” course for full-time firefighters.

The fire services in Surrey, East and West Sussex joined forces to run the intensive course which began in January at Surrey’s training centre in Reigate, with instructors from all three services as tutors. Twelve will now join Surrey, eight will join West Sussex, and four will join East Sussex.

As fire chiefs and county councillors looked on, the recruits performed a series of demonstrations including tackling a fire, performing a rescue from a third floor window and dealing with a three-car road traffic collision.

Denise Turner-Stewart, Surrey’s cabinet member for community safety, fire and resilience, said: “I’d like to sincerely congratulate our new recruits on their significant achievement in completing this testing and intensive course. I’m very proud to welcome them into Surrey’s fire service and wish them a long and fulfilling career serving and protecting our communities.

“This course has been a great way to pool the expertise of our three fire services and Surrey is looking forward to much more collaboration in the future.”

Debbie Kennard, West Sussex County Council’s cabinet member for safer, stronger communities, added: “I am so pleased to welcome our newest firefighters and it will be very exciting to see how their careers develop as they support their local communities. This course has been a wonderful opportunity to work with our neighbouring services and I look forward to collaboration on future courses.”

Surrey’s new recruits will be starting their new roles at various stations across the county in the coming weeks.

Another joint training course is already planned for September.

A plan to relocate SFRS headquarters was approved in March. The departments based at Wray Park in Reigate will now be moved off site. The £13.8m relocation also includes £2m to refurbish Reigate Fire Station, which will remain on its current site.