New wholetime firefighters for three fire and rescue services are being trained together as part of an ongoing campaign to attract more recruits.
West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service, Surrey Fire and Rescue Service, and East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service joined forces for the 13-week course, which started on Monday.
Marvin Smith, course commander and training delivery manager for West Sussex, said: "This is an exciting opportunity to work with our neighbouring services in Surrey and East Sussex and I am very pleased that this programme will pool our skills and experience to help our new staff be the best they can be.
"Being a firefighter is not an easy role but I am sure our recruits will rise to the challenge as we teach them a range of new skills. I can’t wait for them to get started.”
There are 24 recruits taking part in the training to become full-time community firefighters, 12 from Surrey, eight from West Sussex, and four from East Sussex.
Hannah Scott Youldon, assistant director of training and assurance for East Sussex, said: "We are really pleased to be welcoming new recruits and it’s great that they will be training alongside colleagues in our neighbouring fire and rescue services.
"Becoming a firefighter is an exciting opportunity which we hope our recruits will enjoy.
"It’s not just about learning the practical skills around how to deal with emergencies, but also having resilience, good communication skills and committing to doing your best for the community you serve.”
The new recruits are being put through their paces at Surrey’s training centre Wray Park, with instructors from all three services as tutors.
Mark Arkwell, assistant chief fire officer for Surrey, said: “We’re pleased to be joining forces with our partners in East and West Sussex to equip our latest recruits with the skills they need to be 21st century firefighters – how to keep themselves, their team-mates and Surrey residents safe, through protecting communities from incidents happening in the first place as well as responding if they do.
"It’s just one part of the ongoing work we’re doing to recruit the firefighters we need and this collaborative approach helps us do that in an efficient and effective way.”