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Surrey’s first female firefighter retires after 30 years

Paula Hartwell joined Surrey Fire and Rescue Service in January 1993 as the services first female firefighter, and after 30 years she’s hanging up her helmet.

Since joining the service as a firefighter at Chertsey Fire Station, Paula went on to become a Leading Firefighter, followed by a Watch Commander in fire stations as well as fire safety and prevention departments. She then became a Station Commander at Woking Fire Station. After a short time within the Operations Assurance Team followed by Community Intelligence, Paula returned to Woking to finish her career.

Paula spoke of her career, she said: “I have enjoyed being part of the Surrey Fire and Rescue Service team – helping the communities which we serve and every day trying to make a difference.

“It has been both challenging and rewarding, I have learned many skills over the years and have great memories. I have loved my career immensely and hope that many more women take on the role.

Since joining the service, Paula has also welcomed three daughters with her other half Tony.

Dan Quin, Chief Fire Officer, said: “What a fantastic legacy Paula leaves behind here in Surrey – our first female firefighter paving the way for many more females after her, showing fire and rescue as being a successful career option. I am privileged to have worked with Paula for over 20 years and I know she will be greatly missed. Thank you, Paula.”

Surrey Fire and Rescue Service is currently recruiting on-call firefighters and Joint Fire Control operators. On-call firefighters respond via pager from their home or work. Joint Fire Control operators take emergency calls and mobilising for Surrey, West and East Sussex – the first person residents speak to in an emergency. Join a life-saving service and find out more by visiting www.surreycc.gov.uk/firecareers.

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