Suffolk’s fire service has been inundated with hundreds of applications for just 30 full time firefighter jobs, new data has revealed.

Suffolk Fire and Rescue held seven taster days during the autumn for people interested in becoming a wholetime firefighter to find out more.

Those events attracted around 450 people, but according to cabinet member Richard Rout's report ahead of full council next week, the application process closed on January 12 with nearly 700 applicants.

Ken Williamson, area commander for Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service, said: 'We had a really encouraging response to our recent recruitment campaign for wholetime firefighters - around 700 people applied.

'We are now going through the next stages of the process, with the aim of identifying around 30 candidates who will make the grade. They will be offered the chance to fill vacancies when they become available.

'We work hard to make Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service an inclusive place to work, and to have a diverse workforce representing all communities across Suffolk.

'We believe we are the first fire and rescue service in the country to introduce a new, inclusive psychometric assessment to help achieve this. This was a simple online, digital test which was fair to all applicants.

'Although applications are now closed for wholetime firefighters, we are still recruiting for on-call firefighters. Being a firefighter is unlike any other job and I think people would be surprised about the variety of work we do.'

The next stage will see applicants go through a series of aptitude tests including assessments in fitness, equipment assembly, carrying equipment and ladder climbing.

The council report added: 'The final stage is an interview which will take place during April.'

The service held its first drive for a decade for full time firefighters in the spring of 2018.

It is also continuing in efforts to recruit on-call firefighters - those who work regular day jobs but can be available at the touch of a button to man a fire engine.

The county is facing particular shortfalls in rural areas where availability is more difficult.

To find out more visit the county council website here.