IN THE PRESS: Surefire is enjoying strong demand for solid fuel training

Erica Royle, editor of Fires & Fireplaces magazine visited the training centre to find out more about what sets the company apart

The following article was written and published by Fires & Fireplaces, August 2017 and is reproduced with permission.

Part of the Docherty Group since 2010, Surefire Training Services has seen significant growth over the past two years.

The purpose built facility just off the M1 in Ripley, Derbyshire offers a comprehensive range of specialist training courses for installers. As the very first approved HETAS Training centre in 2009, these include the full suite of HETAS courses as well as a range of BPEC accredited and practical courses.

Individual needs

Training manager Cris Whitcombe joined Surefire in early 2015 from Grimsby College.

He and technical manager Keith Petitjean undertake the majority of training themselves aided by a team of training subcontractors the company can call on when they are needed.

Pictured: Keith Petitjean delivering a training course at Surefire

While the growth the company has seen recently can in part be attributed to industry demand, Cris also believes that customer service has played a key role.

Surefire has an excellent reputation for a level of customer service that goes above and beyond what candidates might be used to receiving from a training centre. It is vital that we make our customers feel valued from the first phone call, through to the final assessment and beyond, and we do this by ensuring that we address their individual training needs. – Cris Whitcombe

Surefire’s facility gives candidates the opportunity to gain hands-on practical experience with a range of solid fuel appliances and chimney systems.

Courses are run in small groups with attention paid to any specific learning requirements. Cris added: “We take time during the enrolment stage to get to know our candidates to ensure that they get the best learning experience. We have a range of techniques that can be used, including special text filters, should a candidate have a learning difficulty for example. Plus we don’t charge for a reader if one is needed during the assessment stage of the course.”

National accreditation

In September 2015 Surefire secured ELCAS, the MOD’s Enhanced learning Credits Scheme to promote lifelong learning amongst members of the Armed Forces, accreditation and this too has helped boost business for Surefire with a surge of take up on HETAS courses among ex military personnel.

Surefire also offers BPEC accredited courses for the heating, plumbing and renewable industry with courses including Energy Efficiency Part L, Unvented Hot Water Systems and Legionella Risk Assessment on offer.

As a HETAS approved training centre, Surefire offers the complete range of HETAS training on site in Ripley and at the NACS training centre in Staffordshire. commenting on Surefire’s service, Mike Harvey, HETAS training and technical support manager, said

Surefire has a fully equipped and state of the art training centre and highly experienced staff which offers candidates the perfect combination of practical experience and classroom tuition. – Mike Harvey, HETAS

The latest HETAS course to be added is the H009 Service and Maintenance course. This two day practical course is described by Surefire as “ideal for businesses that don’t wish to undertake installation work who have relevant experience including stove retailers, chimney sweeps, allied trades such as plumbing and heating installers, maintenance operatives and housing associations with housing stock using solid fuel as primary heat source.”

Surefire also offers its own bespoke practical courses, Cris explained: A first for the industry, these courses cover open fire, stove and flexible liner installation and are designed to enable the delegate to gain experience in a safe and supervised environment. These courses may be used to form a part of the delegates portfolio or detailed work CV of relevant experience when applying to a competent persons registration scheme.

Added incentives

Recognising that the training market is highly competitive, Surefire has introduced a range of offers designed as an added incentive for customers. Cris commented: This summer we have been offering free hotel accommodation to those attending the HETAS H003 and H006 courses, and we also have incentives linked to unit sales through Docherty that enable retailers to benefit from free places on HETAS Approved Retailer course. These offers fit well with our customer service proposition and our commitment to always go the extra mile.

For full details on Surefire’s complete range of training courses call 01773 570408 or visit


Written by Erica Royle, editor of Fires & Fireplaces Magazine

The article originally appeared in the August 2017 issue of Fires & Fireplaces Magazine. For the original article please visit

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