CONWAY, S.C. (WBTW) — Horry County Fire Rescue graduated 52 recruits Friday night, the second-largest recruit class in South Carolina history.

The record belongs to HCFR’s previous class in April, which had 58 graduates. The department holds the record for the three largest classes in the Palmetto State.

HCFR spokesperson Tony Casey said the large classes are becoming a trend as the county continues to grow as well.

“When Horry County is growing leaps and bounds like it is in population, its first responders, its public safety has to grow along with it,” Casey said.

The 52 recruits will join the ranks of more than 650 firefighters, both career and volunteer firefighters, on staff. The department’s rapid growth in just the last three years has also allowed it to add staffing to each truck to a level that’s above the national standard. Each truck now has four assigned firefighters.

When you show that level of growth, when we compare it to our peers across the U.S., it’s something we’re extremely proud of,” Casey said.

Mason Brunner, Class 45 valedictorian, will start his firefighting career with HCFR at Station 46. It’s the Pitch Landing station in Conway.

Brunner said he can’t wait for his first day on the streets.

“Oh, I’m so pumped,” Brunner said. “All my work up to this point has led to that day, and I can’t wait.”

Brunner’s 51 classmates will be spread out across the department’s 40 stations. Casey said the firefighters are needed everywhere in Horry County from the metropolitan areas by the beach to the rural, western parts of the county.

“We don’t have one necessary focal point because Horry County is growing leaps and bounds all across its borders,” Casey said.

The new class of recruits features members from across the country, and Casey said he expects that pattern to continue as the county and department both keep growing.