Two thousand hopes fired by a dozen jobs: Hard times secure huge response to fire service vacancies

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The Independent Online
THE STRESS caused by unemployment was etched vividly on the faces of men queuing for jobs with Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service. More than 2,000 people are chasing 12 vacancies for firefighters, writes Will Bennett.

They include hundreds of miners who have lost their jobs as pits closed, and there are some women among the applicants for places on the firefighters' training course.

At the first of two sessions, 1,000 people underwent a preliminary examination. Anyone under 5ft 6ins or over 6ft 4ins tall was eliminated, along with those with bad eyesight or poor physique.

About 800 went away clutching application forms. On 7 July more than 1,000 other candidates will go through the same procedure in Mansfield, where unemployment stands at 13.5 per cent.

Those who return the forms will then be whittled down by a series of tests. Exams in English and mathematics will be followed by practical tests, an interview and a medical. It will be six months before the 12 people chosen for the training course starting next January will be told of their success.

Assistant Divisional Officer Neil Terry, commandant of the training centre, said: 'Selecting them is a very long process. This was just the first of the elimination procedures.'

For those not chosen, the search for work will continue. There are usually hundreds of applicants for every job in the area.

(Photograph omitted)