CHARLOTTE, N.C. _ When a local truck manufacturer started a new round of cost-cutting, a 30-something engineer raised his hand and took a buyout.
He then applied to be a Charlotte firefighter, hoping to trade career uncertainty for security _ and the satisfaction of public service.
Paul Weeks, now in his first month of firefighter training, bested 2,000 applicants last year for the opportunity. The odds are even longer this year as the worsening economy pushes firefighter applications to record highs.
As of Friday afternoon, about 2,800 people had applied for 50 openings, with interest from around the country and even a phone call from Guatemala.
In normal economic times, the department receives about 1,500 requests to take the written exam usually given in March.
The fire service is always a hot career in a cool economy, said Deputy Fire Chief Rich Granger. "There's a lot of job loss out there, and people are looking for that security."
Read the complete story at charlotteobserver.com