How to Become a Firefighter – The Physical Test

While firefighting per se tends to be very similar from local to community, courts have ruled that each municipality should analyze its own needs and develop a physical firefighter test designed to meet them.

In general, the firefighter’s physical tests will be designed to measure your ability to perform typical firefighting tasks. Typically, firefighters or similar-weight firefighters are expected to be typically 50 to 75 pounds.

If you want to get a good score, you must be physically fit and familiar with the events in which you are being tested. You should get as much information as possible about the requirements for the physical exam.

A good first step

A good first step is to determine if there will be a training program for the test. You should also find out if you can practice with the actual equipment that will be used in the test. If the answer is yes, make a strong effort to get to the training site and experience the test event. Many municipalities use CPAT or Candidates Physical Ability Test.

The cities and counties that use this test usually allow candidates to watch a movie about how the exam is structured and what you need to do to conduct the events effectively. So if your municipality uses CPAT, make sure you arrange events to watch the movie and be prepared to take note of appropriate techniques and actions.

Before taking the physical examination, find out the testing agency, fire department or personnel department, which restrictions may be imposed for each event.

Questions you should try to get answers to about possible limitations

How is the test assessed? Will it pass / fail test, or will there be a grade?

Will there be a set deadline for completion? Your test may have a total time to complete all events or a specific time for each event. For example, CPAT has a total time for all events – 10 minutes and 20 seconds. On the other hand, the New York Physical Ability Test has a specific time interval for each of its eight individual events.

If the test is a speed test, what time do you need to get the highest score? How long can you take to get a passing score?

What kind of personal protective equipment should you wear? Or will this equipment be excluded from use during the test?

How do you know the beginning and end of each event? In other words, what constitutes a successful completion of each test event?

Finally, would you allow a rest period between events? And if so, how long will the rest be?

Typical events

While you may think you can prepare for the physical exam by doing exercises like chin-ups, weightlifting, push-ups, etc., this is not the case. The exercise program you undertake to prepare for a firefighter’s physical examination should prepare your body to twist, bend, jump, run, lift and carry heavy weights.

Although this exam varies from municipality to municipality, there are some events that you will almost certainly be tested on. Below are 10 of them. However, keep in mind that this is just the summary of events. For complete descriptions, you need a book like Barron’s firefighter exam or firefighter- Written tests- Physical tests by Robert Andriuolo

1. Hose / tool carrier. This event tests your ability to lift a length of fire hose weighing approx. 50 kg from an elevated position or from the floor and then carry it at a distance of 75 to 250 feet. You may also need to climb the stairs while carrying the hose.

2. Feed Hose / Hose Feed This test is used to measure your ability to pull (move) the hose at a distance of 50 to 200 feet.

3. Feed the hose. The snake advance test is to measure your ability to work and pull a fire hose in a tight space of 50 meters or more. It is to simulate moving a snake into a fire area.

4. Hose coupling. In this test, you will attach a female hose connector to a male connector on a fire pistol while in a standing position. This is to measure your ability to connect a hose to a hydrant or other hose fitting. You may need to do this several times and carry a pack of 25 pounds while performing the test.

5. Hose Lift This test, which measures your ability to pull the hose up outside the building or to the top floor, is usually performed from a standing position. The event is considered completed when the hose reaches a certain end point. You may need to carry an air tank during this test.

6. Staircase / high event. The purpose of this event is to test your ability to climb the stairs while wearing such firefighting equipment as a hose, nozzle, hand tools, etc. It may include carrying hand tools, a spare air cylinder or a length of folded hose. You are asked to climb approximately three to six flights of stairs to a designated stopping point while carrying equipment that weighs approximately 25 pounds. You may be asked to do this two or three times and carry an air pack while performing the test.

7. Ladder rise. This event is designed to measure your ability to climb up to 20 to 24 feet of ladder. You may need to carry an air pack or carry a tool while performing this event. It may also be necessary to dismantle the ladders at the top elevation, walk around the ladder, mount and then climb down the ladder.

8. Ladder Raise .. This test is to measure your ability to lift a ladder from a horizontal position to a vertical position. You pick up one end of a 20 to 24 foot ladder and then lift it from the horizontal to the vertical position using a wall or other fixed point like a brace.

9. Ladder extension / hoist. The ladder extension / hoist test is to measure your ability to apply a traction to raise the fly section of an extension ladder. You will be in a standing position and pull a pull rope downward until the flight ladder is extended by three to six steps. You may also need to lower the fly ladder.

10. Charger control / equipment carrying. In this test, you start from a standing position and lift a 10 to 20 foot ladder and then carry it a certain distance to a predetermined end point. The purpose of the test is to simulate lifting a portable ladder from the side of a fire apparatus and then transporting it to where it will be used. You will then place the ladder on either a tripod or on the ground. Then lift the equipment from the floor, closet or shelf and carry it about 150 meters around a loop, returning to the starting position if you want to either place the equipment on the ground or back in the closet is on the shelf.