What Is CPAT?
The Candidate Physical Ability Test was developed to test firefighter candidates on their ability to perform simulated tasks consistent with the duties of a firefighter. It is designed to ensure that candidates possess the physical ability to complete critical tasks effectively and safely.
The CPAT consists of eight (8) separate events. Applicants must successfully complete the test in 10 minutes and 20 seconds or less. The test is a pass/fail event.
During the test, candidates wear a 50-pound vest to simulate the weight of self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) and firefighter protective clothing (turnouts). In addition, two 12.5-pound weights are placed on the candidate?s shoulders during the Stair Climb Event only, to simulate carrying a high-rise pack (hose bundle).
The eight (8) events are administered in a sequence that best simulates their use in a fire scene while allowing an 85-foot walk between events. To ensure the highest level of safety and to prevent candidates from exhaustion, no running is allowed between events. This walk allows candidates approximately 20 seconds to recover and regroup before each event.
The Eight Events of CPAT
1. Stair Climb
Using a Step Mill stair climbing machine, this event is designed to simulate the critical task of climbing stairs in full protective clothing and carrying a high-rise pack. The event challenges the candidate's aerobic capacity, lower body muscular endurance and ability to balance. During the Stair Climb, the candidate is required to wear two 12.5-pound weights on the shoulders to simulate the weight of a high-rise pack (hose bundle), in addition to the 50-pound vest.
After completing a 20-second warm-up on the Step Mill, at a rate of 50 steps per minute, the proctor instructs the candidate to begin the timed portion. There is no break in time between the warm-up period and the actual timing of the test. For the timed test, the applicant is required to walk on the Step Mill at a rate of 60 steps per minute for 3 minutes.
2. Hose Drag
The Hose Drag event is designed to simulate the critical tasks of dragging an uncharged hose line from the fire apparatus to the fire occupancy and pulling an uncharged hose line around obstacles while remaining stationary. This event challenges the applicant's aerobic capacity, lower body muscular strength and endurance, upper back muscular strength and endurance, grip strength and endurance and anaerobic endurance.
For successful completion of the event, the applicant must grasp a nozzle attached to 200 feet of hose, place the hose line over the shoulder and drag the hose 75 feet to a pre-positioned drum. When the candidate reaches the drum, he or she makes a 90-degree turn and continues an additional 25 feet. After stopping in the marked box, the candidate drops to at least one knee and proceeds to pull the hose until the 50-foot mark crosses the finish line.
3. Equipment Carry
This event is designed to simulate the critical task of removing power tools from the fire apparatus, carrying them to the emergency scene, and returning them to the apparatus. The Equipment Carry challenges the candidate's aerobic capacity, upper body muscular strength and endurance, lower body muscular endurance, grip endurance, and balance.
During this event, the candidate removes two (2) saws from the tool cabinet, one at a time, and places them on the ground. The candidate proceeds to pick up both saws (one in each hand), carry them while walking 75 feet around a drum and returning to the starting point. The event concludes with the candidate placing the saws back on the ground, then returning them (one at a time) to the designated cabinet space.
4. Ladder Raise and Extension
This event uses two, 24-foot ground ladders and is designed to simulate the critical tasks of placing a ground ladder at a fire structure and extending the ladder to the roof or window. The Ladder Raise and Extension challenges the candidate's aerobic capacity, upper body muscular strength, lower body muscular strength, balance, grip strength, and anaerobic endurance.
For successful completion of this event, the candidate must first walk to the top rung of the 24-foot extension ladder (while it is still on the ground), then lift the unhinged end and walk it up until it is stationary against the wall. This must be done in a hand-over-hand method, and it is not permissible to use the rails to raise the ladder. The candidate then proceeds to the pre-positioned and secured 24-foot ladder, stands with both feet within the marked box and extends the fly section hand-over-hand until it hits the top. The candidate then lowers the fly section (again hand-over-hand) to the starting position, which concludes this event.
5. Forcible Entry
This event uses a 10-pound sledgehammer and a mechanized device that measures cumulative force. It is designed to simulate the critical tasks of using force to open a locked door or breach a wall. This event challenges the candidate's aerobic capacity, upper body muscular strength and endurance, lower body muscular strength and endurance, balance, grip strength and endurance, and anaerobic endurance.
The candidate must use the sledgehammer to strike a measuring device in the target area until a buzzer activates. The candidate's feet must remain outside the toe-box at all times.
This event simulates the critical task of searching for a fire victim with limited visibility in an unpredictable area. The Search event challenges the candidate's aerobic capacity, upper body muscular strength and endurance, agility, balance, anaerobic endurance, and kinesthetic awareness. To successfully complete this event, the candidate must crawl on his/her hands and knees through a tunnel maze that is approximately 3 feet high, 4 feet wide, and 64 feet long, with two 90-degree turns. Throughout the maze the candidate will navigate around, over and under obstacles; and in two locations the candidate will crawl through a space where the dimensions of the tunnel have been reduced.
This event is designed to simulate the critical task of removing a victim or injured partner from a fire scene. The Rescue event challenges the candidate's aerobic capacity, upper and lower body muscular strength and endurance, grip strength and endurance, and anaerobic endurance. The candidate must grasp a 165-pound mannequin by the handle(s) on the shoulder(s) of the harness (either one or both handles are permitted), drag it 35 feet to a pre-positioned drum, make a 180-degree turn around the drum, and continue to drag it the remaining 35 feet to the finish line.
8. Ceiling Breach and Pull
This event simulates the critical task of breaching and pulling down a ceiling to check for fire extension, using a mechanized device that measures overhead push and pull forces and a pike pole. The pike pole, a long pole with a hook and point attached to one end, is a commonly used piece of equipment by firefighters. This event challenges the candidate's aerobic capacity, upper and lower body muscular strength and endurance, grip strength and endurance, and anaerobic endurance. During the Ceiling Breach and Pull, the candidate first removes a pike pole from the bracket, stands within an established boundary and places the tip of the pole on the painted area of a hinged door in the ceiling. Next, the candidate fully pushes up the door with the pike pole three (3) times, then hooks the pike pole to the ceiling device and pulls the pole down five (5) times. The candidate must complete four sets, each set consisting of three pushes and five pulls.
THIS CONCLUDES THE CPAT EXAM
PLEASE NOTE that this information is a general summary of the test events.
It does not include the full description of each event, nor does it include failure points. More detailed information about the CPAT is available through the links below (Preparation Guide and Orientation Guide).
How Do I Prepare for the CPAT?
The job of a firefighter is one of the most physically demanding jobs in North America, and requires high levels of aerobic endurance, muscular strength and muscular endurance. The Candidate Physical Ability Test consists of eight (8) critical physical tasks designed to simulate the job duties of a firefighter on the fire ground. This test is physically demanding and requires that one be physically fit to be successful. A CPAT Candidate Preparation Guide is available for all candidates who wish to prepare themselves for this test. Click on the link below to obtain the Preparation and Orientation Guides. Every candidate should begin preparing in advance for this physical test.
To read the CPAT Prep Guides, click on these links:
The Tucson Fire Department offers CPAT Orientations to those candidates who score high enough to take the CPAT. During the Orientation, applicants have the opportunity to learn more about the CPAT, methods to help prepare for the test, view the CPAT video, talk with instructors, and have a chance to examine and/or see demonstrated each test component. Candidates also have the opportunity to go through 2 timed practice runs prior to the actual test.