What is the physical test like for firefighter certification?

It’s no surprise that firefighting is a mentally and physically demanding job, and the physical fitness test is an important part of the hiring process.

The physical tests are used to determine the level of applicant’s flexibility, leg, arm and grip strength, muscular endurance, core strength, aerobic capacity, body composition, and basic coordination.

Due to the demanding nature of the job, all applicant’s physical fitness must be tested both during and after the hiring process. The two most common physical tests for firefighters are the CPAT and the BIDDLE/PAT.

However, depending on where the firehouse is located, some stations may add additional aspects to their tests. For example, some firehouses will also require applicants to be strong swimmers or rock climbers.

The Candidate Physical Ability Test (CPAT) for Firefighters

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The most common firefighter fitness test used by fire departments in the United States is The Candidate Physical Ability Test, also known as the CPAT. The CPAT test is designed to emulate movements, and tasks firefighters have to conduct in the line of duty.

The CPAT consists of eight events that have to be completed correctly and safely within the time limit set. Each event is judged in a pass/fail system. During the CPAT, all candidates must wear a self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA), a 50-pound vest, and turnout gear.

The eight events applicants are required to pass the CPAT firefighter test are:

1. Ladder raising and extension

2. Forcible entry

3. Equipment carry

4. Hose Drag

5. Search

6. Rescue

7. Ceiling pull and breech

8. Stair climbing with an additional 25-pound weight carried on shoulders, which is meant to simulate the weight of a hose.

For more information, or to schedule your CPAT, click here.  

Consolidated Physical Ability Test (PAT)/BIDDLE for Firefighters

Similar to the CPAT, the PAT/BIDDLE, is designed to emulate movements and tasks firefighters have to conduct in the line of duty. Though this test is not as common as the CPAT, there are many similarities.

During the PAT/BIDDLE firefighter test, applicants are required to wear a fire helmet, self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA), turnout jacket, and firefighting gloves.

The PAT/BIDDLE consists of eleven events, which are judged on a pass/fail grading system.

The eleven events applicants are required to pass the CPAT/BIDDLE firefighter test are:

1. Attic crawl

2. Roof walk

3. Roof ventilation

4. Hose hoist

5. Charged hose deployment (water flowing in the hose)

6. Dry hose deployment (no water in the hose)

7. Victim removal (dummy drag)

8. Halyard raising/ladder extension

9. Ladder carry and removal

10.  Stair climbing while carrying a hose pack

Think you have what it takes? Click here for more information on what it takes to become a firefighter as well as what can disqualify interested applicants from pursuing a firefighting career.