The firefighter physical test is a grueling exam that separates the weak from the strong. This test pushes your limits and sees how you react under pressure. It is important to remember that this test is complex and will take everything you have to pass it.
The exam measures your physical fitness and sees if you can perform the essential duties of a firefighter.
The test has three main parts: endurance, strength, and agility. However, you might have to complete specific scenarios during a PAT.
Know that the primary goal of the test is to decide if a candidate is physically fit for duty. This requirement is regardless of your age, gender, shape, or size.
Each Fire Department may have different requirements for the various test parts, so check with your local Department for specific details.
Firefighter physical requirements
To become a firefighter, you must be in excellent physical condition to succeed in the test. Therefore, you can increase your chances of success by preparing ahead of time and focusing on the correct exercises.
Know that it is mandatory to pass the firefighter physical test to become certified.
The test includes several scenarios that assess various aspects of physical fitness that you must complete within a specific time.
Why do you need to pass a Firefighter Physical Test?
Remember that firefighters must be physically fit to manage the job’s demands.
Therefore, you must be able to lift heavy equipment, climb stairs, and move quickly in sometimes difficult and dangerous situations.
Components of the firefighter physical test
The firefighter’s physical test has three common parts, each designed to evaluate a different aspect of the candidates’ body response.
Cardiovascular Endurance Test
The first section is the cardiovascular endurance test, assessing your capacity to run long distances without tiring.
To complete this test section, you require running two miles on a treadmill or an elliptical machine. You must finish the two miles in under sixteen minutes to qualify.
Next comes the muscle test. It will evaluate your upper body’s power and how much you can lift. Furthermore, it will measure your ability to hold heavy objects for a long time and move quickly.
To complete this testing, you must lift a fifty-pound weight ten times in under sixty seconds.
The last section is the agility test, assessing your ability to move quickly, change directions, and measure your coordination and balance.
You’ll need to complete an obstacle course as fast as possible in this part of the exam. This section will allow you to prove that you can move quickly and easily. Furthermore, it will show that you can climb, jump, and run.
Firefighter Physical Ability Test (PAT) scenarios
Different scenarios can be present for your PAT. These scenarios can measure your power, stamina, and agility while performing tasks like those you might meet during your daily firefighting routine.
Note that some of these scenarios may vary depending on your local Fire Department training policies.
The most common procedures are:
- Charged hose line drag
- Charged hose line reel
- Ladder raise
- Forcible entry
- Equipment carries
- Stair climb
- Dummy drag
- Ceiling breach and pull
Charged hose line drag
You’ll pick up a 10 feet line tied to a 95-pound box. Then, you must tug the gadget for about 90 feet.
Charged hose line reel
A proctor will guide you to a square marked on the floor for this part. Next, you’ll have to reel in 50 feet of the rope into the designated space.
You must always remain inside the five-by-five square. Try not to get entangled with the line.
In this situation, you’ll have to raise and lower a 24-foot extension ladder using a hand-over-hand technique.
A safety rope would protect you if you lose equilibrium and drop the device.
In this simulation, you’ll employ a sledgehammer to strike and move a sled target 12 inches.
You’ll have to hit it multiple times to achieve your goal.
In this event, you’ll have to dismount a gas-powered “positive pressure ventilation” fan (PPV) from its location. Afterward, you’ll require to carry the device, which weighs around 45 pounds, 50 feet to a cone and back.
You can stop and rest the fan on the floor during the test.
In the following simulation, you’ll carry a 42-pound bundle up and down from a third floor. The prop you’ll use has railings and four paces for going up and down the stairs.
You must carry the package back and forth seven times, hitting every pace on the way.
In the next exercise, you must haul a human dummy that weighs 165 pounds, 25 feet forward and back around a barrel.
You can only raise the dummy from the attached harness.
This scenario can simulate having to haul a rescue victim out of a building to safety.
Ceiling breach and pull
For this simulation, you must put a pike pole in the target and perform three breach repetitions. The resistance is about 60 pounds.
After that, you must hook the pike pool to the pull part of the simulator and perform five repetitions. The resistance is about 80 pounds.
You’ll have to repeat both simulations a total of 4 times.
TIPS for your PAT scenarios
- Don’t worry about remembering everything. A guide or monitor will supply step-by-step instructions on what to do at each Firefighter Physical Test simulation.
- Depending on the State and fire department, they might use other scenarios, rules, and time constraints.
- You must wear an empty self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) without a facepiece or a low-pressure tube.
- Additionally, you’ll have to wear firefighting gloves and a protective helmet.
- Never run during a test. You’ll receive a first and sometimes last warning. A second warning may be grounds for disqualification.
- You may request a retest in case of a gadget malfunction. Any second chances will happen on the same day.
- If you have questions, don’t hesitate to ask!
How to prepare for the Firefighter Physical Test?
You require different approaches for each part of the firefighter fitness test.
To prepare for the endurance test, you should focus on cardiovascular exercises such as running, biking, or swimming.
For the muscle test, you should focus on individual exercises that work your upper body, such as push-ups.
Finally, for the agility test, you should focus on activities that improve your balance and coordination, such as jump squats.
The best workouts for firefighters (or aspiring ones!)
Start preparing today by incorporating these four exercises into your workout routine to ensure you ace the test.
Do interval training
Include short bursts of high-intensity activity followed by recovery periods. This routine will help you build up your endurance to complete the two-mile walk within the 15-minute time limit.
Incorporate power training
Power-training exercises like push-ups and sit-ups will help you build muscle endurance.
Practice the timed stair climb
Most firefighters will need to be able to climb a five-story tower within six minutes. To prepare for this, find a set of stairs and time yourself as you climb.
Wear turnout gear
Extra weight from your gear will make the physical test more difficult. Therefore, exercise while wearing your turnout gear to get comfortable with the added weight.
Firefighter’s medical disqualifications
Before taking the exams, you’ll undergo a medical evaluation. During this evaluation, a doctor will ask questions to probe your physical and mental health.
Firefighting is challenging and takes a heavy toll on the body. Therefore, some medical conditions may disqualify you at once from moving forward.
Not all health conditions are equal, and not all will disqualify you. It will depend on what you have, its severity, and whether it’s under control.
It can be disheartening, but a firefighter must be in top physical shape to deal with emergencies.
Furthermore, your Fire Captain will immediately throw you out if you lie or conceal a medical condition. Therefore, it’s best, to be honest about any medical condition you suffer.
Category A Medical Disqualifications
The following conditions can disqualify you at once for firefighting duty (according to the NFPA):
- Diabetes Mellitus, particularly with insulin dependence
- Clotting or bleeding disorders
- Neurologic conditions. An extensive list includes cerebral arteriosclerosis, seizures/epilepsy, cerebral aneurysm, dementia, multiple sclerosis, myasthenia, Parkinson’s, cognitive impairment, and others.
- Cardiac conditions. The list includes coronary artery disease, congestive heart failure, acute pericarditis, and recurrent syncope.
- Respiratory conditions. For example, if you have emphysema, pulmonary hypertension, active tuberculosis, hypoxemia, or had a lung transplant.
- Cancer, regardless of being active or in remission status.
- Eyes and vision, having a far visual acuity of less than 20/40 (corrected) or less than 20/100 (uncorrected).
- Hearing conditions, for example, having chronic vertigo or a hearing loss more significant than 40 decibels (dB).
- Having Kidney failure or under dialysis treatment.
- Scoliosis greater than 40 degrees angle deviations.
- History of drug abuse.
- Psychiatric conditions.
To become a part of the fire service, one must be in top physical and mental health.
Some tips and pointers here will help you prepare for the evaluation.
Concentrate on your workouts, don’t skip training sessions, and prepare for one of the most challenging physical recruiting processes.