Candidate Physical Ability Test (CPAT)

Stage Three, Part One - The Candidate Physical Ability Test (CPAT)

The CPAT is a widely used, comprehensive physical ability test designed specifically for the fire service. Use of the CPAT has specific requirements for candidate preparation, orientation and practice sessions. All candidates should receive “hands-on” familiarity with the test apparatus and receive guidance on specific conditioning regimens and techniques to help them prepare for the test. It is the responsibility of the applicant to be familiar with CPAT procedures and expectations prior to your scheduled CPAT date.

PRE-TEST PROCEDURES

CPAT ORIENTATION

Pursuant to the conciliation agreement with the EEOC, the CPAT program must provide all candidates an opportunity to attend at least one or two CPAT orientations. Additionally, all candidates must should receive “hands-on” familiarity with the test apparatus and receive guidance on specific conditioning regimens and techniques to help them prepare for the test. Candidates are encouraged to participate in scheduled orientation sessions. The on-site fitness orientation session provides you the opportunity to view the CPAT events, talk with instructors, physically examine test equipment, tools and props and practice. The orientations are conducted in small groups.  It is the responsibility of the applicant to be familiar with CPAT procedures and expectations prior to your scheduled CPAT date. Since CPAT guidelines specify that all applicants must be given an opportunity to attend one or two orientation sessions within eight weeks prior to scheduled CPAT, any individual choosing not to attend orientations must complete the Waiver of Orientations and Timed Trials Form, acknowledging that sessions were made available to them and that they voluntarily waived the opportunity to participate. 

WAIVER

Although the orientation set forth above must be treated as a mandatory condition for candidates taking the CPAT, it is recognized that candidates with formalized training believe that they are capable of passing the CPAT without attending an orientation. It is also recognized that resources devoted to the orientation are best spent on candidates who will truly benefit from this assistance. It is therefore permissible to excuse candidates from this requirement upon receipt of a written and signed waiver from the candidate acknowledging an orientation was made available to all candidates on an equal basis and that the candidate voluntarily and knowingly waives the opportunity to participate in the orientation.

Candidates must sign the waiver if they wish to participate in the CPAT Test without participating in the orientation. 

PRE-APPRAISAL  SCREENING

All candidates will participate in the pre-appraisal screening before continuing with the Stage Three Assessments.  A series of questions will be asked by the medical officer.  In addition, the OFAI Medical Questionnaire, and if required, the OFAI Medical Clearance Form, must be completed to identify those candidates for whom certain physical activities might be inappropriate. Candidates are required to consult with their physician if they answer “Yes” to any questions on the Medical Questionnaire.  Candidates will be required to provide their physician with the Physician Information Booklet and have their physician complete the Medical Clearance Form  before they can continue with testing. Please Note:  Candidates who are pregnant should obtain medical clearance before registering and participating in Stage Three.  Please contact the OFAI office for more information.

Medical Questionnaire

Medical Clearance Form 

Physician Information Booklet 

Candidate’s heart rate and blood pressure are measured prior to proceeding.Candidates will not be permitted to participate in the clinical assessment if their resting heart rate exceeds 100 beats per minute. The last component of the pre-appraisal screening involves measuring the candidates resting blood pressure. Resting blood pressure will be measured using a sphygmomanometer and stethoscope.Candidates will not be permitted to participate in the clinical assessment if their resting systolic blood pressure measurement is greater than 140 mm Hg and/or their resting diastolic blood pressure is greater than 90 mm Hg.  Candidates are given three blood pressure readings.  If after the first measurement, you may be asked to rest in the cafeteria and come back in a specific time.  If after the third reading and your blood pressure is still high, you will not be able to participate. 

Once each component of the pre-appraisal screening is successfully completed, the candidate is cleared to participate in the clinical assessment.

The job of a firefighter is one of the most physically demanding jobs in North America. It requires high levels of cardiopulmonary endurance, muscular strength and muscular endurance. The Candidate Physical Ability Test consists of eight critical physical tasks that simulate actual job duties on the fire ground. This test is physically demanding and requires that you be physically fit to be successful. This guide was developed to assist you with physically preparing yourself for the test.

The CPAT consists of eight separate events. This test is a sequence of events that requires the candidate to progress along a predetermined path from event to event in a continuous manner.

This is a pass/fail test based on a maximum total time of 10 minutes and 20 seconds.

In these events, the candidate wears a 50-pound (22.68-kg) vest to simulate the weight of self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) and fire fighter protective clothing.

An additional 25 pounds (11.34 kg), using two 12.5-pound (5.67-kg) weights that simulate a high-rise pack (hose bundle), is added for the stair climb event. Throughout all events, the candidate must wear long pants, a hard hat with chin strap, work gloves and footwear with no open heel or toe. Watches and loose or restrictive jewellery are not permitted.

All props were designed to obtain the necessary information regarding the candidate’s physical ability. The tools and equipment were chosen to provide the highest level of consistency, safety and validity in measuring the candidate’s physical abilities. The events are placed in a sequence that best simulates their use in a fire scene while allowing an 85-foot (25.91-m) walk between events. To ensure the highest level of safety and to prevent candidate from exhaustion, no running is allowed between events. This walk allows the candidate approximately 20 seconds to recover and regroup before each event. If the candidate runs between events they receive one warning. A second infraction constitutes a failure, the test time is concluded and the candidate fails the test. To ensure scoring accuracy by eliminating timer failure, two stopwatches are used to time the CPAT. One stopwatch is designated as the official test time stopwatch, the second is the backup stopwatch. If mechanical failure occurs on the official stopwatch, the time on the backup stopwatch is used. The stopwatches are set to the pass/fail time and count down from 10 minutes and 20 seconds. If time elapses prior to the completion of the test, the test is concluded and the candidate fails the test.

TEST PROCEDURES

The CPAT includes eight sequential events as follows:

1. Stair Climb  

2. Hose Drag  

3. Equipment Carry 

4. Ladder Raise and Extension 

5. Forcible Entry 

6. Search 

7. Rescue 

8. Ceiling Breach and Pull 

EVENT 1 STAIR CLIMB

EQUIPMENT

StairMaster StepMill — NOTE: Position the unit with one side up against a wall and the specified elevated platform on the side opposite the wall. The handrail on the side opposite the wall is to be removed. The handrail on the wall side is left in place for the candidate to grasp while mounting and dismounting the StepMill. Additional steps are to be placed at the base of the StepMill to reduce the height needed to mount the StepMill.

PURPOSE OF EVALUATION

This event is designed to simulate the critical tasks of climbing stairs in full protective clothing while carrying a high-rise pack (hose bundle) and climbing stairs in full protective clothing carrying fire fighter equipment. This event challenges the candidate’s aerobic capacity, lower body muscular endurance and ability to balance. This event affects the aerobic energy system as well as the following muscle groups: quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, calves, and lower back stabilizers.

EVENT

During this event, the candidate is required to wear two 12.5-pound (5.67-kg) weights on the shoulders to simulate the weight of a high-rise pack (hose bundle). Prior to the initiation of the timed CPAT, the candidate has a 20-second warm-up on the StepMill at a set stepping rate of 50 steps per minute [Level 3]. During this warm-up period, the candidate is permitted to dismount, grasp the rail or hold the wall to establish balance and cadence. If the candidate falls or steps off the StepMill during the 20-second warm-up period, the candidate is required to remount the StepMill and restart the entire 20-second warm-up period.  The candidate is allowed to restart the warm-up period twice. There is no break in time between the warm-up period and the actual timing of the test. The timing of the test begins at the end of this warm-up period when the proctor calls out “START.” For the test, the candidate is required to walk on the StepMill at a set stepping rate of 60 steps per minute [Level 4] for 3 minutes. This concludes the event. The two 12.5-pound (5.67-kg) weights are removed from the candidate’s shoulders. The candidate walks 85 feet (25.91 m) within the established walkway to the next event.

The following practices are allowed:

• The candidate is allowed to briefly touch the handrails or wall for balance
• The candidate is given up to two warnings for grabbing the handrails or bearing their body weight on the handrails / wall
• The candidate is allowed to restart the warm-up period twice

The following practices constitute a failure:

• The candidate falls or voluntarily dismounts the Step Mill three times during the warm up.
• The candidate falls or voluntarily dismounts the Step Mill after the start of the test.
• The candidate commits a third infraction for grasping the handrails or bearing weight on the handrails / wall after the start on the test.

Reasons for failure

• Falling demonstrates poor balance or muscular endurance and could cause injury to the candidate.
• Using the handrails or wall for weight bearing gives the candidate a mechanical advantage that may not be available to them on the fire ground or demonstrates poor balance, conditioning or muscular endurance.

EVENT 2 - HOSE DRAG

EQUIPMENT

This event uses an uncharged fire hose with a hoseline nozzle. The hoseline is marked at 8 feet (2.24 m) past the coupling at the nozzle to indicate the maximum amount of hose you are permitted to drape across your shoulder or chest. The hoseline is also marked at 50 feet (15.24 m) past the coupling at the nozzle to indicate the amount of hoseline that you must pull into a marked boundary box before completing the test.

PURPOSE OF EVALUATION

This event is designed to simulate the critical tasks of dragging an uncharged hoseline from the fire apparatus to the fire occupancy and pulling an uncharged hoseline around obstacles while remaining stationary. This event challenges the candidate’s aerobic capacity, lower body muscular strength and endurance, upper back muscular strength and endurance, grip strength and endurance, and anaerobic endurance. This event affects the aerobic and anaerobic energy systems as well as the following muscle groups: quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, calves, lower back stabilizers, biceps, deltoids, upper back, and muscles of the forearm and hand (grip).

EVENT

During this event, the candidate grasps an automatic nozzle attached to 200 feet (60 m) of 1 3/4-inch (44-mm) hose. The candidate places the hoseline over the shoulder or across the chest, not exceeding the 8-foot (2.44-m) mark. The candidate is permitted to run during the hose drag. The candidate drags the hose 75 feet (22.86 m) to a prepositioned drum, makes a 90° turn around the drum and continues an additional 25 feet (7.62 m). The candidate then stops within the marked 5 foot x 7 foot (1.52 m x 2.13m) box, drops to at least one knee and pulls the hoseline until the hoseline’s 50-foot (15.24-m) mark is across the finish line. During the hose pull, the candidate must keep at least one knee in contact with the ground and knee(s) must remain within the marked boundary lines. This concludes the event. The candidate walks 85 feet (25.91 m) within the established walkway to the next event.

The following practices are allowed:

• The candidate is given one warning to keep one knee down.
• The candidate is given one warning to keep the knees in bounds.
• The candidate is given one warning for taking one step out of the box.
• The candidate is permitted to run during the hose drag

The following practices constitute a failure:

• The candidate fails to go around the drum.
• The candidate travels outside of the marked path.
• The candidate takes two steps out of the back of the box
• The candidate receives a second infraction for not keeping one knee in contact with the ground.
• The candidate receives a second infraction for the knees being outside of the marked boundary.

Reasons for failure:

Running beyond the marked path gives the candidate a mechanical advantage by decreasing the distance required to pull the hose by hand. This advantage may not be available on the fire ground. This demonstrates a lack of upper body strength by using lower body strength to compensate.

By not keeping their knee on the floor a candidate could compensate for a deficiency in grip and upper body strength by standing up.

EVENT 3 EQUIPMENT CARRY

EQUIPMENT

This event uses two saws and a tool cabinet replicating a storage cabinet on a fire truck.

PURPOSE OF EVALUATION

This event is designed to simulate the critical tasks of removing power tools from a fire apparatus, carrying them to the emergency scene and returning the equipment to the fire apparatus. This event challenges the candidate’s aerobic capacity, upper body muscular strength and endurance, lower body muscular endurance, grip endurance, and balance. This event affects the aerobic energy system as well as the following muscle groups: biceps,  deltoids, upper back, trapezius, muscles of the forearm and hand (grip), glutes, quadriceps, and hamstrings.

EVENT

During this event, the candidate removes the two saws from the tool cabinet, one at a time, and places them on the ground. The candidate then picks up both saws, one in each hand, and carries them while walking 75 feet (22.86m) around the drum, then back to the starting point. The candidate is permitted to place the saw(s) on the ground and adjust the grip. Upon return to the tool cabinet, the candidate places the saws on the ground, then picks up each saw one at a time, and replaces the saw in the designated space in the cabinet. This concludes the event. The candidate walks 85 feet (25.91 m) within the established walkway to the next event.

The following practice is allowed:

• The candidate is given one warning for running.
• The candidate is allowed to set the tools on the ground to adjust and re-establish the grip.

The following practices constitute a failure:

• The candidate drops either saw during the carry.
• The candidate receives a second infraction for running with the saws.

Reasons for failure:

• Dropping the saws could injure the candidate and demonstrates poor grip strength or muscular endurance.
• Running with saws could cause injury if the candidate trips.

EVENT 4 LADDER RAISE AND EXTENSION

EQUIPMENT

This event uses two 24-foot (7.32-m) fire department ladders. For your safety, a retractable lanyard is attached to the ladder that you raise.

PURPOSE OF EVALUATION

This event 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. This event challenges candidate’s aerobic capacity, upper body muscular strength, lower body muscular strength, balance, grip strength, and anaerobic endurance. This event affects the aerobic and anaerobic energy systems as well as the following muscle groups: biceps, deltoids, upper back, trapezius, muscles of the forearm and hand (grip), glutes, quadriceps, and hamstrings.

EVENT

During this event, the candidate walks to the top rung of the24-foot (7.32-m) aluminum extension ladder, lifts the first rung at the unhinged end from the ground, and walks it up until it is stationary against the wall. This must be done in a hand over hand fashion, using each rung until the ladder is stationary against the wall. The candidate must not use the ladder rails to raise the ladder. The candidate immediately proceeds to the pre-positioned and secured 24-foot (7.32-m) aluminum extension ladder, stands with both feet within the marked box of 36 inches x 36 inches (91.44 cm x 91.44cm) and extends the fly section hand over hand until it hits the stop. The candidate then lowers the fly section hand overhand in a controlled fashion to the starting position. This concludes the event. The candidate walks 85 feet (25.91 m) within the established walkway to the next event.

The following practices are allowed:

• The candidate is given one warning for missing any rung during the raise.
• The candidate is given one warning for a boundary violation during the ladder extension.

The following practices constitute a failure:

• The candidate receives a second infraction for missing any rung during the raise.
• The candidate allows the ladder to fall to the ground during the raise.
• The candidate releases their grip on the ladder and the safety lanyard activates.
• The candidate receives a second infraction for not remaining within the marked boundary during the ladder extension.
• The candidate does not control the halyard in a handover hand manner.
• The candidate allows the halyard to slip in an uncontrolled manner.

Reasons for failure:

• Skipping rungs would give a taller candidate an advantage over a shorter candidate and is therefore not permitted. It would also allow the candidate to throw the ladder up in the air which is both unsafe and unavailable to the candidate at a fire scene when the base of the ladder is not hinged to the ground.
• Failure to completely raise the ladder demonstrates poor grip and muscular strength.
• A candidate could gain an advantage by walking the halyard backward to compensate for poor upper body strength. This compensation is not available on the fire ground where the ladder is not bolted to the fire structure.
• Failure to control the ladder indicates poor grip strength as well as muscular strength and endurance.

EVENT 5 FORCIBLE ENTRY

EQUIPMENT

This event uses a mechanized device located 39 inches (1m) off the ground that measures cumulative force and a10-pound (4.54-kg) sledgehammer.

PURPOSE OF EVALUATION

This event is designed to simulate the critical tasks of using force to open a locked door or to 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. This event affects the aerobic and anaerobic energy systems as well as the following muscle groups: quadriceps, glutes, triceps, upper back,trapezius, and muscles of the forearm and hand (grip).

EVENT

During this event, the candidate uses a 10-pound (4.54-kg) sledgehammer and strikes the measuring device in the target area until the buzzer signal is activated. The candidate’s feet must remain outside the toe-box. After the buzzer is activated, the candidate places the sledgehammer on the ground. This concludes the event. The candidate walks 85 feet (25.91m) within the established walkway to the next event.

The following practice is allowed:

• The candidate is given one warning for stepping inside the toe-box.

The following practices constitute a failure:

• The candidate fails to maintain control of the hammer while swinging.
• The candidate receives a second infraction for stepping inside the toe-box.

Reason for failure:

• Failure to maintain control of the hammer indicates poor grip strength and muscular endurance and could cause injury to the candidate and proctors.

EVENT 6 SEARCH

EQUIPMENT

This event uses an enclosed search maze that has obstacles and narrowed spaces.

PURPOSE OF EVALUATION

This event is designed to simulate the critical task of searching for a fire victim with limited visibility in an unpredictable area. This event challenges the candidate’s aerobic capacity, upper body muscular strength and endurance, agility, balance, anaerobic endurance, and kinaesthetic awareness. This event affects the aerobic and anaerobic energy systems as well as the following muscle groups: muscles of the chest, shoulder, triceps, quadriceps, abdominals, and lower back.

EVENT

During this event, the candidate crawls on hands and knees through a tunnel maze that is approximately 3 feet (91.44 cm) high, 4 feet (121.92 cm) wide and 64 feet (19.51 m) in length with two 90° turns. At a number of locations in the tunnel, the candidate navigates around, over and under obstacles. In addition, at two locations, the candidate crawls through a narrowed space where the dimensions of the tunnel are reduced. The candidate’s movement is monitored through the maze. If for any reason, the candidate chooses to end the event, the candidate calls out or raps sharply on the wall or ceiling and the candidate is then assisted out. Upon exit from the maze, the event is concluded. The candidate walks 85 feet (25.91 m) within the established walkway to the next event.

The following practices are allowed:

• The candidate can return into the tunnel if they exit through the entrance.

The following practices constitute a failure:

• The candidate requests assistance from the proctor requiring the opening of an escape hatch or the entrance/exit covers.

Reasons for failure:

• Failure to finish the event indicates a lack of confidence in dark or confined spaces.

EVENT 7 RESCUE

EQUIPMENT

This event uses a weighted mannequin equipped with harness with shoulder handles.

PURPOSE OF EVALUATION

This event is designed to simulate the critical task of removing victim or injured partner from a fire scene. This event challenges the candidate’s aerobic capacity, upper and lower body muscular strength and endurance, grip strength and endurance, and anaerobic endurance. This event affects the aerobic and anaerobic energy systems as well as the following muscle groups: quadriceps, hamstrings, lutes, abdominals, torso rotators, lower back stabilizers,trapezius, deltoids, latissimus dorsi, biceps, and muscles of the forearm and hand (grip).

EVENT

During this event, the candidate grasps a 165-pound (74.84-kg) mannequin by the handle(s) on the shoulder(s) of the harness (either one or both handles are permitted), drags it 35 feet (10.67 m) to a pre-positioned drum, makes a 180°turn around the drum, and continues an additional 35 feet(10.67 m) to the finish line. The candidate is not permitted to grasp or rest on the drum. It is permissible for the mannequin to touch the drum. The candidate is permitted to lower the mannequin to the ground to adjust their grip. The entire mannequin must be dragged past the marked finish line. This concludes the event. The candidate walks 85 feet (25.91 m) within the established walkway to the next event.

The following practices are allowed:

• The candidate receives one warning for grabbing or resting on the drum.
• The candidate is permitted to grab either one or both handles when dragging the mannequin
• The candidate is permitted to lower the mannequin to the ground to adjust their grip

The following practices constitute a failure:

• The candidate receives a second infraction for grabbing or resting on the drum.

Reasons for failure:

• Use of the drum by either grasping or resting on it indicates lack of muscular strength and endurance.

EVENT 8 CEILING BREACH AND PULL

EQUIPMENT

This event uses a mechanized device that measures overhead push and pull forces and a pike pole. The pike pole is a commonly used piece of equipment that consists of a 6-foot long pole with a hook and point attached to one end.

PURPOSE OF EVALUATION

This event is designed to simulate the critical task of breaching and pulling down a ceiling to check for fire extension. This event challenges the candidate’s aerobic capacity, upper and lower body muscular strength and endurance, grip strength and endurance, and anaerobic endurance. This event affects the aerobic and anaerobic energy systems as well as the following muscle groups: quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, abdominals, torso rotators, lower back stabilizers, deltoids, trapezius, triceps, biceps, and muscles of the forearm and hand (grip).

EVENT

During this event, the candidate removes the pike pole from the bracket, stands within the boundary established by the equipment frame, and places the tip of the pole on the painted area of the hinged door in the ceiling. The candidate fully pushes up the 60-lb hinged door in the ceiling with the pike pole three times. The candidate then hooks the pike pole to the 80-lb ceiling device and pulls the pole down five times. Each set consists of three pushes and five pulls. The candidate repeats the set four times. The candidate’s permitted to stop and, if needed, adjust the grip. Releasing the grip or slipping from pike pole handle, without the pike pole falling to ground, does not result in a warning or constitute a failure. The candidate may re-establish the grip and resume the event. If the candidate does not successfully complete a repetition (i.e. complete the up and down motion), the proctor calls out “MISS” and the candidate must push or pull the apparatus again to complete the repetition. The event and the total test time ends when the applicant completes the final pull stroke repetition as indicated by the proctor who calls out “TIME”.

The following practices are allowed:

• The candidate receives one warning for dropping the pike pole on the ground.
• The candidate receives one warning for stepping out of bounds.
• The candidate is permitted to stop and to re-establish grip. 

The following practices constitute a failure:

• The candidate receives a second infraction for stepping outside of the boundary marked by the testing apparatus.
• The candidate receives a second infraction for dropping the pike pole.

Reasons for failure:

• Stepping out of bounds creates an advantage that may not be available to the candidate on the fire ground, which would allow the candidate to compensate for poor upper body strength. 

• Failure to maintain control of the pike pole indicates poor grip strength and muscular endurance.

All candidates will be provided with pretest materials to ensure that you have an equal opportunity to compete for the job of firefighter. Such a preparation guide provides all candidates, regardless of their background or experience in exercise principals and techniques, the same opportunity to succeed. The preparation guide includes information on:

  • The physical demands of the Candidate Physical Ability Test (CPAT)
  • The necessity of proper hydration
  • Basic training principles
  • Warm up techniques
  • Flexibility techniques
  • Muscular strength/endurance techniques
  • Cardiovascular endurance techniques
  • Training techniques for those without a gym or specialized equipment

Cost: $198.00 plus HST

Validity:  12 Months

CPAT Candidate Preparation Guide

The job of a firefighter is one of the most physically demanding jobs in North America. It requires high levels of cardiopulmonary endurance, muscular strength and muscular endurance. The Candidate Physical Ability Test consists of eight critical physical tasks that simulate actual job duties on the fireground. This test is physically demanding and requires that you be physically fit to be successful. This guide was developed to assist you with physically preparing yourself for the test.   To download the guide, click on the following link:

IAFF CPAT Candidate Preparation Guide.PDF

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