Firefighter Functional Fitness
“Fitness is 90% mental, 10% execution. The body cannot go where the mind does not believe.” – Captain Jim Moss
“Attitude comes first. We must accept the fact that our fitness is a requirement of the profession.” – Chief Dan Kerrigan
“The future firefighter must have the mindset and attitude that physical fitness is a requirement of their job. It doesn’t matter if you are a volunteer, paid-on-call or career firefighter, you must believe 100% that physical fitness is a fundamental aspect of your job.” – Captain Jim Moss
“Physical training, in general, should focus on "The Big 8" - Core strength, cardiovascular capacity, flexibility, pushing, pulling, lifting, carrying, and dragging.” – Firefighter Functional Fitness
“Being prepared for the rigors of the job, we face so much within this job as firefighters and physical fitness is something that we can actually control. There are several other factors we can't control, so many other things that we face on the job, however physical fitness is one we can control.” – Chief Dan Kerrigan
*Make sure you are cleared by your physician prior to starting an exercise program in preparation for any firefighter ability test.
CANDIDATE PHYSICAL ABILITY TEST (CPAT)
Participants in the CPAT must navigate eight separate events on a closed course within a span of 10 minutes and 20 seconds. Each event simulates a physical skill or function that firefighters experience on the job.
- Stair Climb
- Hose Drag
- Equipment Carry
- Ladder Raise and Extension
- Forcible Entry
- Rescue Drag
- Ceiling Breach and Pull
PREPARING FOR THE CPAT
The IAFF/IAFC standards for the Candidate Physical Ability Test states that each candidate must have the opportunity to attend at least two orientation sessions within eight (8) weeks prior to taking the test. During orientation, candidates will receive instruction on the test and the test events and will have the opportunity to try out the CPAT testing equipment to better understand what will be required. Participation in one or more orientation sessions is strongly encouraged. Candidates who take advantage of orientation consistently have a higher passage rate than those who do not.
In addition to orientation, candidates have the option to sign up for at least two (2) timed practice runs prior to the test itself. Unlike orientation, practice tests are a full-scale simulation of the test. Like orientation, candidates that take at least one practice test consistently pass at a higher rate.
*(Retrieved June 1, 2018, from https://www.fctconline.org/cpat/)
This is a continuously timed, pass/fail test with a passing time of 9 minutes 34 seconds or less. The Biddle and Associates Physical Ability Test includes the following events:
- Dry hose deployment
- Charged hose deployment
- Halyard raise
- Roof walk
- Attic crawl
- Roof ventilation
- Victim removal
- Ladder removal/carry
- Stair climb with hose
- Crawling search
- Hose hoist
**Important**Some locations require you to bring a copy of the Job Announcement stating that the Biddle PAT is a condition of application. Be prepared to provide this information.
*(Retrieved June 1, 2018, from http://www.fireselection.com/fsipat.html)
THE WORK CAPACITY TEST
This program was created with the intent to provide the interagency wildland fire community with a comprehensive, easy-to-follow, fitness program with the ultimate goal of improving firefighter safety and health and reducing injuries. This program provides a basic format for a well-balanced fitness program that can be augmented as local units see fit. Program success will rely on management support at every level as well as an individual's motivation and participation.
*(Retrieved June 1, 2018, from https://www.nifc.gov/FireFit/)
- Firefighters must consistently improve their cardiovascular capacity and muscular endurance.
- Lack of preparation and the future firefighter doesn’t fully understand the rigors of the job.
- More than anything, you must train your legs and your lungs.
- You need to be real and honest with yourself. Do you have the accountability to be able to physically serve your future citizens?
- Lack of preparation for the Candidate Physical Ability Test.
- Not maintaining an exercise program.
- Allowing yourself to become unconditioned, mentally and physically.
- Preparation - keep it simple. Know your enemy and focus your training on the assessment you are preparing to take.
- Prepare for each individual station as part of your normal daily workout.
- Prepare yourself mentally for the Candidate Physical Ability Test.
- Build the correct muscle memory for each station of the Candidate Physical Ability Test.
- Know everything about the Candidate Physical Ability Test.
- Know your own physical/mental strengths and weaknesses before you attempt the Candidate Physical Ability Test.
- Train your lungs and develop your cardiovascular capacity.
- Stop by your local fire station and ask the firefighters for assistance and advice.
- The primary focus should be on cardiovascular capacity and muscular endurance. High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), muscular endurance training, and combining the two will pay great dividends.
Top 10 things to do that increase your odds of getting a job. (Not in any specific order).
- Seek medical clearance before you begin a structured exercise program.
- Conduct a self-assessment to understand your current level of fitness.
- From your own personal health standpoint, know your current baseline before you start training for the Candidate Physical Ability Test.
- Obtain a gym membership.
- Enroll in physical education and or a gym class at your local community college.
- Schedule an initial consultation with a certified personal trainer.
- Prepare for the Candidate Physical Ability Test.
- Attend the Candidate Physical Ability Test orientation and practice sessions.
- Complete the Candidate Physical Ability Test every 6-12 months.
- Maintain a healthy lifestyle.
“Fitness is an integral part of what we do and as an individual, you are responsible for your own level of fitness. Not just passing the CPAT or whatever tests you want to pass. As you move forward in your career, you need to make it a daily, weekly, monthly and yearly part of your career.” – Firefighter Functional Fitness
“Be fit for duty for your fellow firefighters, your fire department and for your family at home.” – Firefighter Functional Fitness
Website: Firefighter Functional Fitness
Dan Kerrigan, EFO, CFO is a 31 year veteran of the fire service, serving in positions from Firefighter through Fire Chief. He is Chief of Fire and Emergency Services at Township of Upper Providence and co-author of the best-selling book Firefighter Functional Fitness. Dan is a certified peer fitness trainer, and he serves as an at-large director on the IAFC-SHS section board of directors. He is a staunch firefighter health and wellness advocate, frequently presenting locally, regionally, and nationally on the topic. Connect with him on Twitter @dankerrigan911 and Facebook.
Jim Moss, is a career fire officer, certified personal trainer, and co-author of Firefighter Functional Fitness. He is a passionate advocate of firefighter fitness and wellness on the local and national levels. He trains, writes, and teaches firefighters how to optimize their physical performance, careers, and lives through Firefighter Functional Fitness. Connect with him on Twitter @jimmoss911and Facebook.