Understanding The CPAT

Things to be Kept in Mind While Taking CPAT

There are several aspects of the CPAT that the candidates must learn about before applying for the same. Moreover, there are certain considerations that they must keep in mind while they are attempting the exam. These important aspects and considerations about the Candidate for Physical Ability Test (CPAT) are explained clearly in this article in the form of frequently asked questions (FAQs) and their respective answers.

What is the Main Purpose of the CPAT?

The main purpose of the examination is to appraise the physical fitness of the entry-level firefighting candidates and ascertain whether or not they have the right amount of physical agility, strength, sustainability and endurance to perform highly work-intensive tasks that are typically performed in an emergency situation. The exam gives the fire departments a yardstick to measure the ability of their candidates and pick only those who are 100% suitable for the job.

How is the CPAT Structured?

The test is broken down into 8 main tasks that must be performed in a pre-determined sequence. Each task measures different types and levels of physical fitness in a candidate. These 8 tasks are Stair Climb, Hose Drag, Equipment Lift, Ladder Raise & Extension, Forcible Entry, Search, Rescue Drag and Ceiling Breach. Every task in this exam (as implied by their names) simulates a crucial operation that is regularly performed at the scene of a fire accident. For elaborate descriptions of each task, its associated rules and requirements, you may either visit the website of the fire department that you are applying to or you may visit the IAFF website (www.iaff.org/hs/CPAT/cpat_index.html), where you would also find illustrations and brief descriptions. In some fire departments, the physical test may be followed or preceded by a written test and most certainly will be followed by a personal interview to determine the mental attitude of the candidates.

What is the Pass/Fail Criterion for the CPAT?

This is a pass/fail exam with certain clear passing requirements. The key passing requirement of this exam is that the candidates must finish all the 8 tasks in this test within 10 minutes and 20 seconds. Secondly, there are several failure points in each task that the candidates must avoid or successfully cross in order to pass the test. For example, in the stair-climbing event, a candidate must not dismount or fall out of the climber even once during the timed period of the task. Doing so is considered an immediate failure and the candidate will not be allowed to take the rest of the exam. In the same event, the candidate is warned if he dismounts or falls from the climber during the warm-up period of the task. Anyone who receives more than 2 such warnings, fails and cannot continue to the rest of the tasks in the test. For a complete list of failure points and warnings for each task in this exam, you may visit your fire department's website or review its test manual.

What are the Important Things to Keep in Mind While Taking the CPAT?

The following are the key considerations to keep in mind, while taking the test:

  • You must be dressed in long pants and footwear without an open heel or toe for the exam, along with a hard hat, work gloves and chin strap that will be provided at the test center. You are not allowed to wear any watches or jewelry during the exam.

  • You are recommended to avoid running in between the events of the exam because this will cause exhaustion. Instead, you may walk to the next event at a pace that is based on the time left behind.

  • While lifting weights, you must lift them steadily and in a controlled manner to avoid any injury.

  • During the test, you must be alert and pay heed to the warning signals or calls from your examiner.

  • Last but not the least, do not panic and stay confident!

Thus far, we have discussed the chief features of the examination, along with a list of the important considerations to bear in mind during the exam. Careful planning and training for this exam will guarantee your success, so be sure to devise and follow an effective training and prep plan!

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