The Test Format for CPAT

All about the CPAT

The Candidate Physical Ability Test, or the CPAT, is a standardized physical test set by the certain states for new firefighters and involves the assessment of the candidates’ physical capabilities as required by professional firemen. The testing pattern was developed by the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) and the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) and includes numerous physical activities.

About the Exam:

The test includes eight continuous events on a predetermined path which are assessed by professionals. The overall time duration for this test is 10 minutes and 20 seconds. The results are declared as pass or fail to the candidates on the completion of the test.

This testing pattern is designed to recruit candidates who are physically fit and are capable to withstand tense situations and yet display quick thinking for problem solving. Candidates can get more information about the test from the Orientation Guide at However, it should be known that once a candidate is CPAT certified, he or she is required to undergo a written and oral firefighter test in order to be certified by the State Department as a firefighter.

The Testing Pattern:

The testing pattern also involves candidates to be geared up in the required uniforms and utilize all the tools available at the fire department. The details of the eight test events are mentioned below:

  1. Stair Climbing: This event involves a climbing machine with which candidates are tested for their ability to climb while wearing the entire uniform and firefighting gear. During the 20 seconds warm-up sessions, candidates are given a maximum of three warnings, post which they are disqualified. It should also be known that candidates have to restart their warm-up session after every default. According to the testing method, candidates have to climb at the rate of 50 steps per minute.

  2. Hose Drag: Candidates are required to drag an uncharged hose with the hose line nozzle from the fire apparatus and reach the affected area within the given time-frame along with avoiding obstacles. The testing pattern mentions only one warning in case the task is not completed post which a candidate is declared as failed on further default.

  3. Equipment Carry: This event is designed to assess the candidates for their capability to carry power tools from the fire apparatus in the required amount of time. During this event, no extra chances are given and failure to pick tools or dropping tools on site is not accepted and such candidates are disqualified on the spot.

  4. Ladder Raise and Extension: In this part of the test, the candidates are required to climb a 24 feet ladder against a wall within the given time-frame and only one warning is given in case the candidate fails to climb a rung.

  5. Forcible Entry: This event includes the use of machinery in order to facilitate forcible entry in case of a fire lock down. Candidates have to use a sledge hammer for which the force would be measured. Upon successful entry, candidates are required to move on to the next event. Again one chance to default is permitted in this event.

  6. Search: This is a critical event designed to assess the candidates’ approach to search for survivors. Moreover, there is no chance for default given to candidates for this event. During this test, if candidates request for help or any kind of assistance, they are disqualified immediately.

  7. Rescue: In this event, candidates are required to carry a mannequin of approximately 75kgs to the finish line. Only one warning would be given in case any candidate pauses in the entire run to the finish line.

  8. Ceiling Breach and Pull: In this task, there is a 6-foot long pike pole given to candidates where they have to test the ceiling and break it to identify and extinguish any fire extensions. Alongside, only one warning is given to a candidate in case he or she misses this task.

There are certain training guides that are available online. For example, one of the Candidate Preparation Guides for CPAT can be availed at

Firefighting is a profession involving high risk and thus few candidates with suitable physical qualities and desired potential are chosen. Hence, candidates are required to train themselves daily and be physically fit utilizing all possible resources in order to ace the testing process.

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