Nature And Importance Of The CPAT

How the CPAT Assists in Becoming a Firefighter

The Candidate Physical Ability Test (CPAT) is a standardized physical ability exam conducted by the Fire Department of certain states in order to ensure that candidates applying for the post of firefighters possess the physical skills required in this field. Unlike other entrance exams, this test is performance based and includes certain time-bound tasks which have to be completed with least or no errors at all.

About the CPAT Exam:

The examination was jointly developed by the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) and the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC). Since firefighting is a challenging profession which deals in dangerous and risky situations, candidates need to develop the physical skills which would enable them to carry out the day to day responsibilities of a firefighter.

Hence, the test is designed to shortlist potential candidates who are able to complete the tasks or events in the given time-frame. It should be known that this test consists of eight events which have to be completed in the time-frame of 10 minutes and 20 seconds. In order to understand the requirement in detail, let us look at the information mentioned below:

The CPAT Test Events:

During the physical event, all candidates are required to be present wearing the entire uniform and firefighting gear. Alongside, they would have to demonstrate their capabilities in extreme situations given during the test events. The details of the eight test events are mentioned below:

  1. Stair Climbing: In this event, candidates have to climb at the rate of 50 steps per minute on a climbing machine where in they are tested for their ability to quickly climb heights. There is a 20 seconds warm-up session for this event and candidates are given a maximum of three warnings post which they are disqualified.

  2. Hose Drag: While performing this event, all candidates are required to drag an uncharged hose with the hose line nozzle from the fire apparatus and overcome obstacles in order to reach the affected area with the given time-frame. They are given only one warning during this event.

  3. Equipment Carry: Candidates are required to carry power tools from the fire apparatus in the required amount of time without dropping them on site. It should be known that no warnings are given during this event.

  4. Ladder Raise and Extension: According to the test pattern, candidates in this event are required to climb a 24 feet ladder against a wall without skipping any rungs. There is only one warning given during this event.

  5. Forcible Entry: In case of a fire lock down, heavy machinery is used for forcible entry. In this event, candidates have to use a sledge hammer and the force applied by them is mapped during this event.

  6. Search: Candidates are required to search for survivors in this event; and they are disqualified if any request for help is made during this task. No warnings are given during this event.

  7. Rescue: Candidates have to carry a mannequin of approximately 75kgs to the finish line after their search is completed. For this event, only one warning is given to candidates in case of they stop before the finish line.

  8. Ceiling Breach and Pull: In order to identify and extinguish any fire extensions, there is a 6-foot long pike pole given to candidates where they have to test the ceiling and break it. For this event, only one warning is given.

Candidates can avail a free copy of the preparation guide for this test from and understand more about the different events.

Passing Criteria for the CPAT:

It should be known that all the eight events are continuous and there is no break given during this test. The passing criteria for the test are as follows:

  • Completion of all the eight events successfully within 10 minutes and 20 seconds.
  • Successful completion of tasks without exceeding permitted number of defaults.

The events section is the initial exam that candidates need to qualify in order to become professional firefighters. After clearing the events step, candidates are required to undertake a written exam, after which they have to clear an oral interview with the Fire Chief of the State Department.

Hence, it is very important for aspiring candidates to be trained for physical endurance through a good exercise regime and clear the test in order to progress in their journey to become certified firefighters.

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