Important Characteristics Of The CPAT

Become a Firefighter in 3 Steps

The CPAT (Candidate Physical Ability Test) is a physical admission test for the firefighting candidates in the U.S. It was developed by the joint efforts of 2 international organizations – International Association of Firefighters (IAFF) and International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC). The main purpose of the test is to assess the physical strength and endurance of the firefighter candidates in performing the basic tasks that are typically required in any fire rescue situation. This article gives you a 3-step guide on how to become a successful firefighter, which includes details regarding the test design, training material and registration etc.

A 3-Step Guide to Becoming a Successful Firefighter:

Step 1: Learn Everything about the CPAT Design:

The firefighter test is a series of sub-tests which must be completed in a step-by-step manner. Throughout the test, the candidates must wear a 50-pound vest and to pass the test, they must complete all the 8 tasks within 10 minutes and 20 seconds without any glitches. The 8 sequential sub-tests are described as follows:

  • Stair Climbing - The candidates are required to walk on a stair-climbing machine, while wearing an additional 25-pound weight. There is an initial warm-up period followed by a timed test in this event. The candidates must balance themselves during this task and must not dismount or fall more than twice during the warm-up period and more than once during the timed test.

  • Hose Dragging - The candidates are required to pull the nozzle of a 200-feet hose pipe to a total distance of 100-feet, while making a 90-degree turn around a drum. Then, they are required to drag the hose pipe further until its 50-feet marking. Those who fail to move around the drum or kneel within the marked position more than twice will fail the test.

  • Equipment Carrying - In this test event, the candidates are required to carry 2 saws, one in each hand from a cabinet, walk 75- feet and return the saws to the same cabinet. Those who drop even one saw or run during the test will fail.

  • Ladder Raising - This includes raising a 24-foot ladder across the wall, extending another positioned ladder to its stop limit and then, lowering it back to its original position. If the ladders fall down or if the candidates lose control, miss a rung or slip a rope, they will fail.

  • Entry With Force - The candidates must hit a measuring device with a 10-pound hammer, while standing within a marked box. They must apply a certain amount of force, after which a buzzer will sound. Those who drop the hammer or step out of the marked box more than twice will fail the test.

  • Search Operation - The candidates must find their way through a narrow and dark tunnel that has several obstacles and two 90-degree turns. Those who indicate their inability to complete the crawl will be helped out, but will be subsequently disqualified.

  • Rescue Operation - This test includes dragging a 165-pound mannequin for a distance of 70-feet around a drum. Those who are unable to drag the mannequin or those who rest on the drum more than twice will fail.

  • Ceiling Breach - The candidates must pull a pike-pole attached to a weighted ceiling door and then, push a weighted ceiling device for a specified number of times. In order to pass the exam, this event must be completed without dropping the pike pole or stepping out of the marked area.

Step 2: Train and Get Fit:

You may devise a personnel training-regimen based on the qualified fitness guides available on the official website ( or attend a physical training course. Training sessions and courses are available from private fitness trainers or at the fire department that you are applying to. You must train daily for all the events in the test, keep fit and monitor your progress.

Step 3: Register and Take the CPAT:

After the training is complete, you may register for the test at licensed locations in your state and take it at the earliest. The complete list of licensed agencies is available at this link The candidates must be 18 years of age to apply for the test. The registration deadlines of the testing locations must be followed. Moreover, some testing centers allow online registration, while others require the candidates to register in person and attend certain orientation sessions prior to the test. Hence, these details must be confirmed in advance.

Thus far, we have laid out a 3-step guide on how to become a certified firefighting professional. We hope this article has been an eye-opener to aspiring firefighters like you and helped you get a grasp of this test and its expectations.