Locations for Taking the CPAT

Where to Take the CPAT?

All firefighter test candidates who are applying to the CPAT admission exam must know about the available test centers, so that they can make an informed selection of a suitable test location. This article provides important information regarding the test locations, along with key guidelines on where to take the CPAT test.

What Types of Test Locations are Available to the Candidates?

  • Internal Test Locations:These are locations that are fully-owned and operated by the IAFF/IAFC. According to information available on the IAFF website, there are about 30 such centers that are operative in the United States today.
  • Fully-Licensed Test Facilities:These are fire departments to which the IAFF issues full CPAT licenses. Full licenses are issued to only those fire departments that agree to implement the entire CPAT program which includes  mentoring, training and orientation, physical testing, complete administration of the test with the specified test equipment, parameters, under the guidance of qualified test supervisors and fire personnel. Currently, there are about 1000+ fully licensed test locations in the U.S., which are conducting the exam. IAFF/IAFC communicates any changes to the CPAT program and requirements periodically to these centers. Some examples of fully licensed locations include the Northeastern Illinois Public Safety Training Academy, Southwest United Fire Districts etc.
  • Limited-License Test Facilities:IAFF/IAFC issues limited licenses to third-party test locations such as government (federal or state) agencies or commissions, private testing-services organizations, training academies and colleges that administer various employment admissions tests. These test locations must receive a written authorization from fire departments that would like to use their services. Also, such test centers generally provide only the exam while the other services of the program (such as training, recruitment etc.) are provided either by the fire departments themselves or under their supervision. The fire departments that outsource testing to such third-party centers must themselves hold a full-time license. There are around 30 such limited-license test locations in the United States currently. Some examples of fully-licensed locations include the National Testing Network (Florida), Mississippi State Fire Academy etc.

Which Test Location Should You Pick?

While picking a test location, you must keep in mind the following possibilities:

  • If you have decided to apply to a particular fire department, then check with them if they offer the test at their own premises.
    • If yes, follow their directions to apply and register for it.
    • If the answer is no, then you must find out from their administration to which other fire departments or third-party agencies they outsource their testing. Then, you must get in touch with these test locations to ascertain and complete the registration formalities.
  • If you have already taken the test at a particular location, but for some reason you are looking for employment with a different fire department, then you must check with your new employer if you have to re-take the test or if they will accept the earlier result (as long as it is valid). However, this may not be possible when you are applying across states.
  • If you have any constraints regarding the test locations or time, you must check with the fire department that you are applying to on whether or not you could take the test at the test location of your choice (i.e. whether they will be willing to accept the testing results from an outside department or agency).

Selecting a test location depends on determining all these above-mentioned factors ahead of time. The complete list of such locations is available at www.iaff.org/HS/Well/statelist.htm. You could also check on the internet for state-wise listings of these locations.

Thus far, we have discussed vital information regarding the test locations, along with recommendations on how to select a test location that is convenient to you. It is better to figure all this out and decide on your test location, before you start preparing for the exam. The reason for this is that the approach to CPAT and subsequent on-the-job training and mentoring may vary to some degree between fire departments. Hence, knowing your test location before-hand will play a crucial role in your exam training and prep.