A firefighter has a physically demanding job. He must be able to carry heavy weights, such as hoses or fire victims, up and down stairs and ladders, as well as chop through doors if necessary to enter buildings and be prepared to fight fires for hours at a time when necessary. Becoming a firefighter means you must pass rigorous fitness requirements. These requirements vary slightly between fire departments, but the basics typically remain the same nationwide. The candidates typically wear a 50-pound weighted vest or full firefighting gear during the timed tests.
Dealing With Hoses
Fire hoses usually weigh between 60 and 80 pounds, and firefighters must carry these to where they'll best fight the fires. To qualify as a firefighter, you must pass fitness requirements when carrying a hose. This includes carrying rolled hoses up stairs and ladders or advancing hose lines around obstacles by dragging one around cones in a confined space.
Ladders are heavy and unwieldy, but firefighters must be able to move and secure them quickly and with confidence. As part of your fitness test, expect to show how to carry the ladders, secure them against buildings and extend them to the necessary heights. You also must retrieve the ladder and return it, hanging it on the proper hooks. These ladders typically weigh between 45 and 265 pounds.
When you're inside an unfamiliar building, it's easy to become disoriented, especially when crouching or carrying a fire victim. As part of your fitness requirement, you must execute several tasks including forcibly entering a building through a locked door or wall, crawl around cones to simulate dodging obstacles in confined spaces as you stay under the smoke layer, and dragging a full-size dummy weighing 125 pounds or more to safety. In some cases, you must use a ceiling pull, also called a ceiling pike, that weighs about 60 pounds to break through a metal ceiling to check for hidden fires.
Fast climbing skills are key to a firefighter's ability to safely enter and exit burning buildings. As part of your fitness requirements, you must climb stairs, often five to seven flights, carrying additional gear, then retreat back down the stairs. Some departments require you to climb fire escapes as well. In some cases, the tests might include multiple sets of ascending and descending stairs to measure your endurance.
- International Association of Fire Chiefs: Candidate Physical Ability Test (CPAT)
- Louisville Metro Civil Service: Physical Fitness Preparation Guidelines and Physical Ability Test Overview for Fire Fighter Applicants
- Commonwealth of Massachusetts: Firefighter Physical Ability Test (PAT) Events
- Fire Career Assistance: Firefighter Physical Fitness Test