Firefighter Fitness & Health Promotion


Firefighter testing usually has four stages:
A written exam.
A physical test.
A psychological test.
An interview.

Thousands of candidates compete for relatively few positions. Candidates are placed in a rank in a list and wait until it is their turn for the final selection process. Often firefighter candidates will go through the testing process for several cities or consortiums made up of groups of cities that share testing resources. After a candidate is selected and agrees to work for a particular fire department, that candidate becomes a probationary firefighter, usually for a period of one year. The probationary firefighter may have to meet and pass certifications within a certain period to keep the job as firefighter.

Candidate Physical Ability Test (CPAT)
The Candidate Physical Ability Test (CPAT) is a new minimum requirement for the position of Firefighter in many cities. The job of a fire fighter is one of the most physically demanding jobs in North America and requires high levels of cardiopulmonary endurance, muscular strength and muscular endurance. The Candidate Physical Ability Test consists of eight critical physical pass/fail tasks that simulate actual job duties on the fire ground. During the performance of the CPAT, applicants progress along a predetermined path from one event to the next in a continuous manner. Participants wear a 50-pound (22.68-kg) vest to simulate the weight of self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) and firefighter protective clothing. An additional 25 pounds (11.34 kg), using two 12.5-pound (5.67-kg) weights that simulate a high-rise pack (hose bundle), are added to your shoulders for the stair climb event. You have 10 minutes and 20 seconds to complete all eight tasks. The tasks are the following:

Stair Climb
Hose Drag
Equipment Carry
Ladder Raise & Extension
Forcible Entry
Ceiling Breach & Pull

Candidate Physical Ability Test (CPAT).

Some cities outsource the CPAT test to another agency or it is the responsibility of the applicant to take the CPAT test from an independent third party testing agency. The Los Angeles Fire Department as an online guide CPAT Test Preparation Guide (1.4 MB CPAT.pdf) that may be helpful. You can also look for the latest edition directly from LAFD at

NFPA 1001, Standard for Fire Fighter Professional Qualifications.
The NFPA 1001 standard identifies the minimum job performance requirements for career and volunteer fire fighters whose duties are primarily structural in nature.

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NFPA 1582: Standard on Comprehensive Occupational Medical Program for Fire Departments.

NFPA 1582 standard is written by fire department physicians for fire department physicians, NFPA 1582 contains descriptive requirements for a comprehensive occupational medical program to ensure that fire department members are medically capable of performing their required duties. The standard is designed to help reduce the risk of occupational injuries and illnesses. Therefore firefighter fitness testing does not end with the Candidate Physical Ability Test.

The standard provides medical requirements for candidates and occupational medical and fitness evaluations for incumbent fire fighters. Requirements are equated against the essential job tasks as outlined in NFPA 1001 and apply to career, volunteer, private, industrial, governmental, and military fire departments.

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World Championship 2005 in Deerfield Beach, Florida shows each event of the Firefighter Combat Challenge.

The concept of the Firefighter Combat Challenge resulted after a Maryland Fire Chief, David Gratz, approached physicians and researchers at the Human Performance Laboratory at the Sports Medicine Center of the University of Maryland in July, 1974 to develop a validated physical ability test to determine if a firefighter job applicant had the capabilities to perform as a firefighter. In 1976 physicians at the lab demonstrated that favorable laboratory fitness measures are directly correlated with favorable performance of five common and highly critical fireground tasks.

In 1991 with the leadership of Dr. Paul O. Davis, Ph.D. from the University of Maryland, College of Human Perforance, the five fireground tasks were turned into five competitive events (High Rise Pack Carry, Hose Hoist, Forcible Entry, Hose Advance, and Victim Rescue) for competition and the Firefighter Combat Challenge was born.

Fire Departments from across the country voluntarily send existing firefighters to enter the competition, which is historically based on a test designed to select new firefighters.

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Firefighter Wellness & Health Promotion
Firefighters face alarms that cause psychological stress, cardiovascular stress and musculo-skeletal stress. While the Firefighter Combat Challenge is effectively symbolic of the importance of fitness for performance, health and safety of firefighters, there is much more to the safety and health of firefighters than the ability to aptly perform five fireground tasks.

Many fire departments have implemented periodic medical and stress tests to assure that firefighters meet and hopefully exceed minimum standards of fitness. The oxygen consumption test or exercise tolerance test with an EKG is one of the most important standards of periodic medical testing and failure to meet a minimum level of exertion is given equal importance alongside discovery of certain medical symptoms, signs and diagnoses (e.g., the discovery of a history of myocardial infarction, chest pain and other diagnoses). In other words, Maximal Exercise Tolerance of less than 42 ml Oxygen/min/kg; or less than 12 metabolic equivalents (METS) is considered a clinical condition referable to coronary artery disease and can result in a firefighter being suspended from active duty. Oxygen consumption is recorded in milliliters per minute of oxygen used per kilogram of body weight and 1 MET = 3.5 ml O2/kg/min, which is considered a resting level of exertion.

In the United States, coronary artery disease (atherosclerosis) is the most common risk factor for cardiac arrest and sudden cardiac death. Risk factors for coronary artery disease development include age over 45, male gender, family history of coronary artery disease, smoking, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, obesity, physical inactivity, and diabetes.

Firefighting activities are strenuous and often require firefighters to work at near maximal heart rates for long periods. The increase in heart rate has been shown to begin with the response to the initial alarm and persist through the course of fire suppression activities. The stressful nature of firefighting tasks is the reason for the priority given to physical inactivity as a risk factor for coronary artery disease in firefighting.
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Firefighter Fitness

Firefighter Safety

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Firefighter Exam Midwest Firefighter Exam 3rd firefighter Written Exam

firefighters Handbook Essentials of Firefighting Essentials of Firefighting Study Guide

Principles of Fire Behavior Enclosure Fire Dynamics Fire Prevention

Strategic and Tactical Considerations on the Fireground Strategic and Tactical Considerations on the Fireground Study Guide Paramedic Emergency Care

Paramedic Emergency Care Exam Review Prehospital Emergency Pharmacology



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