21 April 2020
Chief Brent Collins, President,


Many examinations across the country use the Candidate Physical Ability Test (CPAT) which consists of 8 separate events. The CPAT is a sequence of events requiring you to progress along a predetermined path from event to event in a continuous manner. This is a pass/fail test based on a maximum total time of 10 minutes and 20 seconds, although the time can differ from state to state.

In these events, you wear a 50-pound vest to simulate the weight of self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) and firefighter protective clothing.  An additional 25 pounds, using two 12.5-pound weights that simulate a high-rise pack (hose bundle), is added to your shoulders for the stair climb event.

The events are placed in a sequence that best simulates fire scene events while allowing an 85-foot walk between events.  This walk allows you approximately 20 seconds to recover and regroup before each event.  If you run between events you will receive one warning.  A second infraction constitutes a disqualification, the test time is concluded and you fail the test.

The events are:

  • Stair climb
  • Hose drag
  • Equipment carry
  • Ladder raise and extension
  • Forcible entry
  • Search
  • Rescue
  • Ceiling breach and pull

In preparing fire applicants for physical agility exams for years, one of the most important aspects is good overall strength with an emphasis on leg strength and, most importantly, your wind endurance (lung strength and capacity). 

Time and time again, we see individuals 6’4”, 250 pounds, can squat 350 lbs 10 times, run 2 miles and think they are in good physical shape.  However, they have not built up their wind endurance and lung capacity and may have the strength of someone who is 100 lbs.  Nothing drains your strength more than a lack of wind and lung strength.

Some applicants believe that if you run 3 or 4 miles, you will be in good shape.  While it will help you, you need that short burst of strength that comes from doing wind sprints.  Wind sprints are an excellent way of increasing your endurance.  Start off by sprinting 30 yards, 3 or 4 times.  Then proceed to 40 yards, 50 yards. After a period of training and feeling that burn in your lungs which is a sign that your wind and endurance are developing, we suggest that you undertake the following physical agility training. 

Mark off 20 yards, 30 yards, 40 yards, and 50 yards. Use a nearby recreation field in your area or even a parking lot.  Start your sprints by sprinting 20 yards and then sprint back to the start.  Then immediately sprint 30 yards and back to start.  Then sprint 40 yards and back to start.  Sprint 50 yards and back to start.  As you continue training, you will see that your wind endurance is building.  You may be able to complete 5-6 of these wind sprints in a single training session and not feel winded. 

Applicants also need to concentrate on overall strength training – your chest, triceps, biceps, back, legs, sit-ups. 

As you can see, physical agility testing events are very strenuous in nature.  You must begin your workouts immediately in order to put yourself in top condition to perform well and progress in the next step in the hiring process.

Go to the link below to review our CPAT Physical Agility Test and Workout Strategies: