Firefighting requires above average aerobic and anaerobic capacity, muscular endurance and strength, and flexibility. The Candidate Physical Ability Test (CPAT) is a standardized physical ability test adopted by New Bern Fire-Rescue. The test is designed to identify individuals who have the physical attributes to perform the job of a firefighter.
The CPAT consists of eight separate events: stair climb, hose drag, equipment carry, ladder raise and extension, forcible entry, search, rescue, and ceiling breaching. This test is a sequence of events that requires the candidate to progress along a predetermined path from event to event in a continuous manner. This is a pass/fail test based on a validated maximum total time of 10 minutes 20 seconds.
In these events, the candidate wears a 50 pound (22.68 kg) vest to simulate the weight of self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) and firefighter protective clothing. An additional 25 pound high-rise pack (hose bundle) is added for the stair climb event.
Throughout all eight events, the candidate must wear long pants, a helmet with a chin strap, work gloves, and footwear with no open heel or toes. Watches and loose or restrictive jewelry are not permitted.
The events are placed in a sequence that best simulates their use at a fire scene while allowing an 85 foot (25.91 m) walk between events. To ensure the highest level of safety and to prevent the candidate from becoming exhausted, no running is allowed between events. The walk allows the candidate approximately 20 seconds to recover and regroup before each event.
Two stopwatches are used to time the CPAT. One stopwatch is designated as the official test time stopwatch; the second is the backup stopwatch. If mechanical failure occurs, the time on the backup stopwatch is used. The stopwatches are set to the pass/fail time and count down from 10 minutes 20 seconds. If time elapses prior to the completion of the test, the test is concluded and the candidate fails the test.