It goes without saying that the firefighting career field is exceptionally competitive.
Fire departments pick the best of the best. Sometimes, the Academy certifications such as Firefighter I and II holders will not even be eligible for employment.
But what about the volunteer fire department?
Well, the story is typically the same for the volunteer firefighters.
Just like a professional certification, the candidates must pass the volunteer firefighter physical requirements.
What requirements are we actually talking about?
You need to continue reading if you want to know all about it!
Volunteer Firefighter Physical Requirements
Just like the name suggests, a volunteer firefighter would not fall into the criteria of a paid firefighter. Most firefighters that are volunteering are offering community service.
They are more inclined to public safety instead of getting paid. However, some do receive annual bonuses or small stipends.
But that does not mean that they do not have to go through the firefighter interview process. In fact, many firefighters even pursue a degree in fire science just to pass through this interview process, whether volunteering or paid. And the panel’s hiring decision is always strict for a junior firefighter.
That said, a firefighter requires passing all the critical tasks during the tests. It includes the physical agility test and the requirement to perform essential job tasks flawlessly.
That includes the Candidate Physical Ability Test (CPAT) that simulates fire scene events.
It would put you through the challenges you need to pass when there is an actual fire. Now, passing the physical ability test would mean that you are fit for the fire department.
It also means you have an above-average endurance, grip strength, core strength, aerobic capacity, and proper balance.
Additionally, the department’s academy board would understand you have the basic Fire and EMS background knowledge. And that can go a long way in terms of making you achieve a spot in volunteering fire service.
At this point, those might seem like a lot, but you must understand that a firefighter needs to go through pretty challenging fire scenes. And for getting through an emergency scene, it is all about physical capability and quick thinking.
The most crucial thing about a firefighter job is the CPAT test. It is a part of the physical fitness test and will evaluate how capable your body is.
In a general sense, it consists of eight separate events. Each test event will make you go through a critical task, which would replicate a fire emergency.
What about timing?
You will get 10 minutes and 20 seconds to complete all CPAT events. And there will be two stopwatches monitoring your timing. The second one will be there in case any mechanical failure occurs on the first one.
However, the actual timing for the events is 10 minutes. Twenty seconds is the warm-up time.
Nonetheless, you should note that you can not wear any loose or restrictive jewelry during the test. So, you should not go to the test center while wearing those. But, what exactly are the events? Let’s take a deeper look, shall we?
- The name of the event says it all. And even though it might sound easy, it’s not.
- Basically, the stair climb event will prepare you for climbing stairs in a fire scene.
- And the ability to maintain control and balance is pretty crucial for this event.
- Generally, a fire department would make you climb a machine called StepMil. During the warm-up period, the speed will be 50 steps per minute. However, during the actual test period, it will be 60.
- You will be carrying a 50-pound vest, which will mimic self-contained breathing apparatus.
Also, there will be an extra 25 pounds on your shoulders.
Your upper body muscular strength will be your best friend for these weights.
- Besides the equipment and fire truck, the first thing that would come to any firefighter’s mind is the fire hose. And this test will evaluate whether you can adequately drag the hose to the fire structure from the fire apparatus or not.
- You will be within a marked boundary line during the test. And you must remain stationary.
- It will be possible to drop one knee to gain more balance, but the knee should touch the ground at all times.
- The equipment carry event measures lower body muscular endurance along with upper body strength.
- You basically need to carry two tools and reach the finish line from the starting position.
- To prevent exhaustion, the event would limit you to walking.
- But you can walk as fast as you want to.
Ladder Raise and Extension
- This event will make you use a 24 feet extension ladder.
- The ladder needs to be placed within the marked box, and you will need to extend it accordingly.
- But that is just the first part of the test.
- The second part would make you extend the ladder to the top.
Also, the proctors will check whether you are correctly extending the fly section or not.
- The forcible entry simulates the event of breaking a door or a wall to create an access point.
- You will use a hammer for the test, and you will be asked to hit a device.
- This device measures cumulative force and will evaluate whether you have enough strength to break through a wall or a door.
Again, the name says most about the event. Nonetheless, the event will make you go through a burning building.
- The area will be filled with smoke, and you will have minimal visibility.
- That said, the event’s primary goal is to make you find a fire victim as soon as possible.
- Whatever you do, do not panic when you are in a smoke-filled building. It will cause you to fail.
- As the name suggests, you will need to drag a dummy for this event.
- The dummy will be 165 pounds in weight, and you need to drag it 35 feet around the barrel.
- And this event will also require you to make a 180 degree turn at one point.
Ceiling Breach and Pull
- This event will utilize a mechanical device.
- That device measures overhead push and evaluates whether you have the strength to breach through a ceiling or not.
- Also, after you make an access point, you will need to check for fire extension.
- There might be non-fire-related obstacles on the way too.
- The event and the whole test will come to an end after the final pull stroke repetition.
And once you complete that, the proctor will shout “TIME,” and your entire performance will be evaluated.
What Other Things Will You Need to Become a Volunteer Firefighter?
Aside from passing the CPAT and other tests, you should have a valid driver’s license, mental and emotional stability, and a high school diploma.
An EMT certification would be great too. It will make you stand out among the other candidates.
In a nutshell, the volunteer firefighter’s physical requirements are the same as the regular firefighter.
You will need to go through the same tests to prove that you are capable of the position. So, it would be best if you prepare for the CPAT test early on.