Physical Fitness Requirements for Firefighters

There is no such thing as a typical day for a firefighter. The firefighting profession is, by its nature, one that is full of risk and unexpected events. For this reason, firefighters must be ready to take on any physical task at the drop of a hat. 

Getting firefighter certification Texas means graduating from a firefighter training program. To be eligible for entry into these programs, candidates must be able to pass the minimum physical requirements of the department as demonstrated by a passing score on their fitness test. 

Getting in Shape

Experts in the field of firefighting recommend focusing on three categories of fitness while getting in shape for firefighter training. These areas are strength, cardiovascular health and endurance and biomechanics. Strength and cardio are fairly self-explanatory. You should be able to run and to climb stairs, and you should be able to carry heavy weights or equipment while doing it. 

However, many candidates overlook the biomechanical part of fitness. This refers to things like flexibility and balance. Firefighters are not only required to do things like carry heavy equipment or even people, they must be able to do so while climbing ladders or stairs or balancing. Good overall strength and the ability to move your body into various positions and spaces is a must.

Understanding the Requirements

Once you are in good general physical shape, you will still need to prepare to meet the specific qualifications set forth by your fire department. The best place to start is to contact the department directly or look online for the requirements for potential candidates. A hefty percentage of fire departments use a standardized set of physical tasks that are known as the CPAT, or Candidate Physical Ability Test. The test is made up of exercises that test general fitness and the ability to adapt that to job-specific tasks. For example, one portion of the CPAT requires candidates to traverse stairs, or a ladder, while carrying a bulky firehose. 

Practicing for the Physical Aptitude Test

While working out on your own is great for improving your physical fitness prior to the exam, you will need to actually get experience in the firefighter-specific physical tasks. Fire departments offer various types of orientations and practice days for potential candidates to watch firefighters perform the tasks on the CPAT and try them out on their own. Some of these practice days are more casual, allowing candidates to try out the different exercises on their own while others offer timed runs.