Hauling equipment, raising ladders, and swinging a hammer are all necessary tasks for a firefighter/paramedic.
And nothing tests those skills like the Candidate Physical Ability Test, or CPAT.
“Before we did a basic [test of] how many pushups you can do in a minute, sit-ups, mile time… all that stuff,” said Naperville Fire Department CPAT Coordinator Anthony White. “But we bought all the CPAT equipment about two years ago, implemented it about two years ago, so we figured why not? We have the tools, the ability to do it, we might as well just start.”
The exam is designed to simulate real obstacles firefighters would encounter in emergency situations.
The candidates have 10 minutes and 20 seconds to complete the course, starting with the dreaded weighted stair climb.
“The hardest part is when you get through the stair climb,” said Justas Riabkov, a recruit for the fire department. “The stairs wear out a lot of guys. If you train for the stairs outside the CPAT that’s probably the most tiring objective. If you feel good after the stairs you’ll make your way through.”
These recruits were evaluated by the Naperville Fire Department for the first time. After eight weeks of training, they’ll return to the course to see if they can beat their times.
But it isn’t just for local recruits. Because Naperville is one of just five sites in the state licensed to administer the CPAT exam, they also open the course up to recruits for other departments looking to earn their CPAT certification.
“Everybody that tests for a fire department job has to have a CPAT card. So we have a lot of people from all over the state,” said White. “We’ve had people from North Carolina, Texas, the surrounding states, Iowa, Indiana, just to get their CPAT test so they can start testing for fire departments in the state of Illinois.”
The Naperville Fire Department is also looking to expand its CPAT program to include current firefighters as well. That way, each of the 200 employees will know where they need to improve physically to do their jobs effectively.
And while the CPAT is a good test for firefighters, a lot more goes into the job than just the capacity to run the course.
“This is just a little glimpse of the ability that it takes to fight a fire or be on the fire scene so this is a good place to start to know your physical ability,” said Riabkov.
Naperville News 17’s Casey Krajewski reports.
LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
Get daily hometown news and sports delivered to your inbox!Sign Up Today!