How to Pass CPAT

  1. Can you climb 200 steps with 75 pounds?
  2. Can you drag a 165 pound, dead weight dummy 70 feet?
  3. Can you pull 200 feet of hose?
  4. Can you raise and extend a 25 foot extension ladder?
  5. Can you swing a 10 pound maul with force and accuracy?
  6. Can you carry two 40 pound saws?
  7. Can you crawl through a confined space in the pitch dark?
  8. Can you pull 80 pounds, and push 60 pounds, a total of 32 times?
  9. Can you do all of the above in 10 minutes and 20 seconds? 
  10. Can you do all of the above with a 50 pound vest (stepmill 75 pound)?
If there is a no answer to any one of the above questions, you'll fail CPAT (Candidate Physical Abilities Test), the minimum standard required of a firefighter. The job itself can far exceed the levels of exertion experienced during CPAT. And the legendary New York City Fire Academy is not about to get any easier. Just squeaking by isn't the best plan. As a candidate for firefighter exam 2000, you want to ACE this test- so let's add question #11. (for more on CPAT: click here)

How do you not just pass, but ace CPAT?

First and foremost you need to CONDITION YOURSELF to handle the workload fire operations require. The quality known as General Physical Preparedness (GPP) is what a firefighter must have if he or she dares to take on the responsibility to save lives. This quality is much more than just cardio. When the going gets tough, no quitting. That takes lots of strength, and mega-endurance. Endurance levels many never considered.

When I first entered the fire academy, I was amazed how difficult hose line operation was. Specifically, the enormous back pressure that mandated three strong men to maintain control. At our gym we work think of strength-endurance as one quality - and we work it simultaneously. Using various tools, from explosive 16 minute kettlebell sets, to push up ladders, to endless variations on the step mill.

Next you need to develop ability to generate EXPLOSIVE FORCE. Many people think have a misconception - strength and force are the same thing. Not true. Strength can definitely add to your ability to generate force, but without speed and timing it goes nowhere. You must train your body to move explosively, the way a baseball plays swings a bat, concentrating force. That's how to make forcible entry and structural overhaul easier. Watch a guy who breaks concrete for a living swing a maul. He lets the tool do a lot of the work, but he uses his back, hips and legs to add to the apparent arm swing only motion.

And very importantly, GRIP, HAND, FOREARM STRENGTH are vital. Without a good connection to the tool or hoseline, the effort is lost. There is a lot to overcome here, as fire operations demands a thick, grip-killing glove be worn. Be that as it may, training grip strength is incorporated into much of our training, as well as addressed directly. Kettlebell lifting, particularly, builds a vice-like hands and forearm strength.

So there you have it. Ask yourself the above 11 questions and be honest with the answer. If you taking CPAT, time is of the essence, and the qualities above aren't developed overnight. A committed, long term effort is sometimes required. For some more information, check out some of our programs: FDNY / CPAT PREP.