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FDNY Physical Demands and Fitness Standards

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The physical demands of firefighting are very difficult, and require an extremely high level of physical fitness. Candidates, recruits and active firefighters must possess high levels of cardiovascular fitness, muscular strength, muscular endurance, flexibility, and low levels of body fat. Candidates must begin their training program early enough, to allow adequate time to properly prepare for the entry level Candidate Physical Ability Test, (CPAT) and fire academy training.

Candidate Physical Ability Test-CPAT

The first physical requirement is passing the Candidate Physical Ability Test. The Candidate Physical Ability Test (CPAT) is a nationwide standard developed by the International Association of Firefighters. The CPAT involves successfully completing 8 fire related tasks in a time of 10 minutes and 20 seconds, or less. Candidates will be required to wear a 75 lb vest for the first event and a 50 lb vest for the remaining 7 events. Candidates should prepare for CPAT by developing a sound base of cardiovascular fitness and strength training. (Show video of weight training, running and stairmaster training). While there are many types of cardiovascular training; running, and, if possible, using a stairmaster stepmill, with a weighted vest, will provide you with the training, most closely related to the CPAT test and fire academy training.

NOTE: The stairmaster stepmill is set at 60 steps per min for both the CPAT test and the stairmaster test as part of the required medical. Higher intensity interval training should be included in a candidate's cardiovascular training program. High intensity interval training involves training outside of one's comfort zone, at heart rates of up to 90% of maximum. In other words, on a scale of 1-10, 10 being as hard as you can tolerate, candidates should perform intervals at 8 ½ to 9 ½. A description of interval training programs using a stairmaster or running is included in a link at the end of this video and can also be found in the Candidate Physical Preparation Guide.

Stepmill Test

This type of training will also assist you in passing the required stepmill test as part of the medical exam. Interval training should only begin, after an individual has developed a sound base of cardiovascular fitness. This cardiovascular base can take up to 6 weeks to develop. To start a cardio vascular training program, one should begin with running or using a stairmaster every other day. A combination of the two can also be used. This base program should be performed for at least 3- 4 weeks before additional days are added. Any cardio vascular training program should begin with some dynamic stretching a proper warm-up, followed by the workout and finished with a cool down and post workout stretch.

Exercise programs must progress to an intensity to meet the demands of CPAT, and then become even more intense to meet the increased demands of Fire Academy Training.

Be Aware: Pasing CPAT isn't Everything!

Candidates should be aware that, passing CPAT may not indicate one's ability to successfully complete fire academy training. Although a weighted vest is worn during CPAT testing, the demand of carrying, and then performing fire related tasks, with over 100 pounds of tools and equipment, is far more difficult. Candidates must realize this progressive increase in demand from CPAT to fire academy training, and increase their training program accordingly. These workouts should include running, stair climbing, weightlifting, and if possible more specific functional training.

Pre-employment Aerobic Capacity Test (1 ½ mile run)

Prior to entering Probationary firefighter school, candidates will be tested and must be able to run 1 ½ miles in 13 minutes or less. Candidates who fail to complete the run in 13 minutes or less will be sent to The Bureau of Health Services for further evaluation before being considered for Fire Academy appointment. By the end of the 18 week Probationary Firefighters School, recruits must be able to complete the same 1 ½ mile run in 12 minutes or less. While running on a treadmill will increase your cardiovascular conditioning, running outside on the harder surface will be more specific to fire academy training.

Candidates must continue training, at an even higher level, after completing CPAT, in order to be adequately prepared for fire academy training.

Probationary Firefighters School (PFS)

Running, calisthenics and other fire related skills, including Functional Skills Training (FST), occur daily during Fire Academy training. Functional Skills Training (FST) involves performing a series of fire related tasks in full firefighter gear. FST will measure a recruit's ability to safely and effectively perform the duties of a firefighter while wearing full personal protective equipment including a self-contained breathing apparatus. FST includes, but is not limited to, skills such as climbing stairs with tools and equipment weighing in excess of 100 lbs, advancing hose lines, forcible entry, victim rescue, and raising ladders. FST requires an extremely high level of physical conditioning, well beyond what is necessary to pass CPAT. Recruits will be evaluated in FST and must pass FST, in order to graduate. In addition to physical training and FST, recruits are also required to perform such skills as climbing an aerial ladder with tools and equipment, bring a victim down an aerial ladder, perform confined space search, operate and advance a charged hose line etc.

Resource Links:
8 Week Study Guide
BHS Guidance Document
Frequently Asked Questions About The Medical Evaluation
Candidate BHS Forms
Candidate Mentorship Program Fact Sheet
Candidate Physical Ability Test (CPAT)
Physical Preparation Guide
Probie Manual
The Recruiter newsletter
Study Guide Test Questions
Probationary Firefighters School Physical Training Video 1
Probationary Firefighters School Physical Training Video 2

Video Series Links:

Intro: Attention all candidates
While at the FDNY Training Academy you'll undergo 18 weeks of intensive work, Your overall grade in the Academy will be 50 percent based on in-class exams and academics, and 50 percent on your physical fitness performance and test scores.

Probationary Firefighter School
This first section will introduce you to the academic and physical requirements of Probie School; the mentorship program; the importance of team concept; time management; and what will be expected of you when you enter the Academy.

How to read an FDNY Document (tips to read effectively)
This section will focus on reading the written materials you'll be responsible for, and techniques to improve retention and knowledge.

Effective study habits
Proper studying habits are key to absorbing, understanding and retaining information. This chapter will explain study techniques; when and where to study; how to study; and how to learn difficult facts, equations and numbers.

How to perform better on FDNY exams
This chapter will address test taking skills & techniques.

An overview of physical fitness standards
This chapter will explain Academy fitness standards and training techniques.

Candidate Physical Ability Test (CPAT)
This chapter will explain the Candidate Physical Ability Test (CPAT) and what is required to pass this test.

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