The Austin Fire Department uses the Candidate Physical Ability Test (CPAT) during the Fire Cadet Hiring Process.
The Candidate Physical Ability Test consists of eight separate events. The CPAT is a sequence of events requiring the candidate to progress along a predetermined path from event to event in a continuous manner (see CPAT map). This test was developed to allow fire departments a means for obtaining pools of trainable candidates who are physically able to perform essential job tasks at fire scenes.
This is a pass/fail test based on a validated maximum total time of 10 minutes and 20 seconds.
In these events, the candidate wears a 50-pound vest to simulate the weight of self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) and firefighter protective clothing. An additional 25 pounds that simulate a hose bundle, is added to the shoulders for the stair climb event. Throughout all events, the participant must wear long pants, a hard hat with chin strap, work gloves and footwear with no open heel or toe. Watches and loose or restrictive jewelry are not permitted.
All props were designed to obtain the necessary information regarding physical ability. The map of the CPAT included in this orientation material may vary in order to conform to the fire department's test area. The events and distances between events are always the same. The events are placed in a sequence that best simulates fire scene events while allowing an 85-foot walk between events. No running is allowed between events. This walk allows approximately 20 seconds to recover and regroup before each event.
To ensure scoring accuracy, two stopwatches are used to time the CPAT. One stopwatch is designated as the official test time stopwatch, the second is the backup stopwatch. If mechanical failure occurs, the time on the backup stopwatch is used. The stopwatches are set to the pass/fail time and countdown from 10 minutes and 20 seconds. If time elapses prior to the completion of the test, the test is concluded and the participant fails the test.