To help potential candidates prepare for the Fire Cadet hiring process, some tips have been provided:

Overview of the Fire Cadet Hiring Process

Fitness Information

Firefighting is among the most physically demanding professions. Therefore, candidates should prepare well in advance for the physical components of the hiring process. Specifically, you must be able to complete the Candidate Physical Ability Test© (CPAT) to continue in the process. Information on this test is listed below for use in your fitness training.

Treadmill Test for Fire Cadet Applicants

  • Medical Treadmill Fitness TestPhysical fitness test based on MET score of 12 or above. The warm-up stage lasts three minutes. Stages I through VI last one minute. Stage VII lasts one minute and 59 seconds. The test will terminate at 11 minutes.
(% grade)
Warm up 0:00 – 2:59 3.0 0
I 3:00 – 3:59 4.5 0
II 4:00 – 4:59 4.5 2
III 5:00 – 5:59 5.0 2
IV 6:00 – 6:59 5.0 4
V 7:00 – 7:59 5.5 4
VI 8:00 – 8:59 5.5 6
VII* 9:00 – 10:59 6.0 6

Candidate Physical Ability Test© (CPAT)

The Austin Fire Department uses the Candidate Physical Ability Test© (CPAT) during the Fire Cadet Hiring Process.

The CPAT consists of eight separate events requiring the applicant to progress along a predetermined path from event to event in a continuous manner. 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 applicant wears a 50-pound vest to simulate the weight of Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA) and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). An additional 25 pounds that simulates a hose bundle is added to the shoulders for the stair climb. Throughout all events, the applicant 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 events are placed in a sequence that best simulates fire scenes while allowing an 85-foot walk between them. No running is allowed between events. This walk allows approximately 20 seconds to recover and regroup before the next.

To ensure scoring accuracy, two stopwatches are used to time the CPAT. One is designated as the official test time, 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 applicant fails.

FireFit (Phase 1: CPAT Preparation)

AFD offers an optional physical conditioning program, FireFit (Phase 1: CPAT Preparation), designed to prepare applicants for success with the CPAT assessment during the pre-hire process. This program is free and completely optional; no applicant is required to participate, nor does anyone receive “extra credit or points” in the hiring process for doing so.

AFD fitness staff have provided the following “readiness recommendations” for applicants, who should be able to:

Stair Climb: Three minutes climbing on a stairmill at a rate of one step per second with additional 25lbs. Find a gym with a stairmill, nearby parking garage, or stadium to practice climbing steps with a vest or backpack with additional weight. Additional exercise recommendations include weighted lunges, cossack squat, sissy squats, weighted box step-ups, banded lateral walks, and hill sprints.

Hose Line Advance and Pull (only event allowed to run): Forward tire drags, forward sled drag, cable or dumbbell rows, hip thrust, calve raises, and deadlift.

Equipment Carry: Carry two differently weighted saws a set distance. Farmer's walk with kettlebells, dumbbells, or sandbags of different weight, overhead dumbbell or kettlebell carry, front rack carry.

Ladder Raise/Extension: Raise and extend a ladder without allowing the rope to slip through hands. Narrow/wide grip lat pulldown, single arm lat pulldown, bent-over barbell row, dead hangs, and scap pull-ups.

Forcible Entry: Swing 10 lb sledgehammer striking a measuring device until buzzer is activated. Rotational wall balls, cable or sandbag wood chop, Pallof press, sledgehammer swings against a tire, plank dumbbell pull through, ab rollout, anti-rotational band holds, and side plank hip drop.

Search: Proceed through dark search maze with obstacles. Bear crawl, weighted bear crawl, army crawl plank/knee to elbow plank, plank plate drag with hands or feet.

Rescue: Drag a 165 lb dummy around a barrel and back. Drag a weighted sled backwards, drag a tire backwards, deadlifts, hip thrust, leg press, eccentric hamstring slides, Romanian deadlift, and kettlebell or front rack squats.

Ceiling Breach/Pull:  Use a pike pole to both push and pull the weighted prop. Overhead pull (single arm cable pull down, bicep curls, face pulls, high rows, ball slams, pull-ups, and inverted row) and overhead push (barbell pike pole thrust, push press, dumbbell thrusters, neutral grip shoulder press, bottoms-up kettlebell press, dumbbell floor chest press, and incline press).

Remember: proper warm-up and cool down will aid in injury prevention and quicker strength gains.

Questions? E-mail 


FireFit (Phase 2: Academy Preparation)

AFD offers an optional physical conditioning program, FireFit (Phase 2: Academy Preparation), designed to prepare applicants for success with the Cadet Fitness Assessment (CFA) during the Academy.  This program is free and completely optional. It consists of five (5) physical and motor fitness events designed to measure muscular strength and endurance, cardio-respiratory endurance, power, balance, and agility. When administered together as a single battery, these five events help the Training Academy staff determine if a cadet possesses the stamina and movement skills required to successfully complete the physical program and perform the duties required of a firefighter in the Austin Fire Department.

The following exercises will be assessed and evaluated no less than three times during a cadet academy:

1.5 Mile Run

  • Minimum: Under 12 minutes
  • Competitive: Under 10:40

Completing 1.5 miles in less than 12 minutes (8:00/mile pace) demonstrates the candidate has the minimum necessary aerobic conditioning to complete the physical training (PT) sessions without compromising his/her ability to safely perform skills work.

Metronome Pushups

  • Minimum: 30 push-ups at 80 beats/minute onto 5 inch tall prop
  • Competitive: 43 push-ups at 80 beats/minute onto 5 inch tall prop

Performing at least 30 push-ups at 80 BPM indicates an acceptable level of muscular endurance, core strength, and is on par with the average number of push-ups performed by members of AFD in the annual wellness assessments. At each beep of the metronome, a candidate must be either at the bottom or top of the push-up position. The chest must touch the 5 inch prop in the bottom position.

Inverted Rows

  • Minimum: 30 inverted rows at 80 beats/minute up to a 5 inch tall prop
  • Competitive: 40 inverted rows at 80 beats/minute up to a 5 inch tall prop

Inverted rows measure upper body pulling strength/endurance as well as core strength. Finding the proper inverted row setup to prepare may prove to be challenging. A more accessible option is pull-ups; improving the number of pull-ups you can perform is an effective strategy to increase the inverted row.

Side Plank

  • Minimum: 1:13/side
  • Competitive: 1:20/side

The ability to perform a side plank shows the candidate has the necessary core strength to safely and effectively carry out the movements that comprise the PT program. This is also on par with the average plank time held by members of AFD in the annual wellness assessments.


The following exercises will be taught and developed throughout the cadet academy:

Tower Stair Climb

  • Minimum: 18-story stair climb with 35 lbs additional weight (vest, dumbbells, etc.)
  • Competitive: 27-story stair climb with 35 lbs additional weight (vest, dumbbells, etc.)

In both PT and skills work, candidates will be required to walk up the nine-story training tower multiple times without a break, often while carrying a 35 lb - 45 lb hose bundle. It is imperative the candidate is prepared for this type of strenuous physical activity.

Familiarity with variations of the squat, deadlift, overhead press, and bent-over row: Strength training is a large component of the cadet PT program. Proficiency in these movements is helpful but not necessary prior to the start of the academy.

Remember: proper warm-up and cool down will aid in injury prevention and quicker strength gains.

Questions? E-mail 

View/Download the Physical Training Expectations