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

Overview of the Fire Cadet Hiring Process

Written Exam

This is a general aptitude test designed to test your abilities in areas including, but not limited to, verbal comprehension, deductive reasoning, and mechanical aptitude. No prior knowledge about the fire service is required. A free applicant preparation guide is available to download.

Downloadable Resources

Fitness Information

Candidates should continue to prepare 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:

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.


Our AFD Recruiting section also facilitates a mentorship program for candidates who are in the process of joining our department. Just reach out and we’ll put you in touch with one of our firefighters who can coach and encourage you along the way!

Project FireFit

AFD offers an optional physical conditioning program, Project FireFit, designed to prepare smaller-statured applicants for success with the CPAT (dates and times TBD). This program is 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 also provided the following “readiness recommendations” for applicants, who should be able to:

1.5 Mile Run

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

Metronome Pushups

  • Minimum: 36 push-ups at 80 beats/minute onto 5 inch tall prop
  • Competitive: 43 push-ups at 80 beats/minute onto 5 inch tall prop

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

Side Plank

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

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)

Familiarity with variations of the squat, deadlift, overhead press, and bent-over row

View/Download the Physical Training Expectations