Candidate Physical Ability Test (CPAT)
Vincennes University Gibson Center
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The Candidate Physical Ability Test (CPAT) is the nationally-recognized standard for measuring an individual’s ability to handle the physical demands of the firefighting profession.
The timed test consists of (8) separate events and measures how candidates handle each task. Each event is designed to simulate physical activities common to firefighters.
Participants in the CPAT must navigate eight separate events on a closed course within a span of 10 minutes and 20 seconds. Each event simulates a physical skill or function that firefighters experience on the job.
Ladder Raise and Extension
Ceiling Breach and Pull
During the entire test, candidates wear a protective helmet, gloves, and a 50-lb weight vest, designed to simulate the weight of firefighter PPE. For the stair climb – the first event – candidates will have an additional 25lbs attached to their vest, to simulate the carrying of a hose pack into a high-rise fire.
Candidates will be accompanied by proctors, who will call out directions for the test events, monitor the candidate's testing time, and ensure that each event is completed correctly.
Each event must be completed exactly as prescribed – if a candidate cannot physically complete any component of the test, the candidate will fail the entire test; if a candidate commits specific mistakes during any event, the candidate fails the entire test. A candidate also fails if all eight events are not completed within the 10-minute, 20-second time limit.
Scheduling Your CPAT
All CPAT participants must be at least 18 years of age and submit state-issued photo identification. CPAT tests must be scheduled online in advance -- test-day registration or rescheduling is not accepted.
General Fee Information
Fee Waiver Information
Preparing to Take the CPAT
The IAFF/IAFC standards for the Candidate Physical Ability Test states that each candidate must have the opportunity to attend at least two orientation sessions within eight (8) weeks prior to taking the test.
During orientation, candidates will receive instruction on the test and the test events, and will have the opportunity to try out the CPAT testing equipment to better understand what will be required.
Participation in one or more orientation sessions is strongly encouraged. Candidates who take advantage of orientation consistently have a higher passage rate than those who do not. The two orientation sessions are included in the $135.00 testing fee.
In addition to orientation, candidates have the option to sign up for at least two (2) timed practice runs prior to the test itself. A practice test is a full-scale simulation of an official test. Like orientation, candidates who complete at least one practice test consistently pass at a higher rate.
If you choose not to participate in this pre-test program, you will be required to sign a waiver acknowledging that you are aware of the pre-test program and have declined to include it in your preparations to complete the CPAT.
Getting in Shape to Take CPAT
Like firefighting, the key to success in the CPAT is preparation.
- Physical demands of the test
- Training strategies
- Techniques for building flexibility, strength and cardiovascular endurance
- Hydration and training strategies
Test Support Services
CPAT Equipment Rental: contact VU Gibson at 812.888.2871
Day of the Test
On test day, you will be required to show proper government-issued identification.
For the safety of candidates and proctors, a strict dress code is enforced:
- Long Pants to the ankle (pockets must be emptied prior test commencement)
- T-Shirt or sweatshirt
- Closed-toe/heel footwear
- No loose jewelry allowed
Candidates must meet the required dress code before participating in any CPAT event.
If you have additional questions about the CPAT, check out our CPAT FAQ. If you still have questions, contact the VU Gibson Center at 812-888-2871.