Entrance Testing (CPAT)

What is the CPAT?

The Cedar Falls Fire Rescue uses the Candidate Physical Ability Test© (CPAT) during the hiring process.

Once you have successfully passed the written test for the position of firefighter, you will receive a letter through the postal service indicating when you are scheduled for the orientation to the CPAT. This orientation is not manditory, however, you are highly encouraged to attend your scheduled session.

Potential applicants are also encouraged to review the test information and preparation materials on this website.

The Fire Service Joint Labor Management Wellness / Fitness Initiative 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. 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.

When will the CPAT Test be given?

The next entrance testing will occur in 2014. Questions regarding the entrant hiring process can be directed to Battalion Chief John Bostwick at 319-273-8649 or via email.

How do I prepare for the CPAT?

To learn more about the physical agility testing you will go through it is recommended that you watch the video about the CPAT course and expectations of candidates taking the test. We have also prepared a guide in PDF format that will help you to get ready for test day.

Preparation Materials

What do I need to know before taking the CPAT?

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, using two 12.5-pound weights that simulate a high-rise pack (hose bundle), is added to the shoulders for the stair climb event.

Throughout all events, the participant must wear long pants, 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 tools and equipment were chosen to provide the highest level of consistency, safety and validity in measuring the candidate’s physical abilities. A schematic drawing of the CPAT is included in this orientation material; however, the course layout 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. To ensure the highest level of safety and to prevent exhaustion, 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.

Test Preparation

The Cedar Falls Fire Department has added a mentoring and practice program for CPAT candidates.

All candidates may attend orientation sessions during which they will receive hands on familiarity with the actual CPAT apparatus. During the sessions, Cedar Falls Firefighters will be available to advise all candidates to help them prepare for the CPAT.

Test Forms

Prior to taking the CPAT, each candidate must present valid identification, sign a number of forms, complete a waiver and release form and a sign-in form. Candidates are provided an opportunity to review a video detailing the CPAT and the failure points. It is the candidate's responsibility to ask questions if any part of the test events or procedures are not understood. At the conclusion of the CPAT, the candidate must sign the CPAT Evaluation Form and complete and sign the Rehabilitation Form. Failure to complete and sign any of these forms results in failure of the CPAT.