Often, candidates don't realize that it's not just strength in the physical agility. The "Nugget " is technique, momentum and grip. If you are uncertain or having problems in the physical, take advantage of any college or academy programs to learn the techniques to practice pulling hose, throwing a ladder, dragging a dummy (not you), etc. Many departments offer practice "run-through" sessions for their physical test prior to the actual date of testing. Don't pass up this opportunity.
You don't want any surprises during the physical agility. You need to have practiced hands on with every segment of the agility. Too many candidates think they are in great shape. One who did not take advantage of the practice session told me, "Hey, that 75 pound hose pack was heavy. Humping that hose bundle up the tower, hosting and other manipulative skills, then back down the tower steps made my lungs burn (they were still burning days later) and caused the loss of valuable seconds." The best way to train for this event is to up the cardio by going up and down bleachers with a backpack with weights or a weighted vest from www.WeightVest.com
In those areas of concern, work with a trainer at a gym in those fields of motion that would improve your ability. Often fire training divisions know the exercises that would apply to those areas. When ice skaters were trying to break the record for a triple lux, they found by working on upper body strength was the secret. You can learn more about physical agility training from www.firefightersworkout.com
Check in with your local area department and arrange to go by for a little coaching. What firefighter wouldn't want to puff out their chest showing his or her special techniques that got them their job or help on the fire ground. One of our candidates was losing sleep over the uncertainty of not being able to throw a ladder. These fears were put to rest after visiting a local fire department that showed the needed technique.
With ladder throws, it's gaining momentum and a continuous movement from beginning to end of the throw, using a pivot point and the weight of the ladder to your advantage. Dragging hose or a dummy is starting with a thrust to start up the momentum, taking shorter steps, keeping a low forward center of gravity, using your own weight to keep up the momentum during the pull.
Walking a ladder is using a pivot point and the weight of the ladder to your advantage. When raising the fly, pull the rope in short hand over hand movements in front of your face not much higher than your head. On each grip of the rope, turn your fist palm down to improve your grip. Keep one foot planted at the spur (bottom one side or the other) keep the other foot back for balance. Slightly tilt the ladder towards the wall for balance as you raise it.
The dummy from my son's department disappeared from the training center. Two days later a 911 call came in from a pay phone asking for help. When units arrived at the scene, here was the dummy standing up in the phone booth with the phone receiver to his ear. Case closed.
Many candidates feel if they set some kind of a record it will help in hiring. Not true! It is pass or fail. The secret "Nugget" here is to pace yourself. You don't have to break the record. If you would have no problem in passing the physical, then, why would you want to try and impress the training staff, the other candidates and tout that you set a new record? In your haste, you might injure yourself or fall down the stairs in the tower . . . and, you don't even pass. Now, you not only didn't pass the PT, you're out of the hiring process. How would you feel McFly?
Here are some valuable tips for CPAT from Tom Dominguez and Reed Norwood:
The secret to passing the CPAT is to be in shape with a high cardiovascular fitness level and to know the techniques as Captain Bob has mentioned. The average time is between nine minutes and ten minutes, twenty seconds. Try to think of the CPAT (or any agility) as a marathon where you are trying to complete the event instead of going for the record time. You can burn out if you are going for time no matter how well in shape you are.