I am going to be going to the CPAT orientation and practice test on November 22nd. I will be taking the actually test December 21st. This will be my first time taking it, so I'm a little nervous. Does anyone have any advice/tips they would like to share?
Well, do your best, if for some reason you do not pass, then I would suggest a CPAT prep class at your local community college. They are pretty common classes here in South Ca, so I imagine same up north:)
Originally Posted by FF14
get as many practices as you can
Originally Posted by MichaelXYZ
I've never heard of a CPAT prep class, beside the orientation/practice that the testing location offers. I will look around, because I've never seen any of my local colleges offer a course like this.
Just a cursory search of your area. Mission College in Santa Clara offers:
Originally Posted by FF14
PE 004D Firefighter Physical Agility Training
Just look with your local CC that has a fire tech program, it will be offered :)
Thanks. I wasn't a 100% sure if that includes CPAT. I am planning on going to Mission College to get my degree once I get my 60 units that I need to transfer.
Good set of lungs and a good set of legs! Hit the stairs and the pavement if you haven't done so already. I stick around the 3 mile mark running intervals. Weight vests can get pricey, so I've just loaded up a back pack with some weight and used the stairs in my house. If you're planning on doing that, I'd say to try and find a backpack that has chest and hip support clips to take some of the weight off your shoulders. I also do regular weight training 3-4 days a week.
In reality, you have 10:20 to get through the whole process, 3:20 of it being the stair climber. It doesn't matter if you do it in 6:30 or 10:19, passing is passing. Just be sure to condition those legs so they aren't Jell-O when you come off the stairs.
If you pace yourself you'll be just fine. The test is designed for the average Joe off the street with an average fitness level. Your practice run will give you an idea of where you're at and what you'll need to work on if anything. Good luck.
Thank you!! I am taking a weight training class at my local community college and they just happen to have a stair master with the CPAT programmed into it. I have started wearing my backpack with all my school stuff in it, while I'm doing the stair master. I am slowly starting to add weights to it. The stair master, the ceiling breach and pull, and the ladder raise and extension are the parts that I'm a little worried about.
Work on your upper body strength. Shoulder exercises, lat pull downs, pull-ups if you can, rows just to name a few. That'll hit the areas for your ladder raise/extensions.
Originally Posted by FF14
Ceiling breach and pull is easy. The biggest problem I see people make is relying solely on their arms. Your legs are huge muscles, use them! Make sure you're planted and basically do a squat to get the weight up. Squats, leg press, leg extension etc will help. Use your body weight to help you do the pull portion.
Keep at it and good luck, brother.
Thanks! I have been doing a lot of everything you have suggested.
I don't take being called a brother offensive, but I am a girl. ;) Just an FYI.
K, let me see if I can think of tips for each station for you. Each is subtle, but add up to some decent time saved:
Stair climb: Seems like you have this one already squared away since you are actually practicing on a stair climb machine with weight. Only thing I would add is to step up quickly for each step. 1 sec/step is painfully slow so try to not tax your muscles by having them move your body up slowly. Think about trying to get from one step to the next as quickly as possible. Looks goofy, but this is what backpackers use to conserve energy for long treks. Think this site probably does a better job of explaining it.
Hose drag/pull: Don't just grab the nozzle and go. Little trick is that there is a line/mark on the hose and you can grab all the way up to that line, but not over. Grab up to that mark because it's all hose that you can carry and don't have to pull at the end of the station. Also when you get to the end of the drag and you have to pull the remaining try to pull with your torso and not just your arms. Hard to describe, but you should be using your waist and shoulders to pull the hose, not just your arms (like smoothbore said, use your big muscles).
Equipment carry: Not much to say here. I would suggest that you fast walk as quickly as you can. This is a pretty easy station comparatively so I try to go fast here to give you extra time at the other stations.
Ladder raise: No need to be gentle with raising the ladder. Get it up there quick and don't miss a rung. Regarding the ladder raise, I think this a underestimated station that I have seen several failures on. Don't let the rope slip otherwise it's an automatic failure I think. If you have weak grip strength I would try to work on that before hand but also grip the rope properly. You want your thumbs pointed down and not up so you get that extra friction on the bottom part of your hand. See this pic for a better idea if you aren't picturing it. Take your time with this portion because it's too easy to go fast and let it slip.
Force entry: Um, not much I can thing of here. Sometimes I find that in the colder months this takes more hits than in the warmer ones, but that could just be my imagination. Make sure you hit your target in the middle to transfer the most force. Sacrifice a little power to make sure your hits count.
Search: No big deal, but be prepared to army crawl for the last 15? feet. And remember that this is with a 50lb vest on so maybe give it a try before the real thing. Usually it's not completely blacked out so you can tell when you are getting to the end and if you can get some momentum and dive under the low ceiling that will help. Keep your shoulder on the inside wall too. It doesn't usually happen, but people have gotten turned around.
Dummy drag: Dummy drag sucks no matter what. Make sure that you are lifting with your legs and get it up as high as you can. The more off the ground the less friction. If it looks like you can cross the dummy's legs I would do so. Seems silly but it's that much less friction on the ground. You have to use the straps attached to the dummy, so if you get a chance to practice this make sure you are trying it with the straps and not putting your arms under the dummy's and bear hugging. They won't allow that. You can try the one handled drag, but that usually takes more strength but give it a shot!
Breach and pull: Like smoothbore said, use your legs. This is the station where you just have to gut your way through it. You just finished the dummy drag and you are hurting, but mind over muscle. You will your way through this station, because with the right technique it isn't hard. Also don't be afraid to make some noise at that station. Slam those plates around so you don't accidentally miss a rep.
Think that's it. Best of luck!
WOW!!!!! Thank you very much. Very, very helpful. I will be doing the practice test next friday, so I'm hoping I'll learn a lot.
NP, let us know how it goes. Good luck!
How did it go?
Also, keep in mind that the majority of the test is walking. The speed of your walking between stations has as much to do with your overall time as the seconds each station takes.
Let me start off by saying, I was not physically and mentally ready for that. I did the orientation and practice test last month. I was not expecting them to actually let us do the whole series during the orientation. For me, it was a little challenging doing everything, and that was without the vest. Just like I thought, I had a problem with the breach and pull, ladder raise, dummy drag, and force entry. Unfortunately, some how I really messed up my shoulder when I did the dummy drag in the orientation. I did try to do the practice test the same day. But, my shoulder and for some reason my spine really hurt, so I decided to stop - I didn't want to risk further hurting myself. I have rescheduled the actually test till January, just so I could have a little more time to train.
Sorry to hear you hurt yourself. For the dummy drag is all about moving your legs and feet. I take it you used one hand for the dummy drag? Most people do that method, hell I do. But for most women and shorter men from what I have seen if you quickly move your feet while still staying in control and using two hands you will be fine. The ladder raise is pretty self explanatory. The first ladder lift it up using your legs, and walk it up one hand on each rung. Then when you walk to the next one the tip is while pulling the rope, pivot your pinky downward that way it kind helps lock the halyard in your hand and doesnt slip. This helps you control the ladder. The breach and pull is at the end when you are all out of gas. My tip is the breachs put your hands at the bottom knob of the pole. Use your legs to push up that way you are not really using all arms. And for the pull downs, if you need to use all your body weight to pull on the pole while squatting down. This helps alot. And for the forcible entry, that one just sucks. If you can go get or find a 15lb sledgehammer and practice hitting it against something steel or solid. This will build your strength up for it. The vest weighs us down alot so if you can get a backpack of weights or rocks and go find a football stadium and practice walking stairs with it and then walk around so you get use to the 50-75 lbs. Good luck.
Yeah, am sorry that you hurt yourself during your practice test. That sucks. Like you said though, at least your test isn't until January so hopefully you've had time to heal and get back to getting yourself ready. Best of luck!
"For me, it was a little challenging doing everything, and that was without the vest. Just like I thought, I had a problem with the breach and pull, ladder raise, dummy drag, and force entry. Unfortunately, some how I really messed up my shoulder when I did the dummy drag in the orientation."
I know it's not politically correct, but someone needs to tell you the truth:
If you hurt yourself trying to complete the CPAT, which is hands down the easiest physical test ever created, you might not be cut out for a career in the fire service.
The strains placed on your body during a fire academy are (at least should be) 10 times harder than the events in the CPAT.
We work wearing turnouts and an SCBA, which are much more cumbersome than a weight vest.
Many folks dont like to hear this, because their entire life they have been told they can be anything they want if they try hard enough.
Fine, maybe you have what it takes.
But it definitely sounds like you need to seriously look in the mirror and figure out if you have the physicality needed to meet the demands of this career.
Most candidates in our area that take the CPAT can do so in street clothes and not break a sweat.
I watch them often because I am a CPAT Test Proctor.
The CPAT was created to test old firefighters already on the job, so it was made easy enough that anyone could pass it.
Well, almost anyone.
The reason the IAFF and IAFC signed off on it was because the old guys with bad backs could still pass this test, so it could be used as an annual evaluation of their fitness.
It is NOT an accurate assessment of a candidate's ability to perform the tasks of a Fire Academy.
I'm sure the cheerleaders on here will encourage you and call me a bully.
If you seriously need to work out that hard to pass the CPAT, and you find yourself INJURED while practicing for it, you need to re-evaluate your lifestyle and commitment to being strong and in shape.
And if you are just too small and weak, well maybe this career isn't for you.
Curiously, thats what they told me when I wanted to play in the NFL.
My advice is to not be a turd and pay attention to what you're doing. Any reasonably in shape adult that can adhere to the simple rules should be able to pass. It is ridiculously easy given the time allotment. It is, in fact, the least demanding physical fitness test I've ever had to take. Interestingly enough, it's also the most expensive.
I've edited this to agree with the guy that posted above me. Amen, flipper.
I would like to thank everyone for their advice. Unfortunately, some health issues came to light when I was taking the CPAT, that has put pursuing becoming a firefighter on hold for now till I can get things figured out.
I will be focusing on the EMT side of things for now and will be starting my EMT training on Monday.
Thank you again.