Thread: Forest Service Pack Test
02-05-2000, 06:18 PM #1Captain HickmanFirehouse.com Guest
Forest Service Pack Test
Seen where the Forest Service finally did something right.
FEBRUARY 4 -- BOISE, ID: The Forest Service will be implementing the Work Capacity Test (WCT) for the 2000 wildland fire season. Interim direction for implementation was issued on January 20, 2000. Currently, Forest Service regions are in the process of preparing for administering the testing. Check with your local fire management office for implementation details in your area.
The following four categories of physical fitness have been established in the Wildland Fire Qualification Subsystem Guide PMS 310-1, http://www.fs.fed.us/fire/310-1/
For details on the test itself and physical fitness information see the Pack Test, http://www.fs.fed.us/fire/safety/packtest.html
and Fit to Work brochures online, http://www.fs.fed.us/fire/safety/fit.shtml
Additional safety information is available on the Forest Service Safety website. http://www.fs.fed.us/fire/safety/
Good Luck to all and heads up.
03-05-2000, 11:36 PM #2blackbullFirehouse.com Guest
So Captain Haickman finally sees where the "Forest Service finally did something right" be adopting the Pack Test?? Well, as a frequent contributor to the Widlafire Forum (his record shows 100 posts), I'm sure he's well aware that it was the US Forest Service that initiated the process of developing a new Work Capacity Test (the "Pack Test") at its Missoula Technology & Development Center under the leadership of Dr. Brian Sharkey. It was field tested on USFS personnel in the mid-90's, and freely distributed to the rest of the wildfire community - both nationally and internationally - after the scientific validity of the test was verified. A fatality in Arkansas during January 1999 caused a delay in implementation, in order to insure that all test administration procedures were well documented to prevent other similar events.
So, if this is the event when the Forest Service "finally did something right", so be it! And with such an experienced wildland fire expert as Captain Hickman out there, the USFS will probably be wanting to bring him into their National-level Incident Command Teams so that he can help insure that they do something else righton future fires and other fire management activities....?
03-06-2000, 12:34 PM #3SWIDFCWINSFirehouse.com Guest
Your posting in response to Capt Hickman's posting about the Pack Test was a bit tinged with sarcasm directed towards him. Capt Hickman has been an excellent contributor to this forum and has supplied a great deal of good and informative information to our forum readers.
As the Moderator of this wildland forum, I must respectfully ask that you, or anyone else, please refrain from this type of posted commentary. This forum is dedicated to the respectful type of information sharing that we as firefighters can utilize and enjoy.
[This message has been edited by SWIDFCWINS (edited March 06, 2000).]
03-06-2000, 05:47 PM #4Captain HickmanFirehouse.com Guest
Let’s go way back to the 1975 when the ‘Step Test’ became the main physical testing procedure for hiring wildland firefighters for state, federal, and private contractors. The ‘Step Test” was developed by a Swedish doctor, Per-Olaf Astrand in the 50’s. It was noted at that time, in the 70’s, that the ‘Step Test’ did not evaluate muscular fitness of an individual. Studies were done in the 1980’s, which showed that muscular fitness was a must for the wildland firefighter, but it was found out that many women did not have the level of muscular fitness needed, and Washington had the program put in the back-burner, so to speak, since it could have discriminated against women. Dr. Sharkey, who is a retired professor from the University of Montana Human Performance Laboratory, and other individuals, such as Art Jukkala, which worked within the Missoula Technology and Development Center, were very interested and concerned about the safety and fitness issues of the firefighters. They began to develop some type of fitness test, which addressed the needed of a fair physical test that did not discriminate against anyone. Finally in 1994 agency officials in Washington requested Missoula Technology and Development Center to develop a more efficient test, one that would remain inexpensive to administer.
In 1996, National Wildfire Coordinating Group agreed to replace the step test with the pack test, and gave a one-year lead-time to start the program. Finally in 1998, the Pack Test was pilot-tested. There was resistance from the employee’s union, as to the validity of the data that was used to pick the pack test as the correct physical test to use.
Then on January 11, 1999, an individual was taking the test at Paris, Arkansas, which is a part of the Ozark-St. Francis National Forest, and died while taking the test. On January 16, 1999, the US Forest Service suspended the test for their individuals. Other organizations continued to use the test. The Forest Service expressed concern that the test needed to address additional area of safety for participants. They had hoped to have recommendations on describing how to fully implement the tests sometime in ’99. Now in 2000, there is a major importance on: Pre-participation screening procedures or PAR – Q, Physical conditioning preparedness, and Administration procedures of the pack test.
I am by no means saying that the USFS was right or wrong in waiting for the consideration of Safety, but we all know how the government works. Regardless how hard you try, you cannot please everyone.
As far as my wanting to join the NIIMS, the National Interagency Incident Management System, I’ll have to pass. It appears to me that with the Forest Service loosing most of it’s more experienced members in that area and with there not being enough qualified individuals to fill those vacancies, I don’t think it would be fair for me, as an outsider to beat anyone out of a job. I would rather roll in the dirt and be a ‘ground pounder’ any day.
03-08-2000, 11:22 AM #5monteFirehouse.com Guest
I'm thinking this a w ay for us to express frustration with the conservative nature of bureaucracies. When the FS discontinued the pack test, their announcement of that came at the same time the national safety team, multi-agency membership at the National Interagency Fire Center, published a statement that the pack test was valid as a measure of lower and upper body strength, and aerobic condtioning. Dr. Sharkey's tests also demonstrated quite well that the test did not "significantly" discriminate against men or women. At least the statistics were not reliable to show it was discriminating. The point being, the test is very amoral. It is not good or bad, just is. So the failure of the test, e.g. the Arkansas fatality, demonstrates that we use it improperly. There were also fatalities with the step test. For good or bad, at least we are all on the same page now, and after using the pack test as through my agency, it definitely is my choice of scales to measure fitness. 2 cents worth
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