1. #1
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    Angry Firemens Challenge

    Just wondering if any other departments use the challenge to test there members ability. The brass of the NOFD uses the challenge to test us once a year and if you can't finish the challenge you are placed on sick leave.Your own personal sick leave.

    To some it may not sound like a problem but when you have men doing all these task back to back by themselves it goes against what is taught on the fire ground.We are always told not to freelance and to work as a team or in pairs for safety but here you do every thing alone.This is our only contact with our training division through out the year and it is not training but seems to be used as a form of punishment.
    Some crews have just cleared from fire scenes and have been sent straight out to the challenge. It just makes no sense.

    For those that have any problems finishing the challenge there is no physical fitness program in place to assist them even though we have a physical fitness officer??? what he does is anyones guess!!!

    Only the suppression personal have to under go this yearly insanity that is excluding the Supt.(Metro Fire Chief of The Year) and his staff,District Chiefs,P.I.O.,Training School personal(which includes the physical fitness officer) and suppression personal assigned to the supply division. Now we always figured if its good enough for us why isn't it good enough for eveyone on the job???
    Isn't it best to lead by example and build moral or is it better to order men to do things that you know you couldn't do yourself???

    So as I was asking: Do any other departments use the challenge like this ??????????????????????????????

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    Default CHALLENGE

    We use the Firefighter combat challenge as a yearly fitness test for firefighters. And as you have stated the top brass ( bat chiefs and training people) do not have to do the test. I agree 100% they should be involved and we are trying to get this changed but it will take an act of Congress, but we are looking into it.

    So keep the faith and contact the IAFF they are great help on matters like these.


    Take care nad keep the faith.
    Last edited by 2dresq; 05-31-2002 at 04:11 AM.
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    Your right Bill the IAFF has a lot of material on ways to fight the challenge.
    Didn't this combat challenge start out as a game or compation started by some doctor? Also when you compete in the combat challenge it is suggested that you rest before you play the game and not do any thing strenuous for at least 12-24 hours after.

    The NOFD sends us to the Training School and right back in service which is against stated requirements for participents that compete in the combat challenge as a game. What purpose this once a year game is suppose to prove is beyond us lowly firemen in the firehouse who go out every day and have to do it for real.

    Also as mention above the brothers that have had trouble finishing the challenge have had no problems working on the fire ground.First they are usually working with their crew and not alone(freelancing)Second I don't know of any Fire Officer that would allow his men to be worked past the point of exhaustion without the chance for rehab like they are at the challenge and for what purpose????? What does this prove????
    Whats really needed is a physical fitness program and a year round training schedule that has members training and learning new methods and polishing up on old methods.

    The genisuses who lead us have added to the list of job related task that makes up the combat challenge and have set a time limit on how long this should take.They came up with 8 minutes.

    The NOFD has sustained numerous members injuried while doing the challenge.These injuries range from sprains and broken bones to members being injuried severly enough that they have been forced to retire and the kicker is that no trained medical personnel i.e.(EMS unit,EMT's)are on hand to assit anyone that gets injuried.

    An as a punishment for some members suing(and losing with the quickest decision in history handed down) the NOFD over the challenge the Metro Fire Chief of The Year is sending only the selected suppression members out to do the challenge now. Anyone familiar with New Orleans will know that at this time of the year temps. & humidity are already high , but yet the challenge rolls on but only for those memebers not lucky enough to be protected by the M.F.Chief of the Year.



    And from what I hear from the Ivory Towers is that morale is higher then ever


    FFNOLA
    Last edited by capt945; 05-31-2002 at 10:50 AM.

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    Well our company uses a form of the FFs challenge to test our blood pressure levels. The squad tests before we start and after to get I guess our blood pressure range. I definitly don't think this shows how good a firefighter you may be, but just what kind of shape you are in.
    Oh and what exactly does your challenge consist of?
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    Default Challenge or CPAT?

    I don't think I've heard of the actual CHALLENGE being used around here (Madison WI). Many do use the CPAT, and for my department we had to climb a ladder w/ax, open/close a hydrant, drag 2.5" hose (dry) about 100ft, remove/replace ladder from apparatus, striking a block with an ax, and drag a dummy 100feet, with an airpack. From what I remember of the actual FF Challenge, there were a couple more things to (raising equipment, hose spray, etc.)

    Our department has times you must complete these tasks, although if a person doesn't make it within, they may still be considered (i.e. if they're totally green, they may not know the most effective way to drag hose, dummies, etc.) However, its still a good test to determine potential.
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    - Phillips Brooks

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    I've got mixed feelings about this. First of all, let me state that if a fire department sets a fitness standard, whatever method they use Combat Challenge, CPAT or other, it should go across the board to all sworn personnel.

    The elements of the combat challenge are real...they are the job.

    The Combat Challenge was developed by Dr. Paul Davis. While on the fireground, I doubt that anyone would have to perform all the tasks within an eight minute timeframe. It is a measure of fitness for the competition. I participated in the Combat Challenge in 1996.

    This is my twist on using the Challenge as a fitness measurement tool. A firefighter would do the first portion.... let's say the stair climb and the hose hoist then back down the stairs. He would be timed on that. The next member of the company would be timed on that same event until everyone has done it. This gives everyone a chance to rest a bit, replensih fluids, etc. Add the times of each event to get the total time. Timeframes can be adjusted for age, FFNOLA stated that they have 8 minutes. That would be great for a firefighter from the age of 18 to 25.

    25 to 35 would have an additional 30 seconds over 8 minutes, 35 to 45 an additonal minute over the 8, etc.

    This method of testing has nothing to do with "freelancing". If someone who is part of a team cannot do the job, then the rest of the crew has to carry them and work harder to perform the same task on the fireground. The firefighter who cannot perform the job is a detriment to the safety of those who are working!

    As far as personal fitness goes, it does not take a nuclear physicist to determine that firefighting is a job that requires a certain level of fitness. There are "dead men walking" in every fire department...they just haven't keeled over yet. Most firehouses have a weight room, and they do get used. However, I'm sure that the day room gets a lot more business with firefighters who would rather lie in the "luge". The fittest part of their bodies is the finger they use to change the channel with the remote!

    FFNOLA...don't use the term "lowly firemen". Keep saying that and eventually you will believe it yourself!
    Last edited by CaptainGonzo; 05-31-2002 at 02:57 PM.
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    Default

    The Rhode Island Fire Academy and Beacon Mutual insurance (the TDI carrier for most all of the municipalities in the state, isn't it
    ironic, don'tcha think?) sponsor a statewide CPAT that is based on the challenge. Wearing a 30 lb. vest, you have to scale a set of stairs grap a hi-rise pack go down set it on a X, grab the one at the bottom and scale the stairs again, without grabbing the railing (5 sec
    penalty), then you go to a Kaiser force machine and push a weight 6 ft. with a composite sledge, then grab an 1 3/4 charged hose and drag
    it 100 ft. Then you go to a station with 100' of 2 1/2" hose donut
    rolled and lift it hand over hand 40' land it on an X, and do it again, if you slip you are penalized. Then you go and drag a 175 lb.
    dummy 100'. You have 6 minutes to do it, most do it in 3-4 minutes.
    All depts. in RI. except Cranston and Warwick use this for CPAT. They run their own but with slight variations. Gonzo hit it on the head and has a great idea to vary it. My dept has guys that are 45 that could outpace the 25 year olds and there are guys that couldn't pass it in 30 minutes. Fire Depts. have to pro-active with regards to fitness, not reactive by punishing individuals when there are no fitness programs in place to ensure wellness.
    "I have no ambition in this world but one, and that is to be a fireman. The position may, in the eyes of some, appear to be a lowly one; but we know the work which a fireman has to do believe that his is a noble calling."

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    Default Firefighter Combat Challenge

    To the gent that thought that this started out as a game, let me put you straight. The challenge was the end product of a federal research grant to develop a test, that used firefighting skills, to get onto FD's. It was determined that a 7:00 min time limit showed that you had proper physical fitness. A 5:00 min time was considered exceptional. Well as boys will be boys it got turned it a game. While the imes have gotten alot faster with a guy running 1:18.02 last year in Memphis at World Challenge X. So as you can see it started as a test and then became a game.

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    Cool

    We use it as a way of showing the public what we are all about. We hold it at the begining of Fire Awareness Week to kick off a bunch of other speicial events. It's all in friendly compatition among the companies in the township and several surronding communities. It tends to get a nice turnout from the people of the area and they really enjoy rooting for their and all the firefighters.
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    Default puffy....

    for the record puffy doll, in RI, the vest weighs 45lbs (even though they tell you its 30, I made them weigh it for me) and the dummy is 185-190 depending on which time of the year you take the test. I know cuz this chick passed the test in April in 5 minutes, (even though they dont have a vest smaller than XL, and the sledge handle comes up to my armpits!)
    The kicker is that none of the guys in my department had to take it. most are overweight and are not held to any standards. go figure.

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    Gonzo I used lowly firemen because that is how our administration looks down upon us. This may have started out as a federal test and became a game but it is now being used here as a punitive instrument against the members in suppression.
    I don't think anyone in the NOFD would think twice about doing the challenge if everyone was included, instead we have a system where a select group is exempt and all the rest have to prove themselves.

    The challenge in N.O. starts with carrying and attic ladder into the burn bldg. placing it in the ceiling opening and climbing up into the attic.Out the attic scuttle and across the roof and then down a 16 ft.roof ladder. Walk back to the starting line and pick up a smoke ejector and place it onto two brackets hanging from the top of the door.All this is down fully dressed out and with air-pac.This is one timed events(called job related skills) and the rest listed below is another timed events expected to be done in under 8 minutes after doing all this first.
    This starts our actual challenge.All done on the same day.
    From here you go to the training tower and pick up and place on your shoulder a 50 ft. length of folded 2 1/2" hose and proceed up to the sixth floor. Upon arrival you place the hose down adn walk over to the wall and proceed to pull a 50ft rolled up 2 1/2" up to the sixth floor and then lower it. Pick the other hose you carried up and haul it back down.

    Once on the ground you drop the hose and extend a 24 ft. extension ladder then on to the chop block which takes different strokes for different folks to complete. After this you walk around a cone about 25 ft away from the chopping station go over and pickup a charged 1 1/2" line and drag it 150 ft and discharge water. then you go over and drag the dummy 100 ft to the end.Now all this is timed.
    What does this prove by having members do all these task by themseleves and in such a short time frame is???? for what.

    But yet not everyone here has to prove that they are capable of measuring up to the challenge and as I stated before this is the one and only time you see the trainig school each year. And the real kicker is that the training officers (all Captains) aren't required to do the challenge but yet act like they have to watch you to make sure that your doing it to the letter of the law. Oops almost forgot to mention that after you do all this you then have to climb to the top of the 100 ft airiel ladder and then down. A nice little finishing touch i must say.We used to have to climb the airial before going to the training tower but now they save it until the end.

    This is what our arguement here is with the challenge.

    IF ITS GOOD ENOUGH FOR US THEN IT SHOULD BE GOOD ENOUGH FOR THEM.

    What ever happened to lead by example for it sure and the hell doesn't happen here in the NOFD.


    FFNOLA
    Last edited by capt945; 06-01-2002 at 01:56 AM.

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    What you are doing is not the Firefighters Combat Challenge.

    The "real" Combat Challenge is:

    Climbing a 5 story tower with a high rise pack of 1.5 inch hose.

    Drop the high rise pack, hoist a 50 foot length of 2 and a half.

    Go back down the stairs, making sure that each step is touched. You do not bring the high rise pack down with you!

    Using a 9 pound shot hammer, strike the steel beam of the Kaiser Force machine and move it 4 feet.

    Walk around a set of obstacles/cones.

    Pick up a charged 1.5" line, walk a short distance then open the nozzle, hitting the target.

    Dragging a 165 pound dummy 100 feet to the finish line!


    It sounds like some sadist was asked to design a test that was "somewhat" based on the challenge.

    Out of curiosity, FFNOLA how did you do on the NOFD test?
    Last edited by CaptainGonzo; 06-01-2002 at 09:11 AM.
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    Gonzo when I was young and dumb I used to hit it in around 4:05 but now that I'm a few years older and wiser I average about 5:30 now.
    Yes this is a bastardized version of the challenge and this is one of our main complaints along with the special groups that are exempt from doing this.
    I undersatnd from talking with some of the older brothers on the job that the resaon the M.F. Chief of The Year and his possie aren't required to do the challenge is that they don't have to go in and fight fires anymore.
    Well apparently the NOFD rank has forgotten about what can happen at a major incident i.e. NYC for example.Where all hands were put to good use.

    We here in N.O. just feel that a game is a game and lets get out in the field and do some serious training and not have this endurance contest to see who can be the first killed doing it.
    If its so great and beneficial then lets all do it.Lead me by example not my intimation.

    FFNOLA

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    Gonzo to add to your last question,after completing the challenge I am beat and leave from the school and go right back in service.
    Now I hope no one gets the idea that we don't want to train its just that we would like to see something constructive not destructive and demorailizing.
    My Captain has us train every tour worked with things that we actually need to know to do our job better and safer.

    FFNOLA

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    Up here in Canada, the Firefighters Challenge is a game or competition that is attended by many individuals and Depts on a purely volunteer basis. The same people who own it also run Firefit Canada which sells its program as a physical fitness test for firefighters. Our Dept is one of the few in North America which has instead adapted the Wellness and Fitness Initiative that is being touted by the IAFF. This is in my opinion an excellent program, but VERY expensive.If yor dept is shopping around for a fitness program, you should encourage them to check out this one, it is completely non-punitive, and peer driven.
    Last edited by Smoke286; 06-01-2002 at 11:00 PM.

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    Angry

    FFNOLA, this sounds like something you could file a grievance on w/ the union. If they are using this as a punitive action, it may be a NLRB violation. You could also raise the question of the injuries sustained by members in the course of the "test". It says to me that this "test" is unnecessarily dangerous to the participents. What good is there in an evaluation that places members out of service due to injury? If it is not administered to all who would be on a scene, (Chiefs on down)it would seem to me to be discrimatory in nature, also a NLRB violation.

    I would talk to your Steward and get some more information. I don't know how your contract reads, but I can't fathom this test having been accepted by the union as a condition of employment! I am not a union firefighter, I am a Vol. But I am a shop steward in the United Steelworkers Union where I work. I think that the union would be my first step in this matter. Let us know what happens!
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    Wayne its sad but true our local seems not to want to fight this battle for some reason?? The IAFF has information availabe about the problems caused by the challenge to members.
    The two brother FF from NOFD that filed suit did it on their own.I to believe that there is a case here but they had a judge rule on their suit and lost. The verdict was returned in only 30 minutes, only the Fire Dept. Physical Fitness Officer was allowed to testify and he hung it in us.
    Of course he was going to protect his job because if not then that means he'd have to go back in the firehouse and I think that scares the **** out of him.He testified that the test was fair and safe and that anyone should be able to do it. He admitted in court that NONE of the training officers are required to do it and that he had not done it in over 4 years himself.(What A guy)
    He then gave the judge a tape showing him doing the different phases of the challenge but no one knows if he did it in one session or was it done over time???
    Our local has sued and won and lost cases in this court before but never never have we ever recieved a judgement that fast. It makes you wonder just what kind of justice we recieved that day.


    FFNOLA

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    FFNOLA

    My uncle retired from the Flagstaff, Arizona FD about ten years ago. They had to perform the events of combat challenge as a part of their fitmess testing. The difference there was everyone took it from the Chief down! That Chief died a few years ago from cancer that was traced back to a fire that he fought when he was with the Phoenix FD. My uncle respected his chief, because he maintained the same physical standards as the personnel under his command and did not forget where he came from!
    ‎"The education of a firefighter and the continued education of a firefighter is what makes "real" firefighters. Continuous skill development is the core of progressive firefighting. We learn by doing and doing it again and again, both on the training ground and the fireground."
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    I NYS a career FF has 18 months to pass the IAFF/IAFC wellness test the Smoke mentioned. It requires a completion time of 10:30 or less. They only have to pass it once in their career. It is state mandated and administered. All FF's that were on the job when the program was instituted were grand fathered, so only new recruits are required to take it. Any test can be non-punitive and peer driven, you only need to administer it that way.

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    Default FFNOLA

    If your Local is to G-D*mn chicken to file this, I would call the sub-district or district director and light a fire under them(no pun intended!). This seems to me to be a example of the kind of crap that the Union is supposed to prevent!!

    If they (IAFF) won't do any thing, I would vote them out and get another union in there to handle things!! I just get a little worked up over union officials sitting on their a**es when there are injustices being suffered by their members!!
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    Fitguy, I'm not sure what program it is your refering to, but It's not the same as the one we did as it is not timed and is part of a yearly physical/medical.It may be the CPAT portion of the Initiatvie, I'm not familiar with that having come in the job before this was adapted.
    Heres a link to the program, check and see if thats the one your talking about.

    http://www.iaff.org/safe/content/wellness/index.htm

    BTW I understand the Calgary FD has dropped out of this program, due to costs
    Last edited by Smoke286; 06-02-2002 at 10:43 AM.

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    Wayne it'snot the IAFF thats dragging there feet it's our local officals.

    Smoke the IAFF CPAT would work here if they'd do it like its set up.
    1)Fitness Evaluation
    2)Medical Evaluation
    3)Rehabilitation
    4)Behaviorial Health
    5)Data Collection

    Right now we have none of this in place and every thing we do at the challenge is used to punish instead of assist and improve the health of our brother members.
    But one of the main problems here is that the bosses are exempt and seem to have forgotten where they came from.All these special little exempt groups just want to keep holding on to there little perk and don't want to be bothered with complaints about the have's and have nots of the challenge.
    But according to the Metro Fire Chief of The Year MORAIL is great and everyones happy. Well he's never in town long enough to see whats happening and doesn't want to hear about it either.


    FFNOLA

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    Smoke - The NYS test is the same one you referanced with that web address. I have never taken it so I can only talk about what I have read about it. I would like to try it to see how it compares with the Combat Challenge. This I can alk about 1st hand, as I am competing in it for my 10th season. Running just over 4:00 min. 'at almost 51 y/o.

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    I am a strong proponent of fitness requirements for firefighters. I am not, however, a proponent of ditching personnel who have experience because they can't pass the fitness evaluation without an attempt at remediating them first.

    I have mixed emotions about the Fitness Challenge myself. I found it to be accurate in that I was as winded after finishing it as I am when I have to make a rescue on an elevated story. In regard to it being accurate compared to what we do in the first minutes of a working fire (which is what we were told), my statement would be to ask how many people you have working on your fireground. We have not used the Fitness Challenge in four years; we use CPAT for hiring and we do medical monitoring and mandatory daily physical fitness training now.

    When we were using the Challenge, if someone was unable to complete it in the 8 minutes, they were put on light duty with mandatory PT. Ultimately, either they could do the job (which most people found to be the case when some meaningful remediation occurred) or they were put on disability. Despite what some of our "conspiracy theorists" say, we value our personnel here- it's more cost effective to remediate than it is to have to recruit, equip, and train a new employee.

    Good luck. Hope it all works out.
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    Smoke.. I thought Firefit had stopped running the program, maybe just here in BC, I don't know. It used to be that you set the test up through them if you wanted to attend Vermillion(fire academy).

    Anyway in Vancouver, they use the combat as 'part' of the physical test. The only real difference is the line you pull isn't charged, and you don't have to hit a target. You have to complete it in 5:30 or you don't pass. After you do it the first time to get hired you don't have to do it again. That being said, every shift drills, very often they have you doing drills that encompass parts of the combat. All the stations within loc 18 have workout equipment unless you are a probie you are given workout time and you are expected to use it.

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