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Thursday, November 18, 2010

Hiring and Testing Process Continues with Candidate Physical Agility Test

MEDIA CONTACT: Mark E. Brady, Chief Spokesperson, 240-508-7930, mebrady@co.pg.md.us

The job of a Firefighter/Medic is one of the most physically demanding with new recruits never making it through the training academy. Recruits leaving the academy and injuries caused as a result of training cost the County an untold amount of money, not to mention, leaving the recruit class and the Department with a shortage of available personnel. The Prince George’s County Fire/Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Department (PGFD) is administering the Candidate Physical Ability Test (CPAT) for the first time as a condition of hire. The hiring process for the position of Fire Fighter/Medic began earlier this year when over 3000 applications were received for a projected 94 positions. A written test and preliminary background checks were performed in August and of those successfully surviving the process so far, there will be approximately 400 candidates provided the opportunity to move on and test at the next level. The Candidate Physical Ability Test measures the capabilities of firefighting recruits along eight job-specific areas.


Previously the Fire/EMS Department used our own version of a physical agility test. PGFD obtained the required license and is requiring successful completion of CPAT for candidates to continue in the hiring process. Fire Fighter/Medic Lieutenant Bill Bussing, the Departments Wellness/Fitness Coordinator, stated, “Through this process we will hire recruits that are physically fit to complete the rigorous demands of the Fire/EMS Training Academy. What we have invested in CPAT will be returned by having recruits being physically fit to do the job while reducing the number of injuries and the drop-out rate from the academy that hurts the Department fiscally.” Additional benefits of CPAT are the protections of a National Standard License that complies with a Federal EEOC conciliation agreement and hiring processes.

Fire Fighter/Medic Katherine Fisher, an instructor at the Fire/EMS Training Academy, stated, “The PGFD will ensure that all candidates are provided full and equal access to the CPAT Conditioning, Orientation, and Timed Practice Run Program to enable the best chance for success when taking the CPAT. During this program, candidates are given the opportunity to view test events, talk with qualified professionals/instructors, and physically examine and use test equipment, tools, and props in a controlled and consistent setting.”

Fire Major Richard M. Lambdin, coordinator of the overall hiring process, stated, "Candidates have the opportunity to familiarize themselves with all elements of CPAT and take advantage of the Physical Fitness and Conditioning Sessions made available to them by PGFD Peer Fitness Trainers and personnel. Participation at these events are highly recommended." The Department offered three CPAT orientation sessions with the first timed CPAT scheduled for mid-late November 2010. The anticipated hire date is the first of the year.

The job of a firefighter /medic is one of the most physically demanding jobs and requires high levels of cardiopulmonary endurance, muscular strength and muscular endurance. The CPAT consists of eight critical physical tasks that simulate actual job duties on the fire ground. This test is physically demanding and requires that candidates be physically fit to be successful. This test is intended to ensure successful candidates are of the highest caliber expected by the citizens of the Prince Georges County who make the significant investment in a Firefighter/Medic’s career. The results are an indication of a lifestyle that further ensures optimal physical performance for life and a career in the fire and emergency medical service in Prince George’s County.

We would like to acknowledge and thank the Anne Arundel County Fire Department and Fire Chief John Ray for allowing us to utilize their CPAT facility in Millersville.

CPAT OVERVIEW

Candidates are given a standard maximum time of 10 minutes, 20 seconds to successfully complete the CPAT. A hard hat, gloves, and 50 pound weight vest are worn throughout every event of CPAT.

Event 1 – Stair Climb

Equipment

This event uses a Step Mill stair-climbing machine. The machine is positioned with one side up against a wall and an elevated proctor platform on the side opposite the wall. A single handrail on the wall side is available for the candidate to grasp while mounting and dismounting the Step Mill. Additional steps are placed at the base of the Step Mill to assist the candidate in mounting the Step Mill.

Purpose of Event

This event is designed to simulate the critical tasks of climbing stairs in full protective clothing while carrying a high-rise pack (hose bundle) and climbing stairs in full protective clothing carrying fire fighter equipment. This event challenges the candidate’s aerobic capacity, lower body muscular endurance and ability to balance. This event affects the candidate’s aerobic energy system as well as the following muscle groups: quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, calves, and lower back stabilizers.

Event Description

For this event, the candidate must wear two 12.5-pound weights on the shoulders of the 50 pound weight vest to simulate the weight of a high-rise pack. Prior to the initiation of the timed CPAT, there is a 20-second warm-up on the Step Mill at a set stepping rate of 50 steps per minute. During this warm-up period, the candidate is permitted to dismount, grasp the rail or hold the wall to establish balance and cadence. If a candidate falls or dismounts the Step Mill during the 20-second warm-up period, the candidate must remount the Step Mill and restart the entire 20-second warm-up period. The candidate is allowed to restart the warm-up period twice. The timing of the test begins at the end of this warm-up period when the proctor calls the word “START.” There is no break in time between the warm-up period and the actual timing of the test. For the test, the candidate must walk on the Step Mill at a set stepping rate of 60 steps per minute for three minutes. This concludes the event. The two 12.5-pound weights are removed from the shoulders. Walk 85 feet within the established walkway to the next event.

Event 2 – Hose Drag

Equipment

This event uses an uncharged fire hose with a hose line nozzle. The hose line is marked at 8 feet past the coupling at the nozzle to indicate the maximum amount of hose the candidate is permitted to drape across the shoulder or chest. The hose line is also marked at 50 feet past the coupling at the nozzle to indicate the amount of hose line that the candidate must pull into a marked boundary box before completing the test.

Purpose of Event

This event is designed to simulate the critical tasks of dragging an uncharged hose line from the fire apparatus to the fire occupancy and pulling an uncharged hose line around obstacles while remaining stationary. This event challenges the candidate’s aerobic capacity, lower body muscular strength and endurance, upper back muscular strength and endurance, grip strength and endurance, and anaerobic endurance. This event affects the candidate’s aerobic and anaerobic energy systems as well as the following muscle groups: quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, calves, lower back stabilizers, biceps, deltoids, upper back, and muscles of the forearm and hand (grip).

Event

For this event, the candidate must grasp a hose line nozzle attached to 200 feet of 1-3/4 inch hose. Place the hose line over the shoulder or across the chest, not exceeding the 8-foot mark. The candidate is permitted to run during the hose drag. Drag the hose 75-feet to a pre-positioned drum, make a 90-degree turn around the drum, and continue an additional 25 feet. Stop within the marked 5-foot by 7-foot box, drop to at least one knee and pull the hose line until the hose line’s 50-foot mark crosses the finish line. During the hose pull, the candidate must keep at least one knee in contact with the ground and knee(s) must remain within the marked boundary lines.

Event 3 – Equipment Carry

Equipment

This event uses two saws and a tool cabinet replicating a storage cabinet on a fire truck.

Purpose of Event

This event is designed to simulate the critical tasks of removing power tools from a fire apparatus, carrying them to the emergency scene and returning the equipment to the fire apparatus. This event challenges the candidate’s aerobic capacity, upper body muscular strength and endurance, lower body muscular endurance, grip endurance, and balance. This event affects the candidate’s aerobic energy system as well as the following muscle groups: biceps, deltoids, upper back, trapezius, muscles of the forearm and hand (grip), glutes, quadriceps, and hamstrings.

Event

For this event, the candidate must remove the two saws from the tool cabinet, one at a time, and place them on the ground. Pick up both saws, one in each hand, and carry them while walking 75 feet around the drum, then back to the starting point. The candidate is permitted to place the saw(s) on the ground to adjust grip. Upon return to the tool cabinet, place the saws on the ground, pick up each saw one at a time, and replace the saw in the designated space in the cabinet.

Event 4 – Ladder Raise and Extension

Equipment

This event uses two 24-foot fire department ladders. For the candidate’s safety, a retractable lanyard is attached to the ladder that the candidate’s raise.

Purpose of Event

This event is designed to simulate the critical tasks of placing a ground ladder at a fire structure and extending the ladder to the roof or window. This event challenges the candidate’s aerobic capacity, upper body muscular strength, lower body muscular strength, balance, grip strength, and anaerobic endurance. This event affects the candidate’s aerobic and anaerobic energy systems as well as the following muscle groups: biceps, deltoids, upper back, trapezius, muscles of the forearm and hand (grip), glutes, quadriceps, and hamstrings.

Event

For this event, the candidate must walk to the top rung of the 24-foot aluminum extension ladder, lift the unhinged end from the ground, and walk it up until it is stationary against the wall. This must be done in a hand over hand fashion, using each rung until the ladder is stationary against the wall. The candidate must not use the ladder rails to raise the ladder. Immediately proceed to the pre-positioned and secured 24-foot aluminum extension ladder, stand with both feet within the marked box of 36 inches by 36 inches, and extend the fly section hand over hand until it hits the stop.

Event 5 – Forcible Entry

Equipment

This event uses a mechanized device located 39 inches off the ground that measures cumulative force and a 10-pound sledgehammer.

Purpose of Event

This event is designed to simulate the critical tasks of using force to open a locked door or to breach a wall. This event challenges the candidate’s aerobic capacity, upper body muscular strength and endurance, lower body muscular strength and endurance, balance, grip strength and endurance, and anaerobic endurance. This event affects the candidate’s aerobic and anaerobic energy systems as well as the following muscle groups: quadriceps, glutes, triceps, upper back, trapezius, and muscles of the forearm and hand (grip).

Event

For this event, the candidate must use a 10-pound sledgehammer to strike the measuring device in the target area until the buzzer is activated. During this event, candidates must keep their feet outside the toe-box at all times.

Event 6 – Search

Equipment

This event uses an enclosed search maze that has obstacles and narrowed spaces.

Purpose of Event

This event is designed to simulate the critical task of searching for a fire victim with limited visibility in an unpredictable area. This event challenges the candidate’s aerobic capacity, upper body muscular strength and endurance, agility, balance, anaerobic endurance, and kinesthetic awareness. This event affects the candidate’s aerobic and anaerobic energy systems as well as the following muscle groups: muscles of the chest, shoulder, triceps, quadriceps, abdominals, and lower back.

Event

For this event, the candidate must crawl through a tunnel maze that is approximately 3 feet high, 4 feet wide and 64 feet in length with two 90-degree turns. At a number of locations in the tunnel, the candidate must navigate around, over, and under obstacles. In addition, at two locations, the candidate must crawl through a narrowed space where the dimensions of the tunnel are reduced. The candidate’s movement is monitored through a narrowed space where the dimensions of the tunnel are reduced. The candidate’s movement is monitored through the maze. If for any reason, the candidate chooses to end the event, the candidate may call out or rap sharply on the wall or ceiling and the candidate will be assisted out of the maze.

Event 7 – Rescue

Equipment

This event uses a weighted mannequin equipped with a harness and shoulder handles.

Purpose of Event

This event is designed to simulate the critical task of removing a victim or injured partner from a fire scene. This event challenges the candidate’s aerobic capacity, upper and lower body muscular strength and endurance, grip strength and endurance, and anaerobic endurance. This event affects the candidate’s aerobic and anaerobic energy systems as well as the following muscle groups: quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, abdominals, torso rotators, lower back stabilizers, trapezius, deltoids, latissimus dorsi, biceps, and muscles of the forearm and hand (grip).

Event

For this event, the candidate must grasp a 165-pound mannequin by the handle(s) on the shoulder(s) of the harness (either one or both handles are permitted), drag it 35 feet to a pre-positioned drum, make a 180 degree turn around the drum, and continue an additional 35 feet to the finish line. The candidate is not permitted to grasp or rest on the drum. It is permissible for the mannequin to touch the drum. Candidates are permitted to drop and release the mannequin and adjust their grip. The entire mannequin must be dragged until it crosses the marked finish line.

Event 8 – Ceiling Breach and Pull

Equipment

This event uses a mechanized device that measures overhead push and pull forces and a pike pole. The pike pole is a commonly used piece of equipment that consists of a 6-foot long pole with a hook and a point attached to one end.

Purpose of Event

This event is designed to simulate the critical task of breaching and pulling down a ceiling to check for fire extension. This event challenges the candidate’s aerobic capacity, upper and lower body muscular strength and endurance, grip strength and endurance, and anaerobic endurance. This event affects the candidate’s aerobic and anaerobic energy systems as well as the following muscle groups: quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, abdominals, torso rotators, lower back stabilizers, deltoids, trapezius, triceps, biceps, and muscles of the forearm and hand (grip).

Event

For this event, the candidate must remove the pike pole from the bracket, stand within the boundary established by the equipment frame, and place the tip of the pole on the painted area of the hinged door in the ceiling. Fully push up the 60-pound hinged door in the ceiling with the pike pole three times. Then, hook the pike pole to the 80-pound ceiling device and pull the pike pole down five times. Each set consists of three pushes and five pulls. Repeat the set four times. Candidates are permitted to stop and, if needed, adjust their grip. Releasing the grip or allowing the pike pole handle to slip, without the pike pole falling to the ground, does not result in a warning or constitute a failure. Candidates are permitted to re-establish their grip and resume the event. If the candidate does not successfully complete a repetition, the proctor calls out “MISS” and the candidate must push or pull the apparatus again to complete the repetition. This event and the total test time end when the candidate completes the final pull stroke repetition as indicated by a proctor who calls out “TIME.”


Event 1 – Stair Climb

Event 2 – Hose Drag


Event 5 – Forcible Entry


Instructor explains Event 6 – Search



 


Event 7 – Rescue



Event 3 – Equipment Carry



Event 6 – Search



Event 8 – Ceiling Breach and Pull




Instructor demonstrates Event 5 – Forcible Entry






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