Fire Recruit Physical Agility Test Overview

In order to be considered for selection, firefighter applicants must pass the physical agility test (PAT) conducted at the Any Fire Training Center (JP Fire Prevention Trainers and Consultants) for Example.

This test consists of a series of physical tasks, such as running or raising ladders, which closely approximates physical tasks routinely performed by firefighters on the job.  Most tasks are timed.

  1. Ladder Raise
  2. Rescue Drag
  3. Run
  4. Obstacle Course Run
  5. Stair Climb

Applicants are advised to prepare for the agility test for purposes of safety as well as to enhance their chance for a higher score.  With adequate preparation, the average healthy, fit individual should be able to complete the test safely and satisfactorily. During testing, all procedures will be explained in detail and demonstrated if necessary.

Check out this VIDEO from Raleigh Fire Department

Physical screening procedures meet the following criteria:

  1. they are job related
  2. they are not discriminatory on the basis of sex, race, age, etc.
  3. they represent what experts feel are the most crucial phases of firefighting and emergency medical activities and are indicative of a variety of firefighting and emergency tasks; and
  4. they are quantifiable. 

Scoring, Disqualification and Restrictions

Your score will be determined from the total time in seconds on all but one of the tests; the sit and reach test will be scored in inches.

A maximum time limit is imposed on all other test items.  This time limit is enforced merely to avoid a situation in which a candidate cannot complete a given task and/or rests for prolonged periods between attempts.  Exceeding the liberal time limit on any test item, or voluntary termination of any task before completion, results in disqualification.

If disqualified, the entire application process must be started over the next time the applicant applies.  Neither gloves nor shoes with cleats are allowed to be used during any task.  Applicants must pass each item in order to proceed to the next task.

Ladder Raise

Requirement: Raise a 24-ft aluminum ladder, extend /retract a 24-ft extension ladder
Grading: Time in seconds
Time Limit: 35 seconds
Job Relatedness: This task is performed regularly by firefighters.

To complete this station, you must complete two tasks:

  • Task 1 – Walk from a “Start” line, 12 feet, to the top rung of the 24-foot aluminum extension ladder. Lift the unhinged end of the ladder from the ground. Using every rung in a hand over hand fashion; walk the ladder up, until it is stationary against the wall. Both the applicant’s hands must touch the rung between the two marked rungs before proceeding to the next part of the task.
  • Task 2 – Move to the next ladder and stand with both feet within the marked box (36″ x 36″). Extend the fly section using the halyard; hand over hand, until it hits the stops. Then, lower the fly section hand over hand, in a controlled fashion to the starting position. The halyard must not slip through the applicant’s hands. The applicant’s time starts when the proctor announces “go,” and ends when the applicant steps out of the box in front of the second ladder.

Rescue Drag

Requirement: Drag 165-pound Rescue manikin a distance of 100 feet
Grading time: Time in seconds
Time Limit: 60 seconds
Job Relatedness: This test simulates a rescue procedure involving an unconscious individual.

This task requires grasping a 165-pound Rescue mannequin and dragging it a distance of 100 feet. Two parallel lines, 100 feet apart are marked on the ground. The applicant must drag the manikin from behind one line, to a location completely across the other line. The manikin is wearing a harness with loops in the shoulder area. The applicant may use the loops to drag the manikin, using one or two hands. The applicant may position the manikin and get ready; as long as no part of the manikin, or applicant, crosses the start line before the proctor tells the applicant they are able to start. Carrying the manikin is allowed.

The test should be completed without stopping. While stopping does not automatically disqualify an applicant, it will penalize him or her in terms of the seconds used to complete the task. Care and caution on this test event will help avoid injury and time penalties. Time begins when the applicant crosses the start line and ends when the end of the manikin crosses the finish line.


Requirement: Complete 1.5 mile run
Grading: Time in seconds
Time Limit: 15 minutes
Job Relatedness: This test gives an indirect assessment of aerobic power which has been shown to be one of the highest physical factors necessary for firefighters.

A distance of 1 ½ miles is marked off along roadway, and Greenway trails. Applicants pace themselves throughout the run, and attempt to complete the 1½ miles by starting from the starting point, and running to complete the course. Not following the designated course will result in disqualification from the employment process. A good performance has been established as a time of 12 minutes or less. Care and caution on this test event will help avoid injury and time penalties.

Obstacle Course Run

Requirement: Complete three full circuits
Grading: Time in seconds
Time Limit: 4:15 minutes
Job Relatedness: Shows physical agility, strength, endurance, and aerobic capacity.

The obstacle course requires physical agility, strength, endurance, and aerobic capacity. The Obstacle Course Run includes:

  • The Serpentine Run – The applicant runs around three cones, in a serpentine fashion. The end cones are spaced 30 feet apart with one cone in between; the proper direction is marked with arrows painted on the concrete.
  • The Simulated Hose Drag – The applicant stands inside the rear square of two adjacent and identical 4 foot by 4 foot squares marked with paint on the ground. The applicant must remain entirely inside the rear square. A hose (approximately 40′ long), with a tire attached to the opposite end is pulled; hand over hand, in a controlled fashion. The tire must be pulled so it rests completely inside the 4 foot by 4 foot square, located in front of the applicant.
  • The Equipment Carry – The applicant lifts a chainsaw and a K-12 saw by the handles from an elevated compartment. The equipment must be carried around a cone located 30 feet away from the start box, and must be carried around the cone in the direction of arrows marked on the concrete. Both pieces of equipment must then be placed so that at least one part of both the motors are inside, or touching the start box (5 feet wide by one foot deep). Both saws must be returned to the compartment on the third time around the course.
  • The Kaiser Force Machine Prop – The applicant must strike a beam with a dead blow hammer, simulating swinging a fire axe. The applicant must move the beam a set distance during each circuit of the obstacle course.
  • The Pipe Crawl – The applicant crawls/slides through a 20-foot long pipe which is 24 inches in diameter. A 90° bend must be navigated and is located half-way through the pipe. At least one foot must be placed on the entrance pad at the beginning of the pipe before entering, no diving into pipe is allowed.

Each event is performed per circuit; three consecutive circuits are required. Care and caution on this test event will help avoid injury and time penalties. Long
pants or sweat pants are required, and must be worn to participate in
the Obstacle Course portion of the Physical Agility Testing process
; shorts may be worn for the 1 ½ mile run.

Stair Climb

Requirement: While wearing a 50-pound weighted vest, move up four flights of stairs to the fifth floor landing.
Grading: Time in seconds
Time Limit: 30 seconds
Job Relatedness: This test simulates the act of carrying full gear to upper stories in a building for firefighting or rescue activities.

The applicant lifts, dons vest, and stands at the start position. At the command “go”; time starts, and the applicant climbs five flights of stairs while wearing the vest. Time is stopped when both feet reach the 4th floor landing. The applicant then carries the vest back down so that it is ready for the next applicant.


Applicants are advised to consult their personal physician before starting a self-preparation training program and before participating in the agility test. The City does not accept liability for physical or medical conditions experienced by applicants as a result of the agility test. Each applicant must sign a statement accepting personal liability for such conditions before being permitted to participate in the agility test.

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