Physical Fitness Selection Tests

Firefighter applicants who have been successful at the online assessments will be required to attend physical tests.

To meet the physical demands required of an operational firefighter you will need to be able to meet the levels of physical performance demands that operational tasks place upon the body.

The assessments that we use help to ensure the health and wellbeing of all potential and current members of our team. It’s strongly advised that you assess yourself before attending a selection day and that you train to ensure you are above the minimum standards required.

Each of the physical tests will require the application of both physical and psychological skills.

Full details are included below.

Stage 1:  Predictive Aerobic Assessment

Multi-stage Fitness Test (MSFT-20M) – Wholetime selection only

The MSFT-20m is an incremental predictive assessment of an individual’s aerobic capacity. Predictive screening is conducted to ensure that an aerobic capacity level of 41.8 ml·kg-1·min-1 is achieved, which indicates that an individual has the potential to pass the “Breath-by-Breath” assessment and is safe to conduct the other physical tests.

The MSFT-20 requires an individual to run between two cones / markers spaced 20m apart. The timing is set by a beep that increases in speed per level. The applicant must ensure they make the 20m marker before the next beep starts. A total of two warnings will be given for missed beeps and on the third missed beep the individual will be removed from the test. The minimum standard required to continue to the next part of testing is level 8.7.

Stage 2: Strength based assessments.

Overhead barbell press (30kg)

To assess upper body strength (Upper Back and Shoulder) an applicant is required to lift a barbell totalling 30kg from chest height to full extension. Understanding upper body strength is essential to ensure that an individual can carry out operational tasks, such as the manoeuvring and pitching of a 13.5m ladder or handling objects above shoulder height at operational incidents.

The applicant will be required to complete an overhead barbell press using a straight barbell with a weight of 30kg. The applicant will be asked to take up the bar at shoulder height and push the bar overhead and then lower again to chest height safely.  This assessment will be completed in one-rep max phases starting at 20kg and moving up in 5kg increments until the standard of 30kg is reached or the participant fails to complete the lifts. No push through the leg is allowed.


Stage 3 Functional Firefighter Role Based Assessments

Ladder Climb Assessment (13.5m)

This assessment is to ensure an individual has the physical and psychological ability to work at height. The applicant is required to ascend a fully extended 13.5m ladder to two-thirds of the full working height. The applicant must then take a leg lock, remove hands from the ladder and look down to the assessor to identify the symbol placed flat on the ground at the foot of the ladder. The applicant will then be asked to remove themselves from the leg lock and correctly descend the ladder. Ascending and descending the ladder must be conducted by using the correct climbing technique, ‘using opposite legs and arms when moving up or down the ladder’, and when reaching the foot of the ladder the applicant must not step on the support bar at the foot of the ladder. Before the test commences a brief will be given with all the instruction require, there will be an opportunity at this point to ask any questions.

*Individuals will be always secured with a safety harness.

Manual Dexterity Assessment

The manual dexterity assessment reviews an individual’s ability to follow instructions, work under time pressure and to assess hand eye co-ordination. The assessment simulates an operational scenario in which an individual would be required to work under time pressure with fire service equipment. The assessment requires the applicant to assemble and dissemble a piece of equipment in order of the instructions given and within the time limit of 5 minutes and 8 seconds.

Casualty Evacuation (55kg)

The casualty evacuation is a simulation assessment that reviews an individual’s leg and lower back strength, alongside muscular endurance, core strength and coordination to safely manoeuvre (drag) a 55kg casualty over 30m. The applicant must always walk backwards to pass the assessment, and this simulation must be completed in 41 seconds.

Enclosed Space Assessment

To Enclosed Space assessment reviews an individual’s physical and psychological ability to work in a confined space with no lighting. The assessment simulates a breathing apparatus wear in dark and dangerous conditions, such as a building collapse in a search and rescue task. The assessment will require the applicant to wear a breathing apparatus face mask and navigate a safe, predetermined route and clear obstacles by using sensory skills. This assessment must be completed in 5 minutes.

Functional Firefighting Simulation Assessment

The Functional Firefighting Simulation assessment is a review of upper and lower body muscular strength and endurance, alongside aerobic endurance, and coordination in a functional setting. The simulation test uses operational equipment in a simulation scenario-based task to assess your physical performance. The assessment will be conducted over a total of 550m in 25m shuttles, whilst walking, jogging, and running with operational kit. This assessment must be completed within 5 minutes and 37 seconds.

The applicant must perform the following tasks (along a 25m shuttle course) 1. Drag a hose (15kg) from the reel on appliance for 25m 2. Jog back 25m, pick up and carry 2×70mm coiled hoses (2×15kg), placing them at 100m, 3. Run out the one placed hose (25m), jog back 75m to appliance 4. Pick up and carry 2.4m 100mm suction hose (12kg) and basket (4.4kg) 100m, jog back 100m to appliance, pick up and carry LPP simulator (33kg) 100m.

Stage 4

Direct Aerobic Capacity Assessment ‘Maximal Breath by Breath Assessment’ Ramp Protocol

The breath-by-breath assessment is the final physical assessment that an applicant will conduct. This assessment allows the service to gain an in-depth understanding about an individuals maximal capacity to physically perform aerobically. The assessment is an incremental (Speed and incline) maximal exercise test which will be performed on a treadmill and will measure a candidate’s aerobic capacity. There are no minimum or maximal markers you need to get to on this assessment in terms of distance, speed or time, as the applicant will be required to complete the test until exhaustion. Data will then be taken from the test, and a VO2max (ml·kg-1·min-1 ) score will be given. A value of 42.3 ml·kg-1·min-1 is required to successfully pass this assessment.

*This test for the wholetime process will take place after the interviews and on the same day as medical assessment.

The breath-by-breath assessment is the final physical assessment that an applicant will conduct. This assessment allows the service to gain an in-depth understanding about an individual’s maximal capacity.

The applicant will be required to complete a health screening form prior to attending and physical screening will be conducted by the Exercise Physiologist on the day of testing (Blood pressure, Height, and Weight).

Weight is a key variable, as it will allow a later calculation to establish a relative aerobic capacity volume.

The applicant will be fitted with a heart rate monitor to ensure sure safety throughout the test, and to allow heart rate data to be recorded.

A sealed face mask will be fitted to measure the volumes and gas concentrations of inspired and expired air.

The applicant will then start the incremental maximal exercise test which will be performed on a treadmill and will measure a candidate’s aerobic capacity, ever minute speed and incline will be increased.

Throughout the test all variables will be monitored, and a rate of perceived effort will be asked at the end of every level to establish the intensity of the workload.

The test will conclude at physical exhaustion of the individual this occurs when the individual can no longer keep up with the work rate required.

A cooldown will then be conducted whilst the data is analysed.

A score will be established in a relative value, millilitres per kilogram of body weight, per minute (ml·kg-1·min-1) with a score of 42.3 ml·kg-1·min-1 required to pass this stage of the process.