Naperville Fire Department Begins Offering Candidate Physical Ability Test (CPAT)

Naperville is now one of only four locations in the State of Illinois licensed to test the physical ability of firefighter candidates looking for employment.

The Candidate Physical Ability Test (CPAT) is a standardized test that many departments nationwide, including the Naperville Fire Department, require during the application process as a predictor of an applicant’s ability to perform basic firefighting tasks. Until recently, the test was only administered at three Illinois locations — Decatur, Glenview and Indian Head Park. Naperville began to administer the CPAT at 1200 West Ogden Avenue in January 2017.

The cost of the Candidate Physical Ability Test is $150 each time a candidate challenges the test. This fee includes an orientation, up to two optional practice tests, and one test. This non-refundable fee should be made payable to the “City of Naperville” by check or money order.

“Our fire department, along with many others throughout the United States, places a great deal of importance on this test as a way to recruit quality candidates. We’re pleased to be able to house a test site in Naperville to potentially give some applicants a more convenient test location as well as the opportunity to train for this test with skilled Naperville firefighters as their proctors.”

— Naperville Fire Chief Mark Puknaitis

The Candidate Physical Ability Test consists of eight activities, which candidates must complete in less than 10 minutes and 20 seconds while wearing a hard hat, gloves and a weighted vest to simulate the weight of firefighting equipment. Exercises include a stair climb, hose drag, equipment carry, ladder raise and extension, forcible entry, search, rescue and ceiling breach and pull. Success is measured on a pass/fail basis.

CPAT Firefighter Candidate Requirements

Stair Climb (climbing stairs while carrying an additional 25 pound simulated hose pack)

Hose Drag (stretching uncharged hoselines, advancing lines)

Equipment Carry (removing and carrying equipment from fire apparatus to fireground)

Ladder Raise & Extension (placing a ground ladder at the fire scene and extending the ladder to the roof or a window)

Forcible Entry (penetrating a locked door, breaching a wall)

Search (crawling through dark unpredictable areas to search for victims)

Rescue (removing victim or partner from a fire building)

Ceiling Breach & Pull (locating fire and checking for fire extension)

To ensure that all candidates have an equal opportunity to succeed, the CPAT includes an orientation and mentoring process that begins eight weeks prior to the test. This process involves an explanation of the test and its physical demands, recommendations of training and conditioning drills, and an opportunity to preview and practice the exercises with trained proctors.

More information about the CPAT program in Naperville and how to register for the first session, which begins with an orientation on February 18 and culminates with a final test on April 9, can be found at

CPAT Orientation from Los Angeles County Fire Department (not confirmed to be exactly the same as the Naperville Fire Department CPAT, but probably the same or very similar).

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