T Nation

Attention Firefighters!


I am going apply to be a firefighter in one of the major cities in Texas (Houston, San Antonio, Dallas) during next year's recruitment period. Could you all please offer me any advice that you might have about the application process, physical training, or even just provide me with some further insight into the daily life of a firefighter.

*I have a training log titled 5/3/1 Log: Return to Basics


I have made the cut off for the San Antonio Fire Department's entrance exam and I am currently preparing for their CPAT. Do any firefighters have advice for how I should train for it? I am mostly concerned with improving my cardiovascular endurance for the 8 events.



with all honesty if youre in any form of decent shape, which im assuming you are since youre on TNation, youll do fine with the cpat.


Congrats on making that all important first cut!

However I don't agree with what fighting_fires said about the CPAT. Having done several versions of this test, including in full bunker gear on air it can be a grueling piece of a test.

The hardest part by far is the first three minutes. My advice for this part is to find a gym with the stepmill style of stairmaster in it (the kind with actual steps rolling on it). Get a backpack and load it with 50#'s. Set the stepmill for 60 steps per min and start climbing. You need to get to a point where you can do this for at least three min without touching the bars at all.

When do they have the practice day coming up? I can give more tips before then.


The stair master part of the CPAT is the killer. Being strong and in all around good shape isn't going to help as much as you'd think. If you go to the practice sessions you'll see how useless your legs are after the first time, but with regular training you'll get used to it in a few weeks. Get a backpack, fill it with weights or sandbags, and go climb some stairs or hills or something. The other events are a piece of cake after the stairs, but go the the practice sessions so you will at least some familiarity with what you're supposed to do, and what constitutes an instant fail. Don't be scared, just do what you can to get prepared.

If this is the first department you've applied to, don't get your hopes up. Getting becoming a career firefighter is like winning the lottery, unless you've got some strong inside pull. One thing that can help is sign up for ride alongs (plural) with the department you've applied to. Being a familiar face will help, if any of the officers on the interview panel have seen you around. Be friendly around the station, eat with the guys, help with the cooking or the dishes if they'll let you. Ask questions. Don't be a know it all or a douche.

Get some EMT/BLS training on the side as most departments are moving in the combined Fire/Rescue direction.


You want to know what it's like being a firefighter? You spend about 80% of your time responding to medical emergencies, so you're basically just an EMT in an expensive truck. Have fun performing mouth-to-mouth on some passed out bum.

You spend about 15% of your time maintaining your equipment and the station house. You spend about 3% of your time fighting fires, many of which are harmless little brush fires in unincorporated areas.

And for this, you get paid some inexorbitant amount of money, yet you'll probably only be "at work" for about 10 days out of the month. You are retired at age 50-55 with a great pension fund, which is probably draining your state's budget like it is in California.

But don't worry, you can still collect your pension even after you get another job, like teaching fire technology classes at the local community college where you eventually will be able to dip into another pension fund. And if for some reason you have to retire early due to a disability, even if it's not job-related, you get an even larger pension and enter the teaching field earlier. You could be lucky enough to get a job at the local airport, in which case the only fire you'll ever fight is if an airliner crashes.

I have a friend whose dad is currently making about 45K teaching fire tech full-time. He has a nice retirement package that the state pays into, he still collects a hefty pension fund check from his firefighting days. But he was a firefighter at the San Jose Airport and never fought a single fire in 30 years, yet he continues to collect that huge pension because of the inherent "danger" in the job he performed for 30 years.


How old are you and what is your current fitness level?


haters gonna hate




You sir, have absolutely no clue what you are talking about in regards to retirement for the Fire Service....especially when it pertains to CalPERS.....don't make blind claims about things that you only hear about on Political commercials and blatant one sided rants on why the CA economy is going south.


This is true. The ones we do here for testing into a dept. are not in full bunker gear, i could see that being hell. The stairs are the toughest part, i agree, but if its something youve put any time into i truly think youll be fine. do the stairs 2-3 times a week, our cpat is 75 lbs, as opposed to 50, just pointing out that it may be different, not being a prick. i do the stairs, for 6 mins then get on a treadmill with the weight still on, but dropped to 50 for 10 mins, because after the stairs they take 25 lbs off, for some reason getting on the treadmill after it seems reasonable to me. im by no means saying it is easy, but with some effort you should do fine.


you jelly?



Thanks Cooper I'll remember this when I'm at work over the next two days doing "nothing".


Enlighten me. I want it to happen for me.


A. SJ City fire doesn't even use CalPERS, they are on a private retirement system....so the state touches nothing of his retirement.

B. Contributions are made by both employer and employee for the duration of their employment. Typically 30 years. People who work for governments typically get paid jack s**t (some city government workers make out like a bandit though due to high cost of living, and thats up to the city or county who pays for their salary) and work so under those conditions with the hopes of retiring after 30 years of doing this job. That money gets invest by say CalPERS and appreciates based on the market and investments that they make. Once that person leaves....The state has nothing to do with them, they no longer pay for that employee, the money that they get from their pension was already spent and invested not because the state is still paying their wages....

C. To say that firefighters have it so cush, is....well.....dumb. Firefighters bust their butts day in and day out. They don't sit around eating bon bons and wait for airplanes to crash (as you say) and your friends dad most likely didn't just sit on his butt for 30 years in one station at SJ City either...Firefighters have to constantly be on edge, be away from their familys for days at a time.....weeks at a time, or months at a time in some cases (during busy fire seasons).. They work at least double the hours of a normal day to day desk job...On their off time they spend hours and hours in a classroom, or on the training grounds staying sharp. They work in the crappiest and most extreme conditions for not a whole lot of pay. I'd say that serving a community for 30 years deserves a little come thing back...

You are a troll and are just looking for responses by being a jerk, and I'm giving you one but I'm done with you. This guy is trying to get into a profession that he thinks he will be happy in and wants a little help and advice. Why do you have a to be a jerk?


Where in CO do you do absolutely nothing at work?


I'm in a dept on the north end of the Denver metro area.




The CPAT Workshops are on 10/18/10 thru 12/30/10 and the actual testing starts on 01/03/11.