Fire/Rescue Assessment 2.0 – Fire Crew Feedback & Additional Testers Wanted

We recently asked for feedback on an update to our Urban Fire/Rescue Assessment. Several firefighter crews completed the assessment, and provided valuable feedback listed below. But first, here’s a recap of the proposed assessment:

Equipment: SCBA, Turnout Gear, Sandbag @ 40/60#, Step Up Box or Bench

Complete the following movements as quickly as possible in your SCBA and Turnout Gear:

  1. 4x 25m Shuttle Run carrying a 40/60# Sandbag. Drop and pick up at each turnaround point
  2. 10x Sandbag Clean and Press @ 40/60#
  3. 20x Sandbag Step Ups @ 40/60#
  4. 25m All Fours Sandbag Forward Drag @ 40/60# (Note: The linked video demo is the reverse drag. Simply do the same movement forward, but crawling forward and pulling the bag with you)
  5. 25m All Fours Sandbag Reverse Drag @ 40/60#

Overall Results

  • As we expected, this assessment was completed between 5-10 minutes, with individual outliers on either side. Feedback from crews was positive… a tough assessment that captured the physical requirements of the job.

Issues Identified

  • Some departments only have one set of turnouts, which creates issues with responsiveness and carcinogen exposure.
  • Many departments don’t have additional training packs or in-house SCBA bottle refilling units, which means a crew is down one bottle per participant on the engine or truck.
  • One crew noted an issue with the Sandbag Clean and Press knocking the lid of the helmet. This is also a problem if a firefighter is ‘on air’ and getting tangled with the air hose/regulator.
  • Another crew noted that sandbag loading should be the same regardless of gender. “The fire doesn’t care.”

Potential Solutions

  • If a crew has a extra set of turnouts for training purposes, use them. If not, a 25# weight vest will suffice to meet the demand of working under load. It’s not perfect, but training restrictions will vary and we need to recognize that.
  • A single scoring assessment based on time to complete. Ultimately we don’t expect much of a difference if a firefighter completes the assessment on air or off. On air provides a valuable training insight on air consumption for the individual and we would encourage you to do so if possible.
  • Single loading… no male/female adjustment
  • Replace the Clean and Press with a Sandbag Clean

Next Steps & Testing

We’ve made a few small revisions to the assessment based on feedback. We want to conduct a second round of testing. Want to participate? Below is the revised assessment and data points requested. Feel free to conduct and send results to

  • Age
  • Experience (years on the job)
  • Height
  • Weight
  • Time to complete the assessment
  • Annotate if the assessment was conducted with turnouts/scba on, or a weight vest
  • Air used from SCBA (If completed on air)

Revised Assessment – Wearing turnouts or a 25# weight vest + SCBA Pack

  1. 4x 25m Shuttle Run carrying a 60# Sandbag. Drop and pick up at each turnaround point
  2. 10x Sandbag Clean @ 60#
  3. 20x Sandbag Step Ups @ 60# on a 16-18″ Box
  4. 25m All Fours Sandbag Forward Drag @ 60# (Note: The linked video demo is the reverse drag. Simply do the same movement, but crawling forward and pulling the bag with you)
  5. 25m All Fours Sandbag Reverse Drag @ 60#

Fire Athlete Feedback

Overall, great assessment.
It took me just under 8 min, sucked pretty much the whole way.
A couple notes-
SB weight should be the same for all candidates. Separate weights for M/F is, in my book, a non-starter. It brings up a whole host of issues and sets the candidates using the lighter weight up for failure. The CPAT (current standard test for entry) is the same for everyone, so it wouldn’t make sense to have this use different weights.
Most importantly, the fire doesn’t care.
Doing it in gear- I see the logic, and don’t disagree. That said, concerns are not so much about going on a call (although some will no want to respond in sweaty gear), but there is a strong cancer prevention push lately, and many FF’s (and admin) will not want to increase their exposure to carcinogens, PFAS, etc unnecessarily by wearing gear when they don’t have to. While I don’t have a good enough understanding of the subject to offer an opinion either way, I know that it will meet resistance (whether there’s an actual concern, or it is simply utilized as a convenient argument). Alternatively, a 50-75lb weight vest would add the additional physiologic stress to get you close.

We had most of our firehouse run through it last shift.

Times ranged from 4:07 to 10:40. We thought it was a fair assessment for what you describe…making the stretch and fire attack, primary search, victim rescue.

We are a large, resource-rich department. Most stations have spare packs and cylinders available. Training in gear is not a barrier to call response for us. If we are delayed to a call due to training…that’s just the cost of doing business. 

We think most strength/endurance components needed are baked into the assessment. The biggest con we experienced was the sandbag clean and press. The sandbag during the press portion has a tendency to get hung up on the face piece and helmet lid. Stronger guys can work around it. It really sucked for weaker individuals who lost momentum on the press.

Overall we liked it – simple, minimal logistics and similar work capacity hit as a first due working fire.

We used a 60# sandbag and did it all on air with full gear and SCBA.

Our times ranged from 6:06-9:53. 

For the 25 run we did this on our shoulder, I am not sure if this is the standard or if it is up to the individual for form/position they prefer.

Overall this was a great assessment. Our guys all agreed you got to that dark place fairly quickly and the clean and press is where you really started to feel it. 

Another interesting data point we use when doing “bottle consumption drills” is how much air is used. As FFs we need to be able to perform the skills quickly and efficiently but we also need to be able to control our breathing as a means to extend our working time (duration before we run out of air). 

Two of us used the same 5500 psi 45 min bottle each using about half the bottle during our assessments. Our new guy finished in 9:53 and got to his viber alert and had about 2000 psi and I did not record our last guy. Bodyweights ranged from 140 (6:53), 160 (6:06), 170 (9:53), 250 (8:35).

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