Physical Ability Test

Notice:  The testing process and sequence of events are subject to change. Candidates must consult the applicant packet at the time of submission for the most current requirements. The information provided below is offered as a general example and may not be specific to the test administered.


The Physical Ability Test (PAT) is the current assessment tool used by the Charleston Fire Department to evaluate a candidate’s level of physical fitness.  Candidates must successfully complete all stations in 12:01 (twelve minutes, one second) in order to receive a passing score.

 The PAT is a PASS/FAIL event – candidates are not ranked according to completion time. 

 During each hiring cycle, every effort is made to give candidates the opportunity to join a practice day in advance of the live testing date.  This gives individuals without fire service experience an opportunity to see what each station looks like, how all equipment feels and to have an opportunity to practice any or all components of the PAT. 

In the Physical Ability Test, candidates are asked to perform several tasks similar to those performed by Firefighters on the job. Candidates must complete the test within the time frame pre-determined by the Fire Department and the test is pass/fail. A completed Medical Clearance and Disclaimer of Liability (PDF) form is required in order to participate in the physical ability test.

Please review the information below and view the following video:  Physical Ability Test Video

Events in the Physical Ability Test

  1. Dry Hose Deployment - Advanced dry pre-connect hose line 150’ (hose is advanced 50’ around 1 corner, 50’ around second corner, advanced final 50’ around third corner for completion. 
  2. Charged Hose Deployment - Advanced pre-connected charged hose line approximately 70 feet through a simulated doorway.  Once at the second simulated doorway, the candidate will stoop progressively lower for the remaining distance.  
  3. Ladder Raise – Raise a 24’ extension ladder from the ground until it rests securely on the building.  
  4. Halyard Raise - Raise 24’ extension ladder with halyard to full extension and back down.  
  5. Roof walk - Candidate ascends and descends a 10-foot distance walking/crawling on the rungs of a 14-foot roof ladder while carrying a simulated chainsaw.  This event simulates walking on a roof ladder with the appropriate equipment in order to perform ventilation operations  
  6. Attic Crawl - Crawl on attic joist through a low clearance area with a simulated flash light.   
  7. Roof Ventilation - Candidate stands on a pitched roof and strikes an area 30 times with a 10-pound sledge hammer. The hammer must go over the head and tool must be replaced after 30 strikes.  
  8. Victim Removal - Candidate carries or drags an approximately 165-pound dummy for approximately 26 feet. This event simulates removing an injured or unconscious victim from a hazardous area.    
  9. Stair Climb with Hose Carry - Carry 50’ of 2.5” hose up to the 4th floor and place it in the designated area.   
  10.  Crawling search - On the 4th floor, crawl on hands and knees around 4 cones approximately 45 feet, pick up the hose from event eight and return it to the first floor.   
  11. Stair Climb with Equipment & Hose Hoist - Carry 2 cylinders connected by webbing to the 3rd floor and place them in a designated area. Hoist 100’ of uncharged 1.88” hose up onto the 3rd floor. Once 100 feet is on 3rd floor, grab the cylinders and return to the 1st floor and cross the finish line.  

 PAT Disqualifiers/Corrective measures 

  1. Dry Hose Deployment   
  • Candidate must control the nozzle at all times, failure to control nozzle after 3 warnings will result in the candidate starting the skill over.  
  • Candidate must step in the square box.   
  • Candidate must place the nozzle in 2’ diameter circle for completion.  

2.  Charged Hose Deployment  

  • Candidate must control the nozzle at all times, failure to control the nozzle after 3 warnings will result in the candidate starting skill over. 
  • Candidate must step in the square box.   
  • Candidate must place the nozzle in 2’ diameter circle for completion.   

3. Ladder Raise  

  • Candidate will raise and walk the ladder up to the building using a hand over hand technique until the ladder is rested against the building.   The rails of the ladder cannot be used.   
  • If candidate misses any rung during the raise, one warning is given. The second infraction constitutes a disqualification.   
  • If candidate allows the ladder to fall to the ground, this will result in a disqualification.   

4. Halyard Raise  

  • Candidate must foot the ladder (foot on ground at the base of the ladder).  
  • Candidate must stand upright (no leaning forward or backward).  
  • Candidate may use both hands to start ladder but must use a hand over hand method afterwards.   
  • Halyard cannot slide through hands, if infraction occurs, lower ladder to ground and candidate will be given a second reattempt. If halyard slips through the hands a 2nd time, the candidate will be disqualified.   
  • Candidate must fully extend ladder .

5. Roof walk  

  • Candidate must hit every rung on the way up (rungs may be skipped on the way down), if candidate skips a step on the way up they must restart the event.   
  • Candidate must carry the simulated chainsaw on the way up.   
  • Candidate must control the simulated chainsaw.  
  • Candidates are not allowed to turn around and walk down the ladder  
  • Candidate may slide or carry the simulated chainsaw when coming down the ladder.  
  • Candidate must place the simulated chainsaw in the 2’ diameter completion circle.  

6. Attic crawl   

  • If a candidate knocks over an obstacle, reset the course and have them start from the beginning.  
  • Candidate may crawl or crab walk.   
  • If candidate touches the ground, they must restart from the beginning.   
  • If candidate drops flashlight they must restart from the beginning.   
  • Candidate must place flashlight in 2’ completion circle.  

7. Roof Vent  

  • Candidate must complete 30 strikes on the roof.  
  • Candidate must bring the sledge hammer overhead each strike, improper strikes will not be counted.  
  • Proctor will count strikes out loud.   
  • Candidate must put the sledge hammer back in completion box.  

8. Victim removal   

  • Candidate may not drag the victim by head, neck, or clothes.  
  • Candidate may drag by under or over the arms of the victim, by one or two arms, lifting and caring, or with the attached webbing.  
  • If candidate knocks over a cone, reset cone and move victim to original location of error and restart (not from beginning).   
  • Victim’s torso must be placed back into the original starting spot.  

9. Stair climb with hose carry to 4th floor   

  • Candidates may carry the hose on shoulder or arms.   
  • Candidate may skip stairs on the way up, but may not skip stairs on the way down. If infraction occurs, go to point of infraction and restart (not from beginning).   
  • Candidate must place the hose in designated spot and move to crawling search.   

10. Crawling search  

  • If candidate knocks over cone, restart from infraction (not from beginning).  
  • Candidate will pick up the hose bundle and descend stairs. Candidate will touch every step on the way down.    
  • Candidate must place the hose back in designated spot.  

11. Stair climb with equipment (2 cylinders) & hose hoist to 3rd floor  

  • Candidate may skip stairs on the way up, but may not skip stairs on the way down. If infraction occurs, go to the point of infraction and restart (not from beginning).   
  • Candidate must place cylinders in designated area.   
  • Proctor will connect safety line to candidate.   
  • During the hose hoist, candidate may drag hose while placing nozzle in designated spot but must not drag hose over the edge while hoisting the rest of the hose. If candidate has two infractions of dragging the hose over the balcony they will be disqualified.    
  • If candidate drops the hose or rope, they may continue without infraction.   
  • After 100’ of hose reaches the balcony, the candidate will pick up the cylinders and descend the stairs touching each step on the way down.   
  • Candidate will cross the finish line with cylinders, time will stop and be recorded.   

General Rules & Guidelines  

  1. Candidates must have a valid driver’s license.   
  2. Candidate must have the official medical waiver signed by a doctor.   
  3. Candidates must sign a liability waiver.   
  4. Candidate must have a time of 12 minutes 01 second or under to pass the course; a time of 12 minutes 02 seconds will result in a failure.   
  5. No spectators are allowed.   
  6. No cheering or coaching from proctors or other candidates.   
  7. Candidate may not run between events but may run within an event.   
  8. You can give candidate instructions if they ask for it. You may provide instruction but may not conduct a demo.  
  9. During the live examination, proctors may provide instruction but may not conduct a demo.   
  10. If candidate says they wish to stop the test or cannot complete the event, the candidate is then disqualified.    
  11. Candidate will not be able to continue if they are disqualified or exceed the time limit of 12 minutes 01 second.