The fitness test for Canadian firefighters

WFX-FIT test ramp
The ramp used in the WFX-FIT test

The two articles about the fitness test for wildland firefighters in the United States published yesterday on Wildfire Today have generated significant interest so far, judging from the number of comments left by our readers in the last 24 hours. The fitness test we are referring to is the Pack Test version of the Work Capacity Test which requires carrying 45 pounds (20.4 kg) for three miles on flat ground (4.83 km) in less than 45 minutes. Federal land management agencies in the U.S. and some fire departments require that firefighters pass the test each year in order to work on the fireline.

It was a coincidence that the two articles appeared on the same day. Rae Brook’s piece about a possible new and tougher version of a fitness test for hotshot crews had been in the pipeline for weeks and was just completed yesterday, about the same time that we received word of the unfortunate fatality of someone who was attempting to take the test two days earlier.

We learn a lot from comments left by our readers. “BC Initial Attack” informed us about the fitness test required of Type 1 Firefighters in Canada. The WFX-FIT, which first saw widespread use in 2012, is described as “a valid job-related physical performance standard used to determine whether an individual possesses the physical capabilities necessary to meet the rigorous demands encountered while fighting wildland fires.”

The components of the  WFX-FIT, after pre-participation screening are:

WFX-FIT circuits

The pump, or simulated pump, weighs 62.7 pounds (28.5 kg). The simulated hose that is dragged is represented by a 40.7 pound (18.5 kg) weighted sled. The hose pack weighs 55 pounds (25 kg).

WFX-FIT hose drag

Firefighters must be able to complete the test within 14 minutes and 30 seconds to be eligible for the National Exchange. The  Ontario Provincial Standard is 17 minutes and 15 seconds, the Alberta Provincial Standard is 14 minutes and 20 seconds, and the British Columbia standard is 14 minutes and 30 seconds. A score between 14 minutes and 31 seconds and 17 minutes and 15 seconds will meet the Ontario Provincial Standard but will not permit deployment outside of Ontario.

The photos are from the WFX-FIT website and the above video.

Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire. Google+

3 thoughts on “The fitness test for Canadian firefighters”

  1. I read the post about the fitness test for wildland firefighters in the United States yesterday, and thought right away about the new test we’ve adopted North of the border. Glad to see a post up already about the new Canadian Exchange Standard. I really like the new test. We often look to the US when we are developing new training/operational ideas. Maybe this test will be a fit down south. Researchers had 482 fire fighters from across all 13 fire agencies in Canada participate in the development of this test throughout all terrain (mountainous,swampy-muskeg, plains etc.). A lot of money and research went into the development to ensure this new test met all of the legal requirements to be Bona Fide Occupational Requirement. The website for our test is: http://www.wfx-fit.ca/

  2. This is nice for structural fire departments where you fight fire for a short amount of time while expending all your energy in a short period. Wildland fire is much different. I’d rather work with someone who can work like that all day, not just for 15 minutes.

    1. I have worked in the past worked as a structural firefighter and currently work in Ontario doing IA. In order to perform effective initial attack objectives and to stop the progression of the fire it can require the same amount of energy as a structural firefighter would possibly need to use. By utilizing this test standard it simulates a worst case scenario to help ensure that even though men/women shouldn’t have to be in those situations that their life/safety isn’t compromised

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