California Firefighter Joint Apprenticeship Committee

A Partnership for Success

By improving the quality of education and training within the fire service and setting a professional standard for firefighters throughout the state of California, the California Firefighter Joint Apprenticeship Committee (Cal-JAC) has proven itself an innovative and respected leader.

A collaboration of two strong and influential forces, the Cal-JAC is co-sponsored by the Office of the California State Fire Marshal, representing management, and the California Professional Firefighters, AFL-CIO, representing labor. This partnership of management and labor creates a balance that benefits California fire departments, firefighters and ultimately the communities in which they serve.


The concept of building skill through apprenticeship has been around since the Middle Ages. Then, as now, the object was simple, use the experience of one generation to train the next. For over 25 years, the Cal-JAC has brought this tradition to our demanding profession. With more than 175 fire departments representing over 10,000 apprentices, and logging millions of training hours, the Cal-JAC has become the cornerstone of standards-based firefighter training in California.

When fire departments and their respective labor associations subscribe to the Cal-JAC , they are agreeing to provide their apprentices valuable instruction while meeting the Cal-JAC standards, which parallel the State Board of Fire Services and the Emergency Medical Services Association.

Apprenticeship training consists of an academy, followed by instruction that relates to or supplements what was taught in the academy. Apprenticeship works because it provides true-to-life work experience through on-the-job training.


The Cal-JAC emphasizes the value of recruiting well trained and qualified firefighting personnel from the ranks of underrepresented and target groups. The program reaches out to all areas of society because firefighters protect all of society. The Cal-JAC provides effective outreach materials and services for recruitment to our participating departments. Current materials available can be found on our website under “Recruitment.”

In 2005, the Cal-JAC created a new Commission to Recruit Women for the Fire Service. Comprised of female firefighters – ranging from firefighter to chief – the Commission meets regularly to develop fresh approaches to recruiting women. The Commission has successfully created several recruitment pieces including a video, brochure and posters and has organized a series of firefighter career expos … all designed to bring a new generation of women into the profession.

Candidate Physical Ability Test (CPAT)

Introduced in 1999, the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) and the International Association of Fire Chief’s (IAFC) Candidate Physical Ability Test (CPAT) set an international standard for effectively measuring whether a prospective firefighter is up the physical demands of the job.

For almost as long, the Cal-JAC has provided the CPAT for fire departments statewide. The Cal-JAC's four regionally located CPAT Testing Centers are designed with the firefighter candidate in mind. Staffed by CPAT’s most knowledgeable testing experts and fitted with the latest job-simulating testing apparatus, the Cal-JAC 's state-of-the-art facilities provide a comprehensive testing program including orientations and practice days.