Preparing for the CPAT

Preparation is a key to successfully completing the Candidate Physical Ability Test (CPAT). Most of the candidates who fail the CPAT didn’t attend orientations or practice sessions.

For a complete description of each CPAT Event, click on the Orientation Guide to the right or watch the Orientation Video below, which describes the events contained within the CPAT.

The following videos describe the events contained within the California Firefighter CPAT. Due to minor differences in course layout, it’s recommended you watch the orientation video for the facility at which you plan to take your CPAT.

Sacramento FCTC

Livermore FCTC


At the orientation, you’ll be able to try out the CPAT apparatus for yourself and determine your level of ability in each of the individual tasks. You’ll then know what exercises to focus on in training for the test.

Certified Peer Fitness Trainers or CPAT-trained firefighters (proctors) will be on hand to familiarize you with each task and apparatus and give you specific advice on conditioning, as well as techniques you can use to prepare for the CPAT. You’ll also receive a copy of the CPAT Preparation Guide (see link to the right).

Preparation Guide

A CPAT Preparation Guide to help you prepare for the test is available by clicking on the link to the right. The guide includes important information on:

  • The physical demands of the CPAT
  • Basic training principles
  • Warm-up techniques
  • Flexibility techniques
  • Muscular strength/endurance techniques
  • Cardiovascular endurance techniques
  • Training techniques for those without access to a gym or specialized equipment
  • The importance of proper hydration

Weighted vests, required when taking the CPAT, are also available to rent so you can incorporate them in your workouts. The cost is $25 for a two-week rental and $50 for a four-week rental.

Practice Sessions

Within 30 days of your official test date, you will be given the opportunity to perform at least two timed practice runs, during which you can complete the entire course and use the actual CPAT apparatus. These sessions will help you evaluate your conditioning and progress toward preparing for the physical demands of the CPAT.

CPAT-trained firefighters/proctors will guide you through the test and provide tips on improving your performance and conditioning.


  • You will be notified by e-mail of the confirmation of your orientation, practice and test schedule
  • Please report 30 minutes before your scheduled event


  • Long pants (No shorts)
  • T-shirt or sweatshirt
  • Footwear with no open heel or toe
  • No loose or restrictive jewelry