The Fitness Requirements for Firefighter Jobs in the Australian Fire Services
To get firefighter jobs, you need to be fit. Until you have experienced the physical demands of working near a fire, you may not fully appreciate the fitness levels you need to reach before you can become a firefighter. In addition to surviving heat and smoke exposure, firefighters’ jobs require you to climb heights and pull heavy equipment while in this environment.
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Some people tend to have the genetic abilities and previous physical training that help them land a firefighter job. Others will need to adjust to or commence a specific fitness training program, and even progress in it for a lengthy period of time, before they will have the physical ability to meet the fitness requirements of being a fire fighter in Australia.
The Beep Test
The beep test is a standard fitness test that is used all around the world, not only for testing fire fighters, but it is used by military personal, sports coaches and schools.
The beep test system works with a pre-recorded audio device that sounds loud ‘beeping’ noises. Participants are required to run a 20m distance before the next beep sounds, and as the test progresses, the beeps become closer and closer together.
At first, participants will only need to run approximately 8km an hour, and at each stage of the test, they will need to run around 0.5km an hour faster than the one before. Depending on which department you intend on joining, as a fire fighter, you will need to reach between 8-10 on the beep test to pass.
To practice for the beep test, you can train on medium length runs, and also sprints. You can also obtain a copy of a beep test recording yourself, mark out your own 20m course, and practice improving your score every time you train.
The general entry level in Australia to obtain firefighter jobs is just under level 10 in most cases 9.6.
Simulated Fitness Requirements
When you apply for firefighter jobs, expect to participate in a range of other fitness tests that will simulate the real-life requirements of a firefighter:
Simulated Hose Drag Test
This test is done to assess a firefighter’s ability to carry a heavy water filled hose. This exercise simulates the dragging of multiple 30 metre hoses. To complete this, candidates have to grasp handles that are attached to a 67kg sled. Candidates must then hold the handles under one arm and walk forward for a distance of 15 metres and back again. They then walk another 30 metres without the sled.
To successfully complete the exercise, candidates must complete 3 of the 30 metre drags with the sled followed by a 30 metre walk without. The total distance walked is 180 metres. The target time for this exercise is 2 minutes and 45 seconds.
Heights Anxiety Test
This tests ensures you can climb and work safely in a high environment. For this test, the candidate has to don a breathing apparatus before climbing a combined ladder up to a platform. The candidate then has to cross a 1 metre gap to the tower and relay a message that was given to him or her at the beginning of the climb.
Simulated Heavy Tool Test
This test measures your upper and lower body strength. In this exercise, the candidate is required to hold a set of simulation spreaders at 3 different heights (shoulder level, waist level and knee level) for 40 seconds continuously.
An important factor in these tests is that just because you feel strong or can lift weights at home, it doesn’t mean the quality of your strength will be the same in firefighter jobs. Fire fighters need to push and pull unorthodox objects and they need to activate many muscles groups in one activity. This is very different to the process of lifting a bar bell or using resistance strength machine in a gym.
If you are seeking to land a firefighter job, consider structuring your home fitness program accordingly to mimic the demands of recruitment testing, and an actual fire fighter job. You will find this puts you in good stead for judgment day and the entire fire recruitment and selection process.