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Fit to Work
Page 5 of 6


 

Work Capacity Testing

Some jobs, like firefighting, require passing a job-related work capacity test to meet minimum qualifications. Such tests help ensure that prospective workers have the capacity to perform work without undue fatigue and without becoming a hazard to themselves or coworkers.

Beginning in 1975, a 5-minute step test determined firefighter fitness. Field review indicated that the step test was not sufficiently job-related, did not reflect muscle fitness requirements, had potential for errors, and violated the Americans With Disabilities Act. A systematic process led to the development of new tests for arduous, moderate, and light duties.

The Pack Test

The Pack Test is a 4.83-km (3-mile) hike over level terrain carrying a 20.5-kg (45-pound) pack. To qualify for arduous fireline work, you must complete the pack test in 45 minutes or less.

Tests taken at altitude should be adjusted (see table).

Altitude
Correction
Altitude
(feet)
3-mile
Pack
Test
(Seconds)
4000
30
5000
45
6000
60
7000
75
8000
90
Add the correction to the required test time.

 



 

 

 

Jogging during the test is not permitted. A score of 45 minutes correlates with a step test score of 45 or a 1.5-mile-run time of 11 minutes 40 seconds, the previous standard for wildland firefighters.

The energy cost of the Pack Test is similar to fireline work. Pack Test performance relates directly to muscular fitness. Because of the test distance, the Pack Test is an excellent indicator of the capacity to perform prolonged arduous work under adverse conditions, with a reserve to meet unforeseen emergencies.

Additional field tests were developed to qualify individuals for moderate and light duties.

Fitness
Requirement
Test
Description
Arduous
(45 mL/kg*min)
Lift over 50 lbs
Pack
Test
3-mile hike
with 45-pound
pack in 45 min.
Moderate
(40 mL/kg * min)
Lift 25-50 lbs
Field
Test
2-mile hike
with 25-pound
pack in 30 min.
Light
(35 mL/kg*min)
Light lifting
Walk
Test
1-mile hike
in 16 min.

 

 

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