Physical Ability Evaluation

Physical Ability Evaluation

The CIFETC Physical Ability Evaluation sessions on Tuesday and Wednesday are practice/challenge.  Please select no more than one session per day.  Thursday session is testing only, please select only one session.  You are permitted to sign up for one session each day.  If you successfully challenge on Tue/Wed, your name will be removed from Thursday.



This course is designed to simulate the physical abilities needed to proficiently operate on an emergency scene, as well as the cardio-vascular capability to work at a higher level for the period of time usually required during initial operations. This course is designed for candidates only and is not designed to be used as an assessment tool for current employees. The course will be set-up at the Tri-City Fire and Safety Training (FAST) Tower, behind Urbandale Fire Department St. 42, 3927 121st St. Urbandale.


Candidates will be sent a description of the course as far in advance of the actual test date as possible. A video explaining the course and each skill is available on the website. Candidates will be encouraged to physically prepare for the course, and work-out recommendations will be made available. All candidates must sign a waiver recognizing the purpose for the course, the fact that it will be physically challenging, and attesting they feel themselves to be in adequate physical condition to participate.​​


Candidates are encouraged to wear comfortable clothing and athletic shoes. Candidates are also advised that portions of the course do involve crawling so sweat pants are recommended. For the evaluation, each candidate will be issued a turnout coat, helmet, and gloves of an appropriate size. Candidates will be required to complete the course while wearing an SCBA with cylinder. At one point in the course, candidates will be required to don a blacked-out facepiece, which they will remove prior to moving onto the next skill.​

Physical Assessment/Monitoring

Prior to beginning a practice or evaluation, the candidate will be reminded of the physical nature of the course and asked if they are aware of any physical conditions which may present a health hazard to themselves. The course waiver will also reflect this information. During the course, Evaluators will continually monitor the candidate for signs of a potential health problem, and can suspend the course at any time the evaluator or the candidate feels ill or suffers an injury. Upon completion of the course/time limit, all protective clothing will be removed and the candidate will be provided with a 10-minute cool-down period. Water will be kept immediately available for rehydration. Candidates will be encouraged to wait as long as necessary before departing to ensure they are not suffering any physical effects from the course.

Course Briefing

All candidates will receive a course briefing prior to any practice session of the actual PAE. During the briefing candidates will be shown a video of the course and encouraged to ask any questions. Candidates will also sign the course waiver at this time. Candidates will be required to provide a picture ID to verify their identity.

Course Layout: Set-up

  1. Aerial Ladder Climb Skill. A 75’ aerial ladder will be used for this skill. The ladder will be fully extended and angled to 60 degrees of elevation. The truck will then be secured with the engine off. A belay system connected to an anchor will be rigged as fall protection for the candidates. A selection of sized climbing harnesses will be made available. This skill requires one additional FF to act as a safety belay in addition to the Evaluator.
  2. Ground Ladder Press Skill. A 16’ ground ladder will be placed on the B Side of the FAST Tower. The butt of the ladder will rest against the foundation of the tower and the top of the ladder will be connected via cable to a fall arrestor on the tower roof. This skill requires the Evaluator only.
  3. Stairwell Climb Skill. A modified hose pack consisting of 100’ of 1 ¾” bound together with a shoulder sling will be placed immediately adjacent to the Side A door. White tape will mark the drop point for the hose pack on the 4th story landing. This skill requires the Evaluator only.
  4. Hose Hoist Skill. A rolled section of rubber 2 ½” will be placed under the window on the A side of the building. All windows on the A side will be locked open. A 100’ section of utility rope will be tied to the rolled 2 ½” and run up the exterior A side to the 4th story window, where the other end is tied off to a support just inside the window. White tape will mark the area where the candidate must stand inside the 4th story window. This skill requires one additional FF to reset the hose roll and hose pack in addition to the Evaluator.
  5. Mask Course Skill. Black-out masks with no obstruction over the regulator port will be placed outside the 2nd floor (a supply of mask wipes and towel should also be provided). A countdown clock set to 60 seconds will also be located outside the door. A second countdown clock will be placed outside the 2nd floor C Side Annex Roof door. Rolled carpeting will be placed on the floors of both burn rooms. 100’ of 1 ¾” hose will be stretched from the 2nd floor interior tower door, into and through both burn rooms, exiting out onto the 2nd floor C side Annex Roof. The following furniture will be placed as obstacles: chair (trail around), sofa (trail around), mattress or box spring (trail over), 4’ x 8’ sheet of osb (trail under). This skill requires the Evaluator only.
  6. Forcible Entry Skill. The Forcible entry striking prop will be placed on the B side of the training tower. A 12 lb sledgehammer will be placed standing next to the striking prop. This skill requires the Evaluator only.
  7. Charged Hose Drag Skill. Start and finish lines are marked on the back apron 80’ apart. 150’ of 1 ¾” will be flaked back and forth with the nozzle resting on the start line as indicated. The hose should be connected to a gated wye on the hydrant and the line charged and the air bled out. The line should then be gated off. This skill requires the Evaluator only.
  8. Rescue Dummy Drag Skill. White tape will be used to mark Start and Finish lines in the South bay 75’ apart. A 165 lb rescue dummy clothed in turnout gear will be placed on the start line in the station as indicated. A looped piece of webbing should be run under the arms and over the chest to provide a drag point. This skill requires one additional FF to reset the dummy and charged hose line in addition to the Evaluator.

Minimum Personnel Requirements: One Officer, Two Evaluators (PAE Course Leads) and three support Firefighters, with no more than one Firefighter and one Evaluator part of the on-Duty crew.

Course Description

Refer to the video link below for a better understanding of the course and each skill. Course Evaluators and support personnel will not provide any encouragement or time hints during the course. Comments will be limited to correcting an unsafe condition and directing the candidate to the next skill.

Candidate Evaluation

Each Candidate will have 11 minutes to complete the course, based on the following:

  1. After donning the required protective equipment/SCBA, the Candidate will be assisted into a ladder belt and will climb to the aerial ladder platform where they will be secured to the safety belay line. This is the ready position.
  2. The Evaluator will begin timing when the Candidate takes their first step onto the aerial ladder. The time will run continuously until the Candidate completes the course or 11 minutes elapses.
  3. Time does not stop at any point for any Candidate reason. If the candidate removes or any part of their protective equipment becomes dislodged during the course the candidate will have to stop and reset their equipment – timing will continue.
  4. Time is allotted within the 11 minute course requirement for all Candidate actions including removal of the ladder belt, donning the blackout mask (all candidates will be held at the beginning of the skill for 60 seconds), and doffing the blackout mask (all candidates will be held at the end of the skill for 30 seconds).
  5. Course time stops when the candidate and the rescue dummy have both completely crossed the finish line after skill 8. This is the course end time.​