By Tammy Watts
GREENVILLE — A practice session for the Physical Ability Test (PAT) for Firefighters was held in Greenville on Saturday, June 3. In order to be eligible for the PAT, candidates had to pass the written Civil Service Test. Seven out of 10 applicants passed, and of those, four attended the practice session.
“It doesn’t count against you if you don’t attend, but coming to the practice session is strongly encouraged,” stated Assistant Fire Chief Jeremy Brandenburg. “Candidates who don’t show up to practice day, usually fail on test day.”
Prior to the test, Captain Kevin Subler, First Platoon, met with candidates in the conference room of the Greenville Municipal Building, to review rules and requirements for all the stations on the physically demanding course. Candidates completed gear checks, had their vital signs taken, and signed liability waivers.
The PAT determines balance, stamina, coordination, strength, and overall fitness. It consists of eight stations: stair climb (while carrying a 50-lb. roll of hose, up and down twice); hose pull, and lower out of a window; ladder raise, forcible entry, in which candidates hit a beam with a mallet on a Keiser Force Machine, knocking it backward between their legs for a distance of five feet; hose advancement; blind crawl; ceiling pull; and victim rescue. The entire test must be completed while wearing full protective gear, in eight minutes or less. Some of the elements, such as ladder raise, and blind crawl, are designed to test for phobias and mental blocks.
“If you have claustrophobia, that’s OK, no disrespect, and if you give someone a hard time over claustrophobia, you don’t need to be working here,” Subler stated, adding that he overcame it early in his career, thanks to a supportive leader. If the candidate is unable to complete the station, however, it is cause for disqualification.
The firefighter candidates came from a variety of different backgrounds. “I was a mechanic, and had a couple bad shop managers, so I wanted a new career,” said Mark Wysong. “My dad is a police officer, and my mom is a nurse, so I wanted to do something along those lines, and now I can’t imagine doing anything else.”
Greenville firefighters are required to take the PAT annually, although it is not timed for incumbent personnel. However, anyone who completes the course in eight minutes, or less will earn a day off.
The test takes place next week. All firefighter candidates are wished the very best of luck, with appreciation for their dedication, and desire to serve the community.
Contact Daily Advocate Reporter Tammy Watts at [email protected]