Prospective paid firefighters in Buckhannon have a new set of physical fitness testing requirements to meet in accordance with national physical fitness standards.
Scott Preston, city councilman and volunteer fireman, said the new standards, which recently were approved by Civil Service, are more in line with national standards used today.
"These standards better represent, more realistically, what firefighters encounter in their duties," Preston said. "It puts an emphasis on physical fitness."
The new training includes a requirement that a candidate be able to drag 80 feet of fire hose, which has been placed around a barrel to add friction, at least 50 feet. The pass/fail criteria requires a candidate to pull the hose by walking, jogging or running forward while remaining in control of the hose.
The lengths of the hose can often stretch from 50 feet to more than 200 feet. The test is designed to measure a candidate's lower body strength.
Another hose pull tests a candidate's upper body strength. In this test, the candidate must drag the hose toward themselves through the same barrel obstacles, only from the kneeling position. This will test a candidate's ability to adapt to situations where standing or moving one's feet is not possible.
During the sled test, a candidate will be required to drive a block of steel 4 feet with a 10-pound sledgehammer. This will test the candidate's ability to use heavy tools such as sledgehammers and axes in determining the ability to generate enough force to create openings in a variety of building materials.
Another new test will be the kettle ball test, which will require a candidate to carry two 20-pound kettle balls a distance of 50 feet.
The confidence maze will test a candidate's ability to navigate a dark corridor, which a firefighter might encounter in a smoke-filled structure.
Candidates also must be able to drag a dummy weighing 165 pounds a total of 50 feet backward, keeping the dummy on its back with its arms at its sides. The candidate must complete this task while remaining inside the designated pathway.
These tests are all pass/fail for the candidate. There is no annual retesting on these hiring qualifications.
The intent of the new testing is to ensure each candidate is able to physically complete firefighting duties, and will be administered consecutively.
It was noted that it is the intent of the fire department to encourage and aid candidates to pass these tests. However, no rules will be bent or broken in order to gain a passing standing.
The old tests consisted of such requirements as timed distance runs, which have no relevance in firefighting fitness, Buckhannon Fire Chief Mitch Tacy said during a recent council meeting.