HOT SPRINGS — The Hot Springs Fire Department has requested changes to its physical fitness test for new hires, telling the Public Service Commission that some elements of the current test do not simulate the physical demands of the firefighting field. ‘fire.
Applicants must pass physical and written tests before they can be interviewed by the commission, which ranks applicants. The state code empowers the commission to make rules and regulations for the city’s civil service system, including adopting rules for physical examinations.
Changes requested at the August committee meeting included the addition of a deadweight carry/drag, replacing the 125-pound dumbbell carry. Instead of carrying a 100-foot bar, candidates should move a 160-pound casualty simulator that distance.
The Keizer Sled would replace the curvature of the waist. Fire Chief Ed Davis told the commission that many departments use the simulated forced-entry hashing device to test candidates’ proficiency with an axe. They straddle a weighted beam and use a hammer to ram the beam behind them.
“If you’ve never been in a fire department, you can still do these things,” Davis told the commission. “The one thing we didn’t want to do was put firefighting elements into it that people didn’t know how to perform.”
Candidates would have two minutes and 30 seconds to complete the Dead Weight Carry/Drag, Keizer Sled, and Beam Walk. The latter requires a 3-inch coiled pipe to be carried 20 feet through a 4-inch beam. The department’s new hires committee told the commission that several city firefighters completed all three items in just over a minute on average, even after running nearly a mile previously.
Candidates must run 1.5 miles in 13 minutes, do 35 sit-ups and 25 push-ups. After a two-minute break, they begin the back half of the test, which also includes climbing and descending a 58-foot aerial ladder angled at a 60-degree angle in four minutes.
“Running, push-ups and sit-ups bring people to the point of exhaustion,” Davis told the commission. “When they’re exhausted, if they can perform those basic functions, they’ll be fine. I wish we could set a building on fire, and they could walk through it and get to that point of exhaustion and demonstrate that this way, but it’s just not practical.”
Davis said he and his command team lost weight to demonstrate the importance of maintaining physical fitness.
“We all did things to try to be a good example,” he told the commission. “I’m almost 60 and I still run three times a week. We try to set a good example for the people below us.”