Clark County Fire Departments Join Forces For Recruitment Drive

Clark County fire departments join forces for recruitment drive

Are you a hero? Do you want to be one? Applications are scheduled to be accepted online for entry-level firefighters Dec. 8-22.

“It’s a very competitive process to become a firefighter,” Clark County Fire Chief Greg Cassell said. “The open house sessions are designed to give you the information you need to become a successful candidate.”

To save costs, the fire departments for Clark County, Henderson, Mesquite, Mount Charleston, North Las Vegas and Pahrump have developed a joint firefighter recruitment process. Candidates can apply with more than one agency using the same application.

Testing includes proving you’re up to the physical demands of the job.

Greg Gammon, whose 30-year career includes being the former Las Vegas fire chief, is now the director of the Fire Science program at the College of Southern Nevada. It includes a Candidate Physical Ability Test facility (CPAT) where exercises are conducted that all prospective firefighters must pass.

“We’re looking for people who are physically fit and demonstrated … that they can physically handle the demands of the job,” Gammon said.

He said it’s not so much brute strength that’s required, but other factors such as stamina and being able to work as a team. The CPAT test is used in all 50 states and includes eight exercises in a specific order.

“It’s not really an exercise, but a test,” Gammon said. “It’s the best we can do to simulate what you’ll (face) on the job. It’s pretty difficult to do.”

The tests are done while the candidate is wearing a 50-pound vest and include being on a stepmill with 25 pounds on the shoulders, stepping once a second for 3 minutes and 20 seconds.

“That’s the first exercise and the one that most people fail,” Gammon said. “It’s very common for candidates to fail their first time.”

The $150 fee candidates pay to take the test includes a second and even third attempt at a later date.

Women and men take the same tests. Gammon estimated that 1,000 people have gone through the CPAT facility, and roughly 800 were men. The failure rate is 15 to 20 percent for both men and women.

A website, csn.edu/cpat, shows the exercises for candidates to help them prepare. One of the last exercises includes dragging a 165-pound dummy.

“Unlike a firefighter, if we were to come across a (victim), our adrenaline would get us through that,” Gammon said. “It kicks in to give you a little more strength. But when you’re doing the testing, and your body is beat and your legs are shot, it feels more like you’re dragging 300 pounds. It’s kind of funny when you see someone come in to take the test and it’s obvious that they spend six hours a day in a gym. Their arms are the size of barrels. … The big bodybuilder? They don’t pass. They don’t do a lot of cardio. So, they’ll lift weights all day long but no cardio.”

Those who pass the CPAT are then required to take a written test in January.

The cost of the CPAT is $150. Visit csn.edu/fire.

Firefighter recruitment is limited to the first 4,500 applications. Visit snvfirerecruitment.com.

— To reach Summerlin Area View reporter Jan Hogan, email jhogan@viewnews.com or call 702-387-2949.

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