The Main Line is the official publication of the San Francisco Fire Fighter’s Local 798. Opinions expressed in this publication are not necessarily those of Local 798 or the San Francisco Fire Department. Members are welcome to submit Letters or Articles for publication; however the Editorial Board reserves the right to review/edit any submitted material.

For the Good of the Department…
By Steve Engler
For the last four years the International Association of Fire Fighters (I.A.F.F.), the Justice (D.O.J.) have been developing a new National Standard for entrance into the Fire Service. Currently over 100 departments across the Nation have adopted this newly validated Cadet Physical Abilities Test (C.P.A.T.) and as a result court imposed Consent Decrees have been lifted.

There were many reasons for developing this new Cadet Physical Abilities Test for applicants entering the fire service. It was found that having a uniform test across the nation solved many of the problems that are now present in departments throughout the Country. These problems range from an increase in work related disabilities, to lawsuits challenging the validity of non-validated C.P.A.T.’s. A validated C.P.A.T. gives people a realistic idea of what will be required of them upon entering any fire department. In addition, there is currently a National Standard for paramedics entering the SFFD. Now that there is a valid National Standard for the Fire Service, shouldn’t that also be put into effect. Shouldn’t the fire fighting capabilities of the SFFD be valued as much as the medical capabilities?

In January 2001, Chief Tabacco expressed interest in a demonstration of the new C.P.A.T. Fire fighters Local 798 arranged for all interested members of the San Francisco Fire Department to participate in and view the new test. There were over 114 members of the Department, including instructors from the Division of Training, the Chief of the Division of Training, and the Department Physician. Participation by each of these members was greatly appreciated by Local 798.

During the three days of testing, every member who participated thought the new test was valid. In fact, all felt the new test was a great improvement over the current P.A.T. used for entrance into the San Francisco Fire Department.

On March 8, 2001, the Fire Commission of the San Francisco Fire Department asked for a presentation of the new C.P.A.T. President Hanley gave the presentation to the test. After the presentation, the Fire Commissioners asked questions ranging from, “Why change from the test that we currently are using?” to “What will the impact be on women and minorities taking the test?”

One advantage of a nationally validated test over the one we are currently using, is that because the Department of Justice developed the test they would be charged with legally defending it if there were to be a court challenge. Another benefit of the new test is it will increase moral. All members would be able to hold their heads up high and say, “I passed the same test they have in New York, Seattle, and Los Angeles. No one gave me anything!”

In closing, the Commission gave the impression that they were not 100% receptive to this new test. The question that seemed to come up again and again was why change. There is a very simple answer to this question. The commission is charged with the well being of the Department. The membership is saying, this is a better test that will make us a better Department.


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