Waxahachie firefighters spent time putting their knowledge and training to the test on Thursday afternoon. Firefighters worked to set new times on the departments physical ability hiring test.
“We are revamping our physical ability test a little bit. It used to have a couple of breaks during the test. Also you didn’t wear the entire weighted vest for the entire test. So we altered the test a little bit,” Fire Chief Ricky Boyd said. “It still has the same steps but without any breaks in it. You have to work with the weighted vest and all the gear all the way through the test.”
Boyd said since the parameters of the test for new hires have changed all firefighters in the department ages 18-35 are required to run through it. This will establish a mean and maximum time that new recruits will have to meet. The physical ability test tests skills that firefighters will use at an emergency scene. The weighted vest that is worn throughout the test simulates the airpack firefighters wear on a call and weights around 45 pounds.
“The old time was seven minutes but wearing a weighted vest it tasks you a whole lot more. So right now we are looking at seven to seven and an half minutes to finish, Boyd said. “The skills that are tested are just like we would use on the fire ground. It is coupling hose, pulling charged hose lines, raising ladders, climbing ladders, pulling hose up to the third floor of the drill tower and dragging a dummy simulating a rescue.”
Boyd said a plan to add some more positions at the department has been presented to the city manager, Paul Stevens. If he approves it, the recommendation will be forwarded onto the city council for its consideration. Testing will go on throughout next week. While younger firefighters are being required to undergo the test Boyd has already lead by example. He completed the test earlier finishing under the seven-minute mark.
One of the firefighters that ran through the test on Thursday was Shane Petty. Petty said the new test cuts down on the down time in between the different stations. The test is also more physically demanding and will help to provide the department with more physical fit candidates to choose from, Petty said.
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