Stair Climb

Event #1 – Stair Climb (Video)


This event uses a step treadmill stair climbing machine. The machine is positioned with one side up against a wall and an elevated proctor platform on the side opposite the wall. A single handrail on the wall side is available for you to grasp while mounting and dismounting the step treadmill.

Purpose of Evaluation

This event is designed to simulate the critical tasks of climbing stairs in full protective clothing while carrying a high-rise pack (hose bundle) and climbing stairs in full protective clothing carrying fire fighter equipment. This event challenges your aerobic capacity, lower body muscular endurance and ability to balance. This event affects your aerobic energy system as well as the following muscle groups: quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, calves, and lower back stabilizers.


For this event, you must wear two 12.5-pound (5.67-kg) weights on your shoulders to simulate the weight of a high-rise pack. Prior to the initiation of the timed CPAT, there is a 20-second warm-up on the StepMill at a set stepping rate of 50 steps per minute. During this warm-up period, you are permitted to dismount, grasp the rail or hold the wall to establish balance and cadence. If you fall or dismount the StepMill during the 20-second warm-up period, you must remount the StepMill and restart the entire 20-second warm-up period.

You are allowed to restart the warm-up period twice. The timing of the test begins at the end of this warm-up period when the proctor who calls the word “START”. There is no break in time between the warm-up period and the actual timing of the test. For the test, you must walk on the StepMill at a set stepping rate of 60 steps per minute for 3 minutes. This concludes the event. The two 12.5-pound (5.67-kg) weights are removed from your shoulders. Walk 85 feet (25.91 m) within the established walkway to the next event.

Warnings and Failures

If you fall or dismount the StepMill three times during the warm-up period, you fail the test. If you fall, grasp any of the test equipment or dismount the StepMill after the timed CPAT begins, the test is concluded and you fail the test. During the test, you are permitted to touch the wall or handrail for balance only momentarily. However, if the wall or handrail is grasped or touched for an extended period of time, or if the wall or handrail is used for weight bearing, you are warned.

Only two warnings are given. The third infraction constitutes a failure, the test time is concluded and you fail the test.

Physical Preparation

You can readily modify aerobic training to more closely resemble the 3-minute stair climb in the CPAT by performing actual stair-stepping exercise on any conveniently located first step of a staircase, preferably at least 8 inches in height. Step at a rate that permits completion of 24 complete stepping cycles within a one-minute period. A stepping cycle consists of stepping up with one foot, then the other and down with one foot, then the other in a rhythm “up-up, down-down”. You must alternate starting foot from right to left. Strive to complete two stepping cycles within a 5-second period.

Begin training by stepping continuously (unweighted) for 5 minutes. As your fitness improves, complete a second and then third 5 minute exercise bout interspersed with several minutes of recovery. Once you can complete three intervals of 5-minutes of stepping, add weight to your torso in the form of a knapsack to which weights, sand, dirt or rocks has been added. Continue to perform three 5-minute intervals of stepping; progressively add weight to the knapsack as your fitness improves so that you can step with 50 pounds of additional weight. (This 50-pound knapsack and work gloves should be worn in training for all subsequent events of the CPAT.)

In addition, carry 10-15 pounds (dumbbell, sand filled plastic container) in each hand while stepping. The total weight carried (knapsack plus hand-held weights) should equal approximately 75 pounds. At this stage, reduce the duration of the exercise interval to 3 minutes. This task-specific training not only improves aerobic fitness for continuous stepping but it also improves your leg power for stepping in the weighted condition, which represents a unique component of this CPAT item.