Firefighter trainees need a level of fitness to be admitted to and complete a training academy. Fitness could indicate a trainee’s likelihood of graduation.
PURPOSE: Determine fitness differences between trainees who graduated (GRAD) or were released due to a) injury (RELI), b) skills test performance failures (RELP), or c) resignation (RELR); and whether fitness predicted graduation or academy release.
METHODS: Data from an occupational physical ability test (OPAT) for 686 trainees were analyzed, including: Illinois agility test; push-ups; pull-ups; leg tucks; estimated maximal aerobic capacity (V̇O2max) from the multistage fitness test; backwards overhead 4.54-kg medicine ball throw (BOMBT); 10-repetition maximum deadlift; and a 91.44-m farmer’s carry with 18-kg kettlebells. Data were recorded in raw and scaled scores (based on internal department scoring). Trainees were split into GRAD (n=576), RELI (n=33), RELP (n=66), and RELR (n=11) groups. A one-way ANOVA with Bonferroni post hoc calculated between-group differences. Stepwise linear regression determined whether raw and/or scaled fitness scores predicted group inclusion. Receiver operating curves (and area under the curve; AUC) derived test accuracy for predicting academy release.
RESULTS: The GRAD group were superior (p≤0.04) to the: RELI group in all tests except push-ups, pull-ups, and the raw farmer’s carry score; RELP group in all tests except the farmer’s carry; RELR group in V̇O2max, scaled deadlift, and total OPAT score. The strongest predictive regression (r2=0.15) for the GRAD group included scaled scores for total OPAT, deadlift, BOMBT, and V̇O2max. For the RELI group, it was scaled V̇O2max., BOMBT, pull-up, and leg tuck scores (r2=0.06), and scaled total OPAT and BOMBT scores for the RELP group (r2=0.06). Scaled deadlift score was the strongest predictor for the RELR group (r2=0.05). Raw V̇O2max (AUC=0.71) and total OPAT (AUC=0.74) score had acceptable accuracy for predicting trainee release. Trainees who graduated were predicted to have a V̇O2max of ≥43.05 ml/kg/min and a total OPAT ≥394.5 points (out of 800).
CONCLUSION: Fitness influenced academy graduation and reasons for release. Scaled scores could predict group inclusion in this department, with V̇O2max and total OPAT score providing the most accurate predictors for release.