Top 3 OFAI Fitness Testing Failures (and how to avoid them)

fitbyfire Top 3 OFAI Fitness Testing Failures (and how to avoid them)

Over the years, the team over at Fit By Fire has been working directly with candidates, preparing them to excel at the job performance fitness testing requirements to become a firefighter.

Generally speaking, each test has their differences, but they found that there are some pretty common areas that aspiring firefighters fail to succeed and move forward in the OFAI testing process.

In this article, we are going to cover the top 3 common failure points that Fit by Fire has been seeing on the OFAI fitness test and some key areas to improve.

Encapsulated Treadmill Test

What are the phases of the encapsulated treadmill test?
  • Phase One - 3.5mph, increased in grade over 5 minutes.
  • Phase Two - 3.5 mph and a 10% grade for eight minutes.
  • Phase Three - 3.5mph, 1% grade increase every minute to a max of 15%. Once 15% is reached, speed increase by 0.5 mph each minute until failure.
  • Phase Four - Once failure has been reached, you are required to complete 5 minutes on a flat treadmill, slowly.
  • Quick facts about the Encapsulated Treadmill test
    OFAI Treadmill Test Top 3 OFAI Fitness Testing Failures (and how to avoid them)
  • Your attire will be - shorts, t-shirt, coveralls, full PPE (except firefighter boots - running shoes will be used). This does include an SCBA (although you won't be under air). The total weight is about 51 pounds. The PPE will be provided by the OFAI.
  • This test is designed to evaluate your physical capabilities and if your considered a physically active individual.
  • To pass this test you need to be on the treadmill for a minimum of 18 minutes.
  • While preforming this test, they will be monitoring your expired gases (exhalation) and heart rate.
  • The cost for this section is $100.
  • If passed, this certificate is valid for six months.
  • amberbowman Top 3 OFAI Fitness Testing Failures (and how to avoid them)

    Coaches Notes

    For this one we need to sustain enough speed while under load to power through the treadmill incline, as it increases throught the test.


    Training Focus: Leg power and conditioning.


    Candidates need to handle the extra weight of the bunker gear and SCBA while maintaining the speed and incline of that test.


    How to avoid failing this step:


    • Get on a treadmill at least 2-3 times a week. One day simulating the test, one day working on sprint intervals and potentially a third being pace runs.
    • Doing weighted hill sprints and/ or sled pushes are great for development, but shouldn't replace practicing on the treadmill.
    • Incorporate lunging pattern movements like weighted step-ups and farmers carries to develop the required leg strength and endurance.

    Amber Bowman

    Fit by Fire

    Charged Hose Advance

    What must I do to successfully complete the Fine Motor Skills Hose Assembly test?

    From a standing position facing forward, you will bend and pick up a nozzle connected to 3 lengths of charged 44 mm (1.75”) hose. The test time starts when you move to pick up the hose.


    Holding the nozzle and hose securely with two hands over the preferred shoulder, you will advance the hose to the finish line. The hose is advanced a distance of 30 m (100’) while walking as quickly as possible (running is not permitted).


    The test time stops when you place both feet securely on a rubber mat.


    This test assesses lower body strength and power for pulling and dragging. The test must be completed correctly and safely in 27 seconds or less.



    hoseadvancing Top 3 OFAI Fitness Testing Failures (and how to avoid them)
    T.JJohnston Top 3 OFAI Fitness Testing Failures (and how to avoid them)

    Coaches Notes

    For this one we need to ensure proper technique and leg power-endurance.


    Training Focus: Leg power and endurance.


    Candidates will need to advance the charged hoseline approximately 100 feet.


    How to avoid failing this step:


    • This can be a hard test to practice as most of us don't have access to hoseline props, if possible practice using a small length of hose attached to a sled or heavy object.
    • Hard repeat intervals on an airbike 30 seconds all out with 30-60 second rest seem to have a great crossover to the conditioning demand for this test.
    • Completing heavy walking lunges and developing strength in the hamstrings with single leg deadlifts help best to prepare for the power-endurance needed.

    T.J Johnston

    Fit by Fire

    Ladder Climb

    Quick notes on the Meter Climb

    Starting from a standing position facing the ladder, you will climb 10 rungs (3.45 m) up and down a 7.2 m (24’) ladder. This is repeated five times as quickly as possible.


    A repetition begins with both feet on the floor at the base of the ladder.


    You will climb and place two feet on the 10th rung (weight-bearing step is required), reverse direction and climb down until both feet are again on the floor to complete the repetition.


    The test time starts when you move to start climbing and ends when both feet are on the floor after the 5th repetition.


    You must maintain three points of contact on the ladder at all times, and must climb the ladder rung by rung, without missing any of the rungs.


    This test evaluates the leg strength and endurance required for climbing under load. The test must be completed correctly and safely in 1 minute and 37 seconds or less.



    hoseadvancing Top 3 OFAI Fitness Testing Failures (and how to avoid them)
    amberbowman Top 3 OFAI Fitness Testing Failures (and how to avoid them)

    Coaches Notes

    For this one we need to sustain metabolic conditioning as this is the end of the test and fatigue occurs.


    Training Focus: Metabolic Conditioning


    Candidates need a well rounded strength & conditioning program that focuses on key tasks required by the testing.


    How to avoid failing this step:


    • Have a program that is movement based (not bodybuilding) where you are doing resistance training and conditioning (cardio) at least 4 times a week.
    • Don't overestimate your preparedness, start training at least 12 weeks out from the test, this may need to be longer depending on your current fitness level.
    • Your conditioning work should include circuits of exercises that simulate the demands of the test. You have to be comfortable with being uncomfortable (high heart rate & muscular fatigue) while doing work. Just doing long steady pace cardio is not going to properly prepare you for the demands of the test.

    Amber Bowman

    Fit by Fire

    FREE OFAI CANDIDATE PREP SAMPLE WEEK PDF DOWNLOAD

    • Steve
    • Updated December 12, 2021