The 8 Station Operational Focused Ability Test (OFAT) for Queensland Fire and Emergency Services Recruits
Are you considering entering the Queensland Fire and Emergency Services (QFES)? Then you will need to be physically and mentally ready to take on the tasks your duties might include while on the job.
The QFES has developed an 8 Station Operational Focused Ability Test that measures the fitness of their new recruits. This article aims to detail what that is, what it entails, and what you need to do to complete it successfully. Let's dig in.
What is the OFAT?
The Operational Focused Ability Test (OFAT) comprises a set of physically and mentally demanding tests designed to simulate the types of activities that Queensland Fire and Emergency services personnel would undertake during an emergency incident. Anyone looking to complete the OFAT requires high levels of muscular strength and endurance, and cardiovascular fitness.
What clothing should you wear?
The OFAT requires candidates to wear specific clothing for the test. Permitted items include simple short- or long-sleeved shirts, regular sports pants, cargo trousers, boots or trainers. Candidates should not wear tank tops, very short sleeve t-shirts, skins, skirts, leggings, watches or jewellery because of the nature of the tasks that they will perform. They should also avoid wearing fashionable shoes such as converse, pumps or heels.
What do you have to know about failing and re-take?
Candidates can fail the OFAT on several grounds. Those taking the test must not run at any stage. If testing personnel sees a candidate running, they will issue a warning. If a candidate runs for a second time, they will fail the test and will have to re-take it.
Candidates will also fail the test if they drop any piece of equipment during the tasks. At this point, organisers will conclude the assessment immediately.
OFAT rules allow one re-attempt if a recruit fails their first physical assessment. Candidates can take a second test on any day during the recruitment campaign's physical assessment period. Candidates must complete the evaluation from start to finish successfully on the second attempt to pass.
The 3 Parts of the OFAT
The fitness test for QFES comprises three parts, each assessing candidates' abilities in different ways.
Part 1 - Crash Rescue Equipment Hold
Part one of the OFAT is designed to simulate a road crash rescue situation (station 1).
Candidates must first wear appropriate personal protective equipment (helmets and gloves) and then complete a series of timed holds of rescue equipment at three different positions. To pass this test segment, recruits must perform the holds in under 4 minutes and 10 seconds.
If candidates are successful, organisers give them a two-minute break before proceeding to part two.
Part 2 - Physical Ability Test
Part 2 of the assessment is designed to test the physical fitness of Queensland Fire and Emergency Services recruits. Candidates must complete tasks at six stations (stations 2-7) designed to test all aspects of their fitness and muscular endurance.
During the test, candidates must wear a 20 kg weighted vest to simulate the breathing apparatus that firefighters must wear. They must also wear a harness - again to simulate real-world conditions.
For safety reasons, OFAT organisers do not allow running during the physical ability test phase.
Part 3 - High-Pressure Hose Reel Drag
Part three requires candidates to drag a high-pressure hose reel for 90 metres (station 8). Candidates must complete the task in less than 3 minutes and 24 seconds.
If candidates complete all three parts of the OFAT successfully, they will pass.
The 8 Stations of the OFAT
The OFAT breaks down tasks into various "stations." We'll share an overview of these stations and how you should prepare for these tasks.
Station 1 - Road Crash Rescue Cutter Hold
At station 1, candidates must hold a Holmatro hydraulic rescue cutter NCT II 4050 at three positions for 20 seconds each. The goal is to simulate using hydraulic rescue tools in the event of an accident. The cutter (or simulated testing equipment) weighs 19 kg.
Candidates are allowed to touch their bodies with the rescue cutter, but they cannot rest on it. If the candidate cannot keep the tool parallel to the ground, they will receive a warning. If the tool droops towards the ground twice, they will fail.
Station 2 - Low-Level High-Rise Stair Climb
The low-level high-rise stair climb tests candidates' cardiovascular performance, simulating the level of fitness they might require during a fire rescue attempt. Candidates must wear a 20 kg vest plus two 6kg shoulder straps to mimic the weight of fire rescue equipment. They must then climb for three minutes on a StairMaster climbing machine at a rate of 60 steps per minute.
Candidates fail if they dismount the Stair Master more than three times during the warm-up period. They also fail if they step off the StairMaster during the 3-minute test or grab any safety equipment.
Station 3 - Forcible Entry
The forcible entry test is designed to simulate the physical challenge of using forced entry equipment to breach a door or a wall during a rescue attempt. Candidates must use a sledgehammer to smash a force plate.
The OFAT sledgehammer weighs 4.5 kg. Candidates must strike a target with a minimum level of force to pass the test. Assessors will only stop the test once the force plate reaches the desired position. At the end of the test, candidates must place the sledgehammer standing upright.
Candidates fail this part of the test if they miss the target area with the sledgehammer. They also fail if they release the sledgehammer from their hands while swinging or fail to maintain control of it in some other way.
Station 4 - Ladder Raise, Extend, House And Lower
Station 4 tests candidates' ability to use ladders in situations similar to those a real firefighter would encounter. Candidates must:
Assessors check to make sure that candidates are raising and lowering ladders in the correct fashion. Candidates, for instance, must lower the ladder to the ground by walking backwards and using a hand over hand technique.
Candidates can fail this task if they miss rungs during the raise and lower process, lose control of the ladder, or the ladder makes contact with their helmets.
Station 5 - Equipment Haul
Firefighters often have to haul equipment from a lower level to an upper level. Station 5, therefore, simulates this. Candidates must first climb onto an elevated platform. They must then haul a 15 kg weight up to the platform before lowering it back down again in a controlled manner. The OFAT requires two evolutions of the haul and lower process.
Recruits can fail station 5 if they neglect to use the proper continuous hand over hand technique to lower the weight. They can also fail if they drop the weight, lose control of it or allow the rope to slip through their hands.
Station 6 - Flaked Hose Drag
After the equipment haul, candidates must drag a dry hose to a designated area past an obstacle and drag more of the hose to a marked square on the ground. Candidates must have one knee on the ground at all times during the test.
The goal is to introduce candidates to what it is like to take an empty hose and nozzle from the fire truck to the fire site as a firefighter in full PPE. It gives candidates a feel for what it is like to pull through a lot of hose to the desired location in a building.
If candidates stand up or sit on their feet while kneeling, assessors will issue a warning. Candidates will also receive a warning if any part of their body goes out of the square. Candidates can receive a total of two warnings at station 6. A third warning will constitute a failure.
Station 7 - Life Rescue
Life rescue simulates what it would be like to remove a casualty from a building. Candidates must drag an 85 kg mannequin (weighing the same as the average Australian adult) out of an area to a preset marker 15 metres away and then back to its starting point.
Candidates fail the test if they allow the mannequin to touch the turn marker. They also fail if they stop twice during the test or fall over.
Station 8 - Hose Reel Drag
The final station is designed to simulate a situation in which firefighters arrive at an incident where the truck cannot get closer to the fire. The test requires candidates to grasp the nozzle of the hose and part of the first two metres of line and then walk with the hose 45 meters.
Following that, candidates must then walk back to the hose reel drum and grab the line again to walk out the second 45 metres of the hose's full 90-metre length. Because of the weight of the hose, candidates are allowed to complete the task in two steps.
Candidates get one warning if they walk backwards with the hose or drag the nozzle along the ground at any stage. A second warning constitutes a failure.
The OFAT is a test of physical strength, endurance and fitness. But it is also more than that. It examines your ability to operate safely and have your wits about you in potentially dangerous situations. It is, therefore, a highly practical test of physical and mental ability.
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