The Quest For Female Firefighter Applicants To Pass Rigorous Test

Fire Chief Richard Thode wants more female firefighters on the department. Next month the city will learn if an ongoing recruitment and training campaign will pay off. Applications are now open see here for the next entry level class. June 7 is the deadline to apply.

The city expects to hire 50-60 firefighters over the life of the two-year testing list. Nearly 50 percent of the roughly 300-member force has 25 or more years of service so the city anticipates dozens of retirements.

Applicants must be at least 18 years of age, a non-smoker in good physical condition and CPAT certified. What’s that? The Candidate Physical Ability Test, a state-administered rigorous training and testing process that’s required in many fire departments, including applicants in Bridgeport. It’s no picnic in the park to win certification, something that retired Bridgeport firefighters Donald Day and Ron Mackey assert in the OIB comments section is a barrier to hiring female firefighters, an attractive teamwork public service profession.

CPAT certification became a standard under then Bridgeport Fire Chief Brian Rooney about 10 years ago. Since that time not one female firefighter has been hired. The city’s on a campaign to recruit more female firefighters leveraged with a public outreach about preparing for the CPAT process. See the CPAT Orientation Guide.

Mayor Joe Ganim, who’ll be 60 years old in October, endured the test himself and passed, as he notes in the video above. Ganim is extraordinarily fit.

Ganim testing for CPAT.

Given the right training more women are prepared for the physical demands that require core body and leg leverage support, according to those who’ve passed the test.

The test includes wearing a 50-pound vest to simulate firefighter activities as well as an additional 25 pounds of weights on shoulders for a stair climb challenge. Eight obstacles must be completed in under 10 minutes and 20 seconds.
1. Stair Climb
2. Hose Drag
3. Equipment Carry
4. Ladder Raise & Extension
5. Forcible Entry
6. Search
7. Rescue
8. Ceiling Breach & Pull

Here’s a story about a female firefighter in Albany who passed the test.

Screen shot of female firefighter applicant.

Women comprise about 3.5 percent, roughly the national average, of the city’s 300-member force, something Thode wants to improve upon as the department faces dozens of retirements. This latest class is expected to fill about 12 positions, but dozens more over the life of the 2-year testing list.

The city offered scholarships to Bridgeport residents that could prove a financial hardship for the cost of the application process. About 20 female applicants have received assistance.

Lieutenant Necole Dundy-Pittman who is part of the city’s recruitment team has worked with a core group of 60 females in CPAT preparation at the city’s local training facility on River Street in advance of the state-administered facility in Meriden. About a dozen already have become CPAT certified.

At center Lieutenant Necole Dundy-Pittman. CT Post photo.

Thode shared that based on conversations with the state “the skill level of the folks that went through our CPAT training center is clearly evident vs. the folks who did not.”

The chief adds it’s too early to provide a success rate of female CPAT applicants because the testing process does not end for another five weeks. The city testing process includes residency points to attract more Bridgeport residents.

CPAT applicants undergo a practice test, according to the chief. If they pass, they are done. If they fail, two weeks later they get another practice. If they pass they are done. If they fail they can compete one more time. So each candidate gets three attempts, two weeks apart.

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8 comments

  1. Lieutenant Necole Dundy-Pittman DID NOT have to pass the CPAT exam in order to get hired, NO female firefighter on the Bridgeport Fire Department has EVER HAD TO PASS the CPAT exam in order to get hired BUT they are ALL good firefighters and some have advance in their firefighter career WITHOUT passing CPAT. What the hell is wrong with this picture?

  2. I have never commented on this topic before because I am not knowledgeable about testing requirements, however it does appear sexism or gender discrimination is at play.

    Is the purpose of the test to block women from becoming firefighters?

  3. There is NO COST to the City for requiring all candidates to pass CPAT because the candidates must pay the cost but the City will underwrite some candidates but the does nothing but take the results and apply the results for the next the step in the testing process. That results NEVER has a female who has been hired. There was absolutely nothing wrong with the agility test that the was using before in which EVERY female who has been hired has passed. Hartford and New Haven DO NOT use CPAT and they have NO problem hiring women. Why is it that females can pass the agility test for the police department but not the fire department and why hasn’t anybody asked the question why and let’s make the changes.

  4. There is no fire department in the State that uses CPAT that has more than one or two women on their department, NONE. Bridgeport had hired women for 30 consecutive years until David Dunn started using CPAT. Was there a problem with women being physically unfit to do the job? No because as a company officer for the 2nd largest fire house in the city I had the pleasure of working with and supervising numerous women and they all without exception did the job as well as any man. If not then the only reason to change from the physical agility that every woman in the history of the BFD used would be to NOT HIRE WOMEN! There is no fire department in the country that uses CPAT that hires women at any appreciable level, NONE!

    Lieutenant Necole Dundy-Pittman needs to be ashamed of herself for supporting a system that eliminates women from the fire Service especially when she has succeeded in a career that didn’t require her to pass CPAT. She’s an embarrassment to not only women, but to Black’s because according to David Dunn women are the new Black’s and we weren’t welcomed on the BFD either. I would say shame on David Dunn and Mayor Ganim, but both have shown time and time again that neither has any shame.

  5. Now I don’t know anything about female firefighters but I do know Bridgeport.
    And when something doesn’t make sense, it probably make perfect CENTS if you know what I mean.

  6. Fire Chief Richard Thode came up from the ranks as a firefighter to become the fire chief without taking a CPAT exam to get hired. The Bridgeport Fire Department has women as Lieutenants, Fire Inspector in the Fire Marshall Division, Pumper Engineers and they DIDN’T take the CPAT exam to get hired but they were able to move up through the ranks with hard work. Mayor Joe Ganim, Fire Chief Richard Thode and David need to tell the taxpayers why they don’t want women to become firefighters and why with the evidence right in front of for over 11 years on why NO FEMALES have been hired. They can hold a press conference or put out a press release with all of the facts and reasons on why they can’t hire women.

  7. Above in the article,”Lieutenant Necole Dundy-Pittman who is part of the city’s recruitment team has worked with a core group of 60 females in CPAT preparation at the city’s local training facility on River Street in advance of the state-administered facility in Meriden. About a dozen already have become CPAT certified.” Base just on those numbers that means that there’s 80% failure rate now what is the rate for men? I hope that the mayor would post him passing the entire CPAT in the time frame that is set instead of him passing one part without going directly to the next station of the exam.

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