Physical Requirements and Work Capacity Tests

Most wildland fire personnel engage in arduous activities. This requires not only a medical exam but also physical fitness testing to ensure you can perform the job safely.

Some wildland fire positions require lower levels of exertion and have different medical and physical fitness testing requirements.

The Devils Canyon Veterans Crew on a training run. Photo by Matt Irving, BLM.

Duty Types

Positions in wildland fire require testing to ensure you can perform the necessary physical activities safely. The positions are divided into three categories based on the level of exertion required.  The testing requirements are different for each category.

Arduous Duty

    Wildland firefighting (which includes positions such as firefighter, faller, or crew boss) involves arduous work. You must be able to perform the essential functions required by your position at any time. This work may include, but is not limited to, lifting and carrying more than 50 pounds, walking, climbing, running, jumping, flying in helicopters and fixed wing airplanes, working in remote locations and at high altitudes, working long hours, disrupted sleep, and irregular meals. View the Essential Functions and Work Conditions of a Wildland Firefighter factsheet to learn more.

      Moderate Duty

      Moderate duty positions (such as operations section chief or safety officer) require average endurance and conditioning, as well as complete control of all your physical faculties. Activities required by moderate duty positions include, but are not limited to, considerable walking over irregular ground, standing for long periods, lifting 25 to 50 pounds, climbing, bending, stooping, squatting, twisting, and reaching.

      Light Duty

      Light duty positions (such as incident communications technician or camp manager) require light physical exertion in field or office settings and basic good health. Activities include, but are not limited to, climbing stairs, standing, operating a vehicle, and long hours of work. Activities also include some bending, stooping, or light lifting. You can almost always govern the extent and pace of your physical activity.

      Work Capacity Tests

      Work capacity tests are job-related tests to determine your ability to perform the minimum physical standards for your position. There are three levels of tests, which correspond with the three duty types.

      • Pack Test (Arduous Duty): Complete a 3-mile walk over level terrain in 45 minutes or less while carrying a 45-pound pack. 
      • Field Test (Moderate Duty): Complete a 2-mile walk over level terrain in 30 minutes or less while carrying a 25-pound pack.
      • Walk Test (Light Duty): Complete a 1-mile walk over level terrain in 16 minutes or less (no pack carrying requirement).

      Arduous Duty Testing

      Arduous duty firefighting positions require a medical exam and a physical fitness test. You must complete your medical exam and receive a qualification certificate before you can participate in the pack test. Learn about this process on our medical exam webpage.

      Moderate and Light Duty Testing

      To participate in the field test for moderate duty positions or the walk test for light duty positions, you must first complete a health screening questionnaire.  Complete the questionnaire by following these steps:

      • Step 1: Contact your local Fire Management Officer. They will collect your information and enter it into the medical exam tracking system, Acuity-CHS. 
      • Step 2: Your local Fire Management Officer will then order your health screening questionnaire. 
      • Step 3: You’ll receive a registration email and directions to complete the health screening questionnaire.
      • Step 4: If cleared, you’ll receive a printable certificate that you can take to your work capacity test. The certificate of qualification can be printed through the Acuity-CHS system, or your local Fire Management Officer or human resources staff can print it for you.

      Frequently Asked Questions

      For more information, review our frequently asked questions for the Interior's Wildland Fire Medical Standards Program

      For one-on-one technical assistance or questions, please contact us at

      Was this page helpful?

      Please provide a comment