By Kiet Do

(KPIX 5) — Courtney Rypstra’s future career as a firefighter will come down to 10 grueling minutes. She is training to pass the infamous “candidate physical ability test,” also known as the CPAT.

The test is a laundry list of rigorous physical tasks designed to weed out the unfit, and see if you’ve got what it takes to be a firefighter. This whole training program is the brainchild of Shay Mountford, a 15-year veteran of a local agency, who still on active duty.

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Last month, Mountford started Blaze of Glory Fitness, the only training program of its kind in the Bay Area, because she saw too many smart, otherwise qualified candidates failing the physical test.

“You can be in great baseball shape, you can be a great runner, but to be a great firefighter, you have to be in, I call it, academy shape, or fire shape.”

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Getting into “fire shape” is no easy task, it requires practicing wearing a 50-pound weight vest, swinging a sledge hammer to simulate a door breach, crawling around searching for survivors, dragging a 165-pound person to safety and a number of other difficult physical feats. All things that can make the difference between life and death.

“Anytime a firefighter, the more fit they are, the better off they are for themselves and the better off they are for our public. And that society, our people, the communities that we serve, that’s what they want to see, they want to see fit firefighters.” says Mountford.

The cutoff time for the CPAT is 10 minutes, 20 seconds. For Rypstra, after weeks of training to pass her test, it’s time to celebrate a big milestone. She credit’s Mountford’s program with helping her achieve her goal,  “This training has definitely prepared me 100 percent.”

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