Work Capacity Test (WCT)

What is Work Capacity Test (WCT)?

Work Capacity Test (WCT) meaning in Safety terms is

  • A family of tests to determine firefighter physical capabilities. Work capacity tests are used to ensure that persons assigned to fire activities are physically capable of performing the duties of wildland firefighting and to meet National Wildfire Coordinating Group (NWCG) standards for wildland firefighters (Wildland Fire Qualification Subsystem Guide 310-1, NWCG, 1993). The WCT is a family of tests to determine firefighter physical capabilities at three levels:


    • Arduous: “Duties involve field work requiring physical performance calling for above-average endurance and superior conditioning. These duties may include an occasional demand for extraordinarily strenuous activities in emergencies under adverse environmental conditions and over extended periods. Requirements include running, walking, climbing, jumping, twisting, bending, and lifting more than 50 pounds; the pace of work typically is set by the emergency condition.” 
    • Moderate: “Duties involve field work requiring complete control of all physical faculties and may include considerable walking over irregular ground, standing for long periods, lifting 25 to 50 pounds, climbing, bending, stooping, squatting, twisting, and reaching. Occasional demands may be required for moderately strenuous activities in emergencies over long periods. Individuals usually set their own work pace.” 
    • Light: “Duties mainly involve office-type work with occasional field activity characterized by light physical exertion requiring basic good health. Activities may include climbing stairs, standing, operating a vehicle, and long hours of work, as well as some bending, stooping, or light lifting. Individuals almost always can govern the extent and pace of their physical activity”
    • Each performance level has its own unique Work Capacity Test:


      • Pack Test: The pack test is a job-related test of the capacity for arduous work. It consists of a 3-mile hike with a 45-pound pack over level terrain. A time of 45 minutes, the passing score for the test, approximates an aerobic fitness score of 45, the established standard for wildland firefighters.
      • Field Test: The field test is a job-related test of work capacity designed for those with moderately strenuous duties. It consists of a 2-mile hike with a 25-pound pack. A time of 30 minutes, the passing score, approximates an aerobic fitness score of 40.
      • Walk Test: The walk test is designed to determine the ability to carry out light duties. It consists of a 1-mile test with no load that approximates an aerobic fitness score of 35. A time of 16 minutes, the passing score for the test, ensures the ability to meet emergencies and evacuate to a safety zone.


reference: Glossary A – Z | National Wildfire Coordinating Group