Firefighters must often wear a face mask to protect themselves from smoke and other toxins. However, the face mask can also make it harder to breathe. That is why FDNY Firefighter candidates are required to undergo a comprehensive medical assessment, which includes having their lung health evaluated via a Pulmonary Function Test (PFT).
The PFT measures breathing capacity and air flow to ensure that a Firefighter can do their job safely, even under the most strenuous conditions.
What You Need to Know
The PFT assesses air flow in the lungs during inhalation and exhalation.
The PFT is conducted by an EMT who uses a device called a spirometer.
The spirometer measures your ability to expand your lungs and breathe out a full breath, as well as the speed at which the air comes out.
You will be instructed to take the deepest breath you can, blast the air out as fast and hard as possible, and inhale again.
You will have eight chances to get three accurate readings. Only your best result will count toward your test score.
Further evaluation may be required if your score is lower than predicted based on your height and other factors.
Watch the FDNY Pulmonary Function Test, Step by Step
Preparing for the PFT
Maintaining good lung health is the best thing you can do to ensure that you pass the PFT. However, there are some specific recommendations for the day of your test:
Do not consume alcohol for at least four hours before the PFT.
Do not eat a large meal for at least two hours prior.
Do not smoke for at least one hour.
Do not exercise for at least 30 minutes before the test.
Do not wear tight clothes that may restrict your breathing.
The PFT is just one of the many medical tests you will undergo as a Firefighter candidate. For more information on what to expect, download the “Guidance for Firefighter Candidates Concerning Medical Assessment” document.
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