Firefighters step up to challenge
What’s the difference between a firefighter and boil-in-the-bag rice?
Nothing when the firefighter is running up 50 flights of stairs, according to the Plimmerton Volunteer Fire Brigade.
Nine firefighters from the unit will run up the Sky Tower in their 25 kilogram uniforms in the annual Sky Tower Challenge leukaemia fundraiser on May 19. It is the first time the brigade has participated in the event.
Training is hot work, with the firefighters steaming inside their overalls.
‘‘Just imagine, these suits are made to keep the heat out,’’ Plimmerton volunteer Toby Wootton says.
The brigade has been training by running up office blocks in Wellington, but even the Majestic Centre is only 29 stories high, so the team has to pause their training to get downstairs again.
Their latest idea is to run the full 1103 steps on a stairmaster at the gym.
All this training benefits the firefighters for their volunteer work, volunteer Fenn Langbein says.
‘‘It makes you that much fitter for the job as well and it brings the brigade together as a team.’’
The hard work is worth it to raise funds for leukaemia sufferers, he says.
‘‘ It’s a great cause, so it’s something we’re happy to throw our weight behind. It affects a lot of people.’’
Plimmerton brigade has so far raised half its $5000 target.
Titahi Bay Volunteer Fire Brigade, meanwhile, is the country’s top fundraising brigade, with $7700 collected so far.
Volunteer firefighter Kurt Walsh says $2200 of its funds came from a generous donation from the Porirua Club.
This is the second year Titahi Bay brigade has entered the Sky Tower Challenge and has doubled its training after struggling at last year’s race.
‘‘We’re putting in a lot more training. We sort of went in unprepared last year.’’
The six Titahi Bay entrants are training together three or four times a week and also hitting the gym individually.
They began by running up Colonial Knob and now run up the 11- storey BNZ Tower in Porirua central business district five times in several intense 15-minute training sessions per week.
Each Titahi Bay entrant aims to finish the Sky Tower Challenge in under 15 minutes – last year none did, Mr Walsh says.
To sponsor the Plimmerton brigade, visit pvfb. org. nz. To sponsor the Titahi Bay brigade, visit firefightersclimb. org. nz/ view_group_event_profile/173.
Stair masters: Plimmerton volunteer firefighters Jon Kneebone and Toby Wootton are training at Arena Fitness Centre for their first Sky Tower Challenge in May, where they will run up 51 flights of stairs to raise funds for leukaemia research.