Firefighters to feel the burn
Climbing Colonial Knob in full firefighter gear is not fun at all, but Andre Laporte figures he has to.
Three times a week the Titahi Bay volunteer straps on his jacket, puls the oxygen tank onto his back – all up, about 25kg of gear – and sets off up the steep steps at the north end of Porirua’s landmark.
‘‘I try to mix it up a bit – there’s a place in Tawa where I climb steps as well,’’ he said. ‘‘Doing this was hard to get used to, but it has to be done.’’
Laporte and three Titahi Bay colleagues, along with many others from the brigades in the Porirua basin, will tackle the Firefighter Sky Tower Stair Challenge on May 28.
It’s an annual event, growing in popularity since kicking off in 2005, and raises money for Leukaemia & Blood Cancer New Zealand.
More than 850 firefighters from 200 brigades will race up the 1103 steps or 51 flights of stairs in the Sky Tower this year, in full gear.
The fastest time is about six minutes; the average time, Laporte said, is about 20 minutes.
Titahi Bay deputy chief fire officer Paul Cox is even shaving his moustache off to raise money. The hope is for the brigade, through sponsorship and fundraising events, to raise $6000.
‘‘It’s good for the profile of the fire service, because we want to show that we’re doing this for the community we live in and for a great cause,’’ Cox said.
Firefighter Liam Paul said their families were crucial as the brigade members juggled work, training for the challenge and callouts.
Assistance has come from 24/7 Fitness in Parumoana St, which is giving the Titahi Bay crew two treadmills and free memberships throughout their training.
Porirua City Council parking and environmental inspector Marlise de Vries, a volunteer firefighter with the Porirua brigade, has joined colleagues Paul Setefano and Xan Ione in rattling buckets in full firefighting kit at supermarkets.
‘‘I’ve been very humbled by the people we have encountered while fundraising and the generosity of the Porirua community has blown me away,’’ she said.
Go to firefighters.climb.org and click on ‘‘search for a firefighter’’ to look for an individual or a brigade to support.
From left, Andre Laporte, Robbie Maclnarlin, Liam Paul and Paul Cox will be flying the Titahi Bay flag at the Sky Tower on May 28.