Fire­fight­ers up for chal­lenge

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RACHAEL KELLY Waikaia’s hills are alive with the sound of fire­fight­ers huff­ing and puff­ing at the mo­ment.

Four vol­un­teers from the town’s brigade are pre­par­ing to take part in the Fire­fighter Sky Tower Stair Chal­lenge in Auck­land on Satur­day.

They’ll tackle the build­ing’s 51 flights of stairs, or 1103 in­di­vid­ual steps, wear­ing their full fire­fight­ing kit which weighs 25kg.

With a lack of tall build­ings to train in, fire­fight­ers Jamie Deans, Nigel Bal­dock, Scott McKee and Jake Sole have been tak­ing to the hill coun­try around the town to up their fit­ness in prepa­ra­tion for the an­nual fundraiser.

It will be the first time fire­fight­ers from the town’s brigade will take part in the climb and they’re hop­ing the lack of ac­tual stair climb­ing won’t hin­der them on the day.

Deans said it was a per­sonal chal­lenge for all of them and rais­ing funds and aware­ness for Leukaemia & Blood Can­cer New Zealand was a bonus.

‘‘I started run­ning about Christ­mas time and I’ve been do­ing a bit of hill walk­ing and stuff like that.

‘‘We’re in for a bit of sweat and pain for about 15 to 20 min­utes.

‘‘We just de­cided to give it a go. Other brigades do it so we thought we’d give it a crack.’’

The Waikaia brigade held a mar­ket day with raf­fles, an auc­tion and a town work­out led by Craze Stu­dio fit­ness in­struc­tor Kaz Ansell.

Gold­min­ing com­pany Waikaia Gold do­nated gold nuggets to be auc­tioned and lo­cal woman Jac­qui Burgess raised $800 by shav­ing off her hair.

The four fire­fight­ers have raised more than $9000 for the cause, which was ‘‘a pretty good ef­fort for a small town’’, Deans said.

Last year 900 fire­fight­ers climbed to the top of the Sky Tower, which at 328 me­tres, is the tallest build­ing in the south­ern hemi­sphere.

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