Cochrane firefighters climbing The Bow building for charity
Monday, Apr 27, 2015 12:43 pm
Could you climb 1,204 stairs in 50 pounds of firefighting gear?
On May 3, Cochrane firefighters will ascend 775 feet, or 236 metres, in full bunker gear up The Bow – the ninth tallest building in Canada – to raise funds for Wellspring Calgary’s support services for people with cancer and their families.
According to the event’s official site, the event was created at the suggestion of the sister of Gord Paul, a Calgary firefighter who died in 2007 after a four-year battle with cancer. It claims to be the “highest elevation stair climb in the world” at 3,400 feet or roughly 1,036 metres above sea level.
Cochrane firefighter Brad Hoey, who’s team-lead for the climb, was candid about the challenge.
“It’s going to be a tough climb,” he acknowledged. “(But) everyone’s really excited who’s doing the (climb).”
Hoey and five members – Dave Levisky, Chris Chyka, Kevin Demeter, Bob Beer and Derek Orr – have been training for about a month. Along with their regular exercises, the team runs up and down their training tower at the facility in full gear, which has five flights of stairs. That includes a self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) – an air tank and mask – similar to scuba gear worn by divers.
Hoey said the SCBA constitutes the heaviest piece of gear at 40 pounds; akin to carrying a barbell squat rack at the gym.
Hoey predicted the start of the climb would be the most difficult part since their muscles won’t be fully prepared for the climb.
“Once we warm up, we should be fine.”
With all the hazards firefighters are exposed to – smoke, chemicals and building materials to name a few – Hoey said the climb touches them on a personal level.
Two department members were impacted by cancer. Services provided by Wellspring have great value to them in their fight against the disease, Hoey said.
Money raised leading up to the climb will go to fund support services provided by Wellspring Calgary.
“Sometimes we think of the diagnosis of cancer as only requiring medical care,” said Wellspring Calgary’s Executive Director Patti Morris. “But what we’ve learned is that the medical care alone isn’t enough to get back on your feet.”
The organization provides a number of non-medical services and programs for people and their families living with cancer, such as psychical activities, peer support, expressive arts and a program to help patients return to work – all free of charge.
Morris said the firefighters’ involvement is especially significant because of the risks of exposure to hazards on the job.
“We’re so mindful of the tremendous contribution firefighters make every day. It’s a privilege to work with them on a project like this, which we hope will ultimately be of some benefit to the firefighting community.”
Visit calgarystairclimb.ca to donate and select the “Show a Firefighter Support” tab. You can donate to a specific team member or the team itself, Cochrane Fire.
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