Imagine running up 48 storeys, 739 steps. Now imagine doing it in full firefighting get up with an oxygen tank strapped to your back, adding 20 kilos of extra weight to your climb.
Five Hope firefighters were brave enough to make the climb, at a charity event Feb. 18 benefitting the BC Lung Association. It was the first time for Hope Fire Department’s Monica Cummins, Shawn Eldridge and Branden Stewart. It was Thomas Cameron’s third time and Rebecca Arrowsmith’s fourth taking part in the challenging climb up the Sheraton Wall Centre’s Tower 5.
Last year Arrowsmith finished first of all the female firefighters, although she said she was disappointed as she was unable to beat her goal of 10 minutes, landing at 10 minutes 16 seconds. This year there was no disappointment, as Arrowsmith again became the fastest female firefighter with a time of nine minutes 45 seconds.
Monica Cummins said the training for the climb, which had the team out practicing in the Hope area at least once a week, has made her a better firefighter. After practicing climbing stairs with her gear and a mask, she said she is able to keep her mask on longer.
Fire chief Tom DeSorcy cheered the team on from the stage, as one of the MCs and a director at the BC Lung Association.
The event, called Climb the Wall: Stairclimb for Clean Air, challenges participants physically and gives them an added challenge of fundraising for the fight against lung disease. The five-person Hope team had raised $4,408 as of press time: the event this year raised a total of just over $50,000.
“The money goes to the BC Lung Association, supporting world-class research as well as advocacy, education programs,” said Christopher Lam, president and CEO of the BC Lung Association.
The cause is an urgent one, Lamb added, as one in five Canadians suffer from some form of lung disease.
“They might have asthma, COPD, emphysema, could be a bunch of things. Those are the people we really want to help,” he said.
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