Next weekend firefighters from Sechelt, Gibsons and Roberts Creek will be donning their turnout gear to climb for a cause near to their hearts- — clean air.
A total of 15 local firefighters will be part of the BC Lung Association’s Climb the Wall: the Stairclimb for Clean Air on March 3.
Each participant will scale 48 storeys of the Sheraton Vancouver Wall Centre Hotel in full gear including boots, pants, coats with liners, helmets and gloves. Firefighters will rely on their self-contained breathing apparatuses for air throughout the entire climb.
Each participant must raise a minimum of $125 to take part, with all funds going to the BC Lung Association to be used for lung disease education and research programs.
Firefighters are disproportionately affected by lung disease, which is one reason Sechelt Fire Chief Bill Higgs said his members, Dagan Benner, Miles Williams, Cody Munson and Roger Joe, want to take part.
“Something that we are constantly aware of on the fire ground is the quality of the air. That’s why we wear the breathing apparatus,” Higgs said.
He also sees the event as an opportunity to display the fitness and dedication of his members.
“It’s a chance to showcase what we do in a non-emergency way,” he noted.
From the Roberts Creek Volunteer Fire Department, Stephanie McLeod, Sean Hatanaka and Chris Rose will be taking part in the March 3 climb. The trio has been training by hiking up Soames Hill in full turnout gear.
McLeod organized the team because she has a personal connection to someone suffering from lung cancer. She sees the climb as an opportunity to do something for that person and others who are afflicted with various lung diseases, Roberts Creek Fire Chief Rob Michael said.
“Sean Hatanaka is very community oriented and wants to do what he can to provide a healthier community while challenging himself physically with the actual climb,” Michael noted. “Chris Rose also saw it as an opportunity to give back and help others.”
In Gibsons, firefighters Cody Robinson, Keith Andrews, Anthony Browton, Neil Donovan, Rob Humphries, Tyler Nestman, Sebastian Sleep and Adam Vanderwoerd are taking part in the stair climb.
They all feel the climb is a good physical challenge and a great way to raise awareness about the importance of lung health.
Team leader Robinson said his crew has been training in their new gym facility at the Gibsons and District Volunteer Fire Department and by climbing up Soames Hill in full turnout gear.
This year’s Stairclimb for Clean Air will see about 100 firefighters from across the province take part as well as an estimated 400 community participants who will climb in street clothes for the cause.
To support a climber, register or find out more about the annual event go to www.stairclimb.ca.
The Gibsons department also has a Facebook page with a link to their team website where donations can be made and the Sechelt fire hall will accept donations on site.