Firefighters in training for gruelling Sky Tower race

KATHRYN KING
Last updated 12:00 20/02/2013

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In a station first, Palmerston North volunteer firefighters have signed up for the physical challenge of their lives - the annual fundraising race up Auckland's Sky Tower.

Seven members of the station's volunteer operational support unit have decided to take on the Firefighter Sky Tower Stair Challenge on May 11, in the race to climb 51 flights - or 1103 Sky Tower steps - as fast as they can, wearing up to 25 kilograms of gear.

Three members of the team have been training for five months wearing and carrying about 20kg of gear up and down 14 flights of stairs multiple times.

Training for the event has been a departure from the team's usual activities.

The unit provides operational support, like traffic control, scene security and refreshments at incidents in Palmerston North, as well as surrounding areas.

Station officer Mike Renshaw has lost 8kg in the past five months of training.

"It has been a struggle for the first couple of months, but it is getting easier with each day," Mr Renshaw said.

The Sky Tower challenge raises money for Leukaemia and Blood Cancer New Zealand, and the team are on the fundraising trail. It's a cause they feel strongly about.

"It's great to have a goal and to help raise funds for a good cause, and to get to know the team better as we train. I am just loving it," station officer Paul Fowles said.

Assistant area manager for Manawatu Rodger Calder said the team was made up of "very committed" members of the public who wanted to put something back into their community.

"It takes a special type of person who is willing to give up their time freely to provide assistance at operational incidents 24/7."

The team have planned some events for the next couple of months as they raise funds, starting with Esplanade Day on February 24.

They will also be doing events in The Square, and have an Amazing Race-style public event closer to the date of the challenge.

Donations to the team can be left at the main fire station on Cook St, or at Manawatu TV and Sound on The Square.

The team plan to put a fundraising page up soon on the Leukaemia and Blood Cancer website where donations can be made.

For more information visit leukaemia.org.nz and to find out more about the Sky Tower challenge visit firefightersclimb.org.nz.

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- Manawatu Standard

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