Firefighters turn up challenge heat

IAIN SCOTT
Last updated 12:00 16/04/2014

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Don't panic if you see firefighters packing your groceries or walking the wrong way up an escalator this week - it's all for a good cause.

Palmerston North firefighters will be in full gear while packing groceries at Pioneer New World from 5.30 this evening and tomorrow evening, and also next Wednesday and Thursday to raise funds for Leukaemia and Blood Cancer New Zealand.

Their Feilding counterparts, also in full gear, will be at Downtown on Broadway Ave, walking continuously up a downward-moving escalator from 11.30am on Saturday.

Both teams are also taking part in next month's Sky Tower Challenge, an annual event that sees fully-kitted firefighters from around the country racing up 51 flights, or 1103 steps to raise funds for the charity.

Palmerston North qualified firefighter Josh Dobson said there was no doubt firefighters in full gear packing groceries would surprise shoppers.

"It will raise a few questions, get them asking what we're doing and why we're doing it."

He said Palmerston North had a team of nine taking part in the Sky Tower Challenge.

There are six survivors from last year.

"We kind of overtrained for it last year. We got to the top and were expecting more," he said. "But it's quite a challenge. It's the heat that gets you."

He described training as "stairs, stairs and lots of stairs".

For the two Feilding Volunteer Fire Brigade entrants this year, the challenge will be a new experience.

Qualified firefighter Caleb Gardner said they had been training regularly, but probably needed to increase the pace.

"The fastest guys can run up the Sky Tower, which is 51 floors, in about 10 minutes," he said.

"We all have our different fitness levels, but I'm currently doing that at about 14 minutes, and after 14 minutes of climbing stairs with breathing apparatus on and all the weight, you feel like puking in your mask."

Walking continuously up a downward-moving escalator was his brainchild.

"I was thinking we could go to a supermarket and rattle a bucket and while we were doing that one of us could walk up and down a portable staircase, but I thought we can do better than that."

He said this year the Sky Tower Challenge aimed to raise $1 million to mark its 10th year.

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- Manawatu Standard

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