Firefighters ready to show some tower power

NEIL RATLEY
Last updated 05:00 18/05/2012

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The heat begins to take its toll soon after the firefighters enter the building, and the burning sensation kicks in minutes later.

But Riverton firefighters Helen Bull and Craig Ward won't be extinguishing any flames – they will be competing in the Sky Tower Challenge Leukaemia and Blood Foundation fundraiser in Auckland tomorrow.

"The heat generated by climbing the Sky Tower in full fire kit gets pretty intense," Mrs Bull said.

"We also have to carry our breathing apparatus, which weighs 25 kilograms."

Competing in a race on flat ground in firefighting gear would be a challenge for most people, but it gets a bit tougher when 51 flights of stairs are involved.

"We start in the basement of the Sky Tower and have to go up 1103 steps," Mrs Bull said.

This is the second time the volunteer firefighters will take on the tower.

"We decided to go back after four of us completed the challenge in 2011," Mrs Bull said.

Fellow Riverton volunteer firefighter Anthony Haines had also intended heading back but broke his ankle playing rugby, Mrs Bull said.

Last year, Mrs Bull climbed all 51 floors in 26min 36sec, with Mr Ward's time 17min 22sec. Both aim to get to the top faster this time.

"We learned a lot from last year which will hopefully stand us in good stead, and apart from the personal challenge, the race is for a fantastic cause," Mr Ward said.

"Hopefully I'll have the fitness to get to the top quicker than last year, but in the end it's a great weekend with a great atmosphere and well worth the pain."

The Firefighter Sky Tower Stair Climb is in its ninth year and its fundraising will break the $1million mark if it can raise more than $220,000 this weekend.

The event sold out in record time, with firefighters from New Zealand and overseas all racing for a bird's-eye view of Auckland and a good cause.

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- The Southland Times

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