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Stair for Bay fire crews raises nearly $4000

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Shane Baker and Aaron Waterreus.
Shane Baker and Aaron Waterreus.

It has to be one of the most gruelling challenges a firefighter faces - climbing 1103 flights of stairs in full fire fighting gear.

Te Puke firefighter Mark Deacon said a local team took part in the Firefighter Sky Tower Stair Challenge every year but this was his first.

"It's pretty gruelling. It's not easy but I've been training quite a bit," he said.

Mr Deacon spent recent months running and climbing the Papamoa Hills, often with a backpack filled with water or juice bottles and wearing two hoodies.

"I thought I was pretty prepared, but no. It's really hard," he said.

Mr Deacon and his crew - Campbell Wood, Liz Cooper, Josh Molan and Andrew Bestic - were spurred on in their climb by the thought of Te Puke boy Joshua Dale who has leukaemia, he said.

"Definitely about halfway and three-quarters of the way through I felt like stopping but the thought of helping this boy kept me going," Mr Deacon said.

The crew raised nearly $4000 for Leukaemia and Blood Cancer New Zealand and joined Tauranga firefighters Aaron Waterreus and Shane Baker in the challenge.

Mr Waterreus and Mr Baker, currently based in Rotorua, fundraised for the event by auctioning a day in the life of a firefighter on Trade Me to two people. They managed to raise about $3550.

Mr Waterreus managed to complete the climb, albeit at a slightly slower pace than last year.

"It's hard going," he said.

"You're in an enclosed stair case, your legs are hurting, your lungs are hurting.

"I've trained for a marathon but this is probably the most physically demanding challenge I've done."

Mark Deacon, Josh Molan and Liz Cooper climbed the Sky Tower in Auckland to help raise money for young leukaemia suffer Joshua Dale. Photo / Pauline Carney
Mark Deacon, Josh Molan and Liz Cooper climbed the Sky Tower in Auckland to help raise money for young leukaemia suffer Joshua Dale. Photo / Pauline Carney

Mr Waterreus said he drew on the reasons behind the event to help keep him going through the climb, people affected by leukaemia and blood cancer.

"It gives you a reason to do it other than the physical challenge that it is to climb the stairs. It gives you purpose," he said.

"A lot of guys have been touched personally by leukaemia and blood cancer so lots of people who climb dedicate their climb to someone. Many carry photos of people or cards with names."

Mr Baker said the climb was his first and he did not really know what to expect. "It was certainly hard work."

Firefighter Josh Harrison of Auckland's Mount Wellington Station had the fastest time - 8 minutes and 46 seconds.

Michelle Herrick of Auckland Airport Fire Rescue was the fastest woman, in 13 minutes and 1 second.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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