Twelve minutes of pain was all it took for volunteer firefighters from Lake Okareka to win the team section of the Firefighter Sky Tower Challenge for the fifth consecutive year.

Seven volunteers took on the challenge to climb the towers' 51 flights of stairs and the team score was taken from the three fastest climbers.

Volunteer Phil Muldoon attributed the team's annual success to dedication to training and fundraising.

"It's all above what's required. They are all volunteers taking time out to do it and it builds a good team. We get on well with the Ngongotahā crew and they provided good competition," he said.

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The event is the biggest annual fundraiser for Leukaemia & Blood Cancer New Zealand and the station raised more than $6500 this year, adding to the more than $30,000 raised in the past five years.

A total of 950 firefighters, between 16 and 76 years old, from around the country took on the Sky Tower's 1103 stairs carrying a full firefighting kit weighing up to 25kg on Saturday .

To prepare for the climb the Lake Okareka team trains in the stairwell at Novotel Rotorua, climbing the stairs 10 times is equivalent to one Sky Tower.

Volunteer Quinn McCarthy, 17, said training was more difficult as you had to keep going back down to the bottom of the stairs at the Novotel where as the Sky Tower was a continuous climb.

"What kept me going was you couldn't go back down," he said.

"The hardest part was looking at the number on the stairs. I got to 20 and was thinking 'This is going to be a long climb'."

Matthew Carroll said heat exhaustion was the hardest thing to battle.

"This was my first time doing [the challenge]. The stairs are hard but it's the heat and the mental side of things. You hear people keeling over and you think about what you're doing it for and it keeps you going," he said.

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Carroll said he was eager to participate again next year, as he now knew what to expect.

Muldoon's daughter, Amber, 18, placed sixth in the women's climb and said the heat and the claustrophobia was the biggest challenge.

Placings:
- Lewis Shaw: Third in the male open category - 11 minutes 54 seconds.
- Thomas Firth: Fourth in the male open category - 11 minutes 57 seconds.
- Samuel Weir: Fifth in the male open category - 12 minutes 28 seconds.
- Quinn McCarthy: Sixth in the male open category - 12 minutes 40 seconds.
- Matthew Carroll: 15th in the male open category - 15 minutes 49 seconds.
- Philip Muldoon: Sixth in the male grand masters category: 15 minutes 14 seconds.
- Amber Muldoon: Sixth in the female open category - 19 minutes 20 seconds.