Local firefighters are stepping up to the challenge this year, with training and fundraising well under way for the annual Firefighter Sky Tower Stair Challenge.

On May 19, 950 firefighters from around the country will take on the 1103 stairs of Auckland's Sky Tower raising funds for Leukaemia & Blood Cancer New Zealand.

This year firefighters ranging in age from 16 to 76 will gear up with full firefighting kit and breathing apparatus weighing up to 25kg.

Ngongotaha Volunteer Fire Brigade chief Francis Boag said it had a pretty good set up this year.

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"It's all for a good cause."

While he said his training had not been quite as "extreme" as the rest of the team he was one of 10 members who would be taking part.

"It's always a really good build up, and the atmosphere up there on the day is always amazing.

"The team has been great and the public has been really supportive."

The team has already raised more than $7000 through fundraising efforts.

Boag took his hat off to the team's biggest competition, the Lake Okareka team, the fastest three donned finishers last year.

"They've got a great bunch and it's great what they can achieve."

Ngongotaha volunteer firefighter Anna Simmonds is getting nervous for the big climb. Photo/Ben Fraser
Ngongotaha volunteer firefighter Anna Simmonds is getting nervous for the big climb. Photo/Ben Fraser

For first time climber Anna Simmons, the 25kg she'll be lugging up 51 flights of stairs has a special significance.

"What I'm going to climb up the sky tower in, in a few weeks time, is the weight that I've actually lost."

Simmons said she was "very nervous" but had been going "hard out" on her training.

"The worry is that I won't complete it, but I am driven, and I am motivated so if I have to I will crawl to the top.

"I only plan on doing it once, but everyone says people always say that and then do it again."

Across New Zealand, about 200 brigades and their firefighters are holding popular fundraisers such as car washes, sausage sizzles and quiz nights. More unusual events include hypnotist evenings and guessing the number of Lego bricks in a 10kg fire truck.

To date this year, firefighters have raised more than $400,000 towards a fundraising target of $1 million.

The funds raised will help Leukaemia & Blood Cancer New Zealand run their vital nationwide service supporting Kiwis and their families who are living with a blood cancer.

By the numbers
- 51 flights of stairs
- 1103 individual steps
- At 328m the Sky Tower is the tallest building in the Southern Hemisphere
- Firefighters will wear up to 25kg of kit
- 950 firefighters will race up the Sky Tower in 2018

Leukaemia & Blood Cancer New Zealand
- Leukaemia & Blood Cancer New Zealand (LBC) is the national charity dedicated to supporting patients and their families living with blood cancers and related blood conditions. www.leukaemia.org.nz
- LBC does not receive government funding – the dollars raised from the Firefighter Sky Tower Stair Challenge help fund our core services including patient support, support and funding for research, awareness and advocacy
To support a brigade visit: www.firefightersclimb.org.nz

Key facts about blood cancers
- Every day, six New Zealanders are diagnosed with a blood cancer that's about 2200 New Zealanders a year
- The cause of blood cancers is unknown.
- These diseases can strike anyone, of any age, at any time, without warning.
- Immediate treatment may be necessary and that treatment can go on for months or even years.