Two firefighters from the Eltham Fire Brigade are getting ready to count their steps, all 1103 of them.

Kevin Barry and Ryan Orchard will be participating in this year's Sky Tower Challenge where firefighters are challenged to climb 1103 stairs, 51 floors in their full breathing apparatus (BA) kits which weigh 25kg.

The money they raise will be going towards the Leukaemia & Blood Cancer New Zealand charity.

While it is Ryan's first time entering the challenge, it will be the fourth time for Kevin, who says he isn't sure Ryan has yet realised just how tough the challenge is.


"I think you only really realise once you get on those stairs in all your gear. All the training we do is great, but there is no way to replicate the actual atmosphere on the day and the heat in the tower."

But Kevin says he is confident in both his own and Ryan's abilities to complete the challenge.

"We have been busy training and we are both really dedicated to it. Once you get going on those stairs, and you think about why you are doing this, how the fundraising really makes a difference to people, it just helps you keep on going up all those stairs."

Kevin says he thinks everyone has some kind of connection to someone who benefits from the fundraising.

"You might not know someone yourself, but a friends of yours might. Michael Jago from the Eltham Four Square told me about the child of a son of one of his friends who had leukaemia. I put his picture on my helmet when I did the stair climb that year and it helped me focus."

The boy is in remission now, says Kevin.

"And knowing that in some small way, our efforts fundraising for this could have helped, is just great. It's good to have been part of it."

Ryan says he too has known of people impacted by leukaemia or blood cancer.


"I've had a few family members who have passed away from cancer."

Entering the challenge was a way to help, he says.

"It's a challenge and it raises money for a good cause."

While it is Ryan's first time entering the challenge, he is already talking about it not being the last.

'I'll see how it goes this time around and go from there. I might have a goal time next year."

Ryan's wife Tracey and Kevin's wife Wendy are helping their husbands with their fundraising efforts, setting up a display in Eltham Four Square where people can donate.

Tracey says she is pleased to help.

"The funds they have raised over the years has saved many lives. A lot of hard work and time goes into a huge event like this and it pays off majorly."

■ The Sky Tower Challenge takes place on May 18. To donate money for the event, you can donate at Eltham Four Square in the fire helmet or visit the website: