OLDS — Six members of the Olds Fire Department are planning to take part in the annual Firefighter Stair Climb Challenge this year.
Those team members are Christal Raven, Mike Harris, Mike Lipiec, Sam Lutz, Corey Piller and Noel D’arcy, who serves as a spokesman for the team.
For the second year in a row, the challenge will run virtually – from May 2-15, due to COVID-19 pandemic restrictions. In a new wrinkle this year, members of the public are also invited to participate.
Money raised goes to support Wellspring Calgary, which provides support, resources and programs for people living with cancer and those who care about them.
Participants are challenged to climb stairs or mountains anywhere that suits them between May 2 and 15. D’arcy for example, plans to climb Scotsman’s Hill in Calgary on May 15. That’s where last year’s Olds team climbed.
Participants are asked to record their climb on an electronic device, then upload it to the Calgary Stair Climb organizers via then they will tally all the results.
To be eligible for prizes, participants need to climb 1204 stairs or 774 feet (236 metres) of elevation.
If you just simply want to donate to the cause and support the Olds firefighters, you can, by clicking on the donate tab at calgarystairclimb.com and search for the Olds Fire tab.
In previous years, the challenge has involved firefighters climbing all 1,204 steps of The Bow tower in Calgary in full firefighter gear. That includes the SCBA (self contained breathing apparatus — those big cylinders firefighters carry on their backs at a fire). All that gear can weigh an extra 50 pounds or so.
Because of the height of the building, the number of stairs and Calgary’s high elevation, in past years, the event has attracted competitive firefighters from across the globe.
D’Arcy is proud of the team.
“They’ve been signed up for a while, actively fundraising through social media, through email and stuff like that. Pretty similar crowd to last year. One or two new faces,” he said. “They’re pretty determined to go get it done."
He admits it will be rather lonely this year without the camaraderie of the team climbing with him.
“It is, it is. But in light of restrictions and COVID right now, it’s the safer thing to do,” he said.
“There’s nothing more we’d like to do than get together but as a fire department and as firefighters, we have to set a good example. We’re not exempt from any of the social distancing rules and regulations.”