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Firefighters take on the Sky Tower

Featherston firefighters run up the Sky Tower. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

Two Wairarapa fire crews participated in the Firefighter Sky Tower Challenge, raising thousands of dollars to help those suffering from blood cancers.

Firefighters donned full fire-fighting gear on Saturday and ran up all 1103 steps to the top of the Sky Tower in central Auckland.

At 328m, the Sky Tower is the tallest building in the Southern Hemisphere

The gear, which included helmets, breathing apparatus and jackets, weighed 25 kilograms and had to be lugged up 51 flights of stairs.

Over $1.2 million was raised by the challenge which would go to Leukaemia and Blood Cancer New Zealand [LBC], a charity that raises awareness, funds research and supports those suffering from blood cancer or a related blood condition.

Featherston firefighter Ajay Bhati summed up the challenge in one word: “tiring”.

“This year we had a big team, there were 10 of us.

“What was nice was the different age groups that were represented, from 18 to 65 and to see them climb was inspirational.”

Bhati said the volunteer brigade had raised more than $8000 this year.

“It was very personal for me because I’ve had a few family members who have had it [blood cancer] – so for me that was really good.

Bhati said that all the firefighters made it to the top, and emphasised that “once up was enough”.

Masterton firefighter Alicia Lenz said four firefighters from Masterton also took part in the endurance challenge, with the station raising almost $3600.

“There were quite a few of us from Wairarapa, four from Masterton and 10 from Featherston.

“For two of us, it was our second time doing it.

“It’s always a good time it’s always supportive – you’re running up the stairs and you’re running past other firefighters and they’re cheering you on.

“And you’re cheering them on when they run past you.”

When asked if she had enjoyed her time, Lenz said “not while doing it”, but said the experience was rewarding.

The challenge began in 2005 and has since raised more than $10 million for the charity. Participants included New Zealand firefighters as well as international competitors from all over the world including Australia, the United States and Chile.

Firefighters represented their brigade and were supported by LBC to fundraise throughout their preparation for the event.

George Shiers
George Shiers
George Shiers is a reporter at the Wairarapa Times-Age interested in politics and social issues. He reports regularly on a range of topics including infrastructure, housing, and transport. George is also the Tararua reporter and helps cover police, fire and court stories.

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