A team of five firefighters with the Qualicum Beach Fire Department are gearing up to climb 48 storeys to help raise awareness for the one-in-five British Columbians struggling with lung conditions.
The BC Lung Association’s Climb the Wall event, in its 18th year, is a fundraiser that challenges participants to ascend to the top of the Sheraton Vancouver Wall Centre Hotel, happening on Sunday, Feb. 24.
Qualicum Beach Fire Department members Trish Moroto, Denyse Kohse, Rachelle Kerr, Neil Ruckus and Kyle Chapman are heading to Vancouver to climb the stairs in their full Personal Protective Equipment, weighing almost 60 pounds, up the 48 floors, using only their SCBA air supply to breathe.
“It’s going to be a great challenge for us because I don’t know if I’ve ever climbed a 48-storey building let alone done it on air so it’s a great way for us to push ourselves as a team to try and accomplish it,” said Moroto. “The masks that we wear are positive pressure masks so we actually have to draw the air in and breath out. You have to control your breathing so that you are ensuring you have enough air in your tank to complete the task before you.”
People of all fitness levels and all ages take part in the event. Some participants climb solo, others as part of a family or team.
“The BC Lung Association’s Climb the Wall is a rare event in that it allows us to come together as a firefighting community to support a worthwhile cause,” said QBFD chief Darryl Kohse. “As firefighters, we know first-hand what it feels like to struggle to breathe, and how important it is to take steps to safeguard our lung health. But while we take precautions and wear special gear to protect ourselves, each fire exposes us to a mix of toxic gases, chemicals, particulate and other substances that can contribute to firefighters’ increased risk of respiratory disease and cancer.”
Tax deductible fundraising donations can be made on the BC Lung Association website to the QBFD team or towards the individual team members fund raising goals.
Over past the 18 years, the event has raised more than $1,600,000. The record for fastest stair climb time is four minutes and 17 seconds and the average stair climb time is 10 to 15 minutes.