Firefighters all over B.C. are gearing up to haul several pounds of gear up 48 muscle-tearing stories.
The big event on Feb. 23 is no emergency, yet firefighters like Ross McInroy and Christopher Renaud will be fighting to save lives that day.
The Agassiz emergency workers will be among 250 firefighters at the annual Climb the Wall event in Vancouver coming up later this month to benefit the B.C. Lung Association
Kat van Bylandt, spokesperson for the B.C. Lung Association, said this year’s physical challenge has the biggest firefighter turnout yet in its nearly 20-year history.
Firefighters and civilian climbers – an average total of more than 400 participants per year – will take the long way up all 48 storeys of the Sheraton Vancouver Wall Centre. Firefighters will compete wearing about 50 lbs of full protective firefighting gear to see who can achieve the fastest climb. The current record is 4:17 with the average time being 10 to 15 minutes.
All proceeds from the event benefit the B.C. Lung Association to help fund lung patient support programs, research and advocacy initiatives.
Van Bylandt said one in five British Columbians are affected by lung or breathing conditions.
“Climb the Wall is a rare event in that it allows us to come together as a firefighting community to advocate for a cause that strikes close to home,” McInroy said in a statement. “As firefighters, we routinely find ourselves at risk of exposure to harmful air pollutants. While we take precautions and wear special gear to protect yourselves, each fire exposes us to a mix of toxins that can contribute to respiratory disease and cancer.”
McInroy said the participation in Climb the Wall has become a beloved tradition among the Agassiz Fire Department.
“It’s a meaningful tradition and a great team building exercise,” he added. “Besides that, it’s a great way to spend a Sunday!”
McInroy – captain of this year’s team – is a veteran to Climb the Wall. He will be joined by fellow veteran Spencer McColl and new climbers Renaud and Matthew Griffith.
B.C. Lung Association CEO Christopher Lam expressed his deep appreciation for the support the firefighters from here in Agassiz and across the province show every year.
“Together, firefighters, lung healthcare community members and participating members of the public have raised almost $2 million since the event first began,” Lam stated. “We’re extremely thankful to everyone involved.”
To make a donation to support the Agassiz firefighters during the Climb the Wall event, visit www.stairclimb.ca, click donate and search for team “AFD” or a specific firefighter name.
Non-firefighter climbers who wish to participate must pay a $25 registration fee and commit to fundraising a minimum of $125. They will be given an event t-shirt as well as brunch.
Climbers of all fitness levels and ages are welcome to participate as both solo climbers or as teams. Climbers under the age of 12 participate for free.
The B.C. Lung Association has been around for at least 100 years, originally founded to help fight tuberculosis. The organization fights against smoking and air pollution and advocates for lung health and clean air policies.
To learn more about the B.C. Lung Association, visit them online at bc.lung.ca.