Canadian Firefighter Magazine

Firefighters train for stairclimb

By Amanda Jeffery, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Drayton Valley and District Free Press   

Department News News Alberta firefighter training firefighters

Mar. 21, 2024, Drayton Valley, Alta. – Firefighters with Drayton Valley/Brazeau County Fire Services and Parkland County Fire Services are taking steps to help support firefighters in need.

One of the major hazards that firefighters face on the job isn’t as obvious as fire or a collapsing building. According to the Worker’s Compensation Board of Alberta, firefighters are exposing themselves to more than 20 presumptive cancers during their career.

By participating in a program called the Firefighter Stairclimb Challenge, climbers can help raise funds for Wellspring Alberta, a non-profit organization that offers non-medical support to those affected by cancer.

“We cannot say enough about the spirit of firefighters who spend countless hours serving our communities, then show up to help support people living with cancer by participating in our annual Firefighter Stairclimb Challenge,” said Wellspring CEO, Natalie Noble in a press release. “As Wellspring expands to meet the demand for cancer support across the province, these individuals help tremendously in raising awareness and funds.”


Wellspring also donates a portion of its proceeds to Firefighters Assistance Charitable Society, a group focused on offering support and services for firefighters and their families.

Amanda Reid, a volunteer with DV/B.C. Fire Services, is the team lead for this year’s group ResQ365. Reid says she’s been participating in the stair climb challenge for about ten years.

This year, the team is a bit smaller, says Reid. Along with Kent Fuson, who has been participating in the climb for ten years as well, are Justin Reid, Shane Hawryluk, and Rudy Frei. As of March 18, the team had already raised $1,056.

The Parkland County team, Fire Sisters, headed by Krista Skinner has raised $1,365 for their five person team.

Reid says the challenge is important for families who are potentially going through or dealing with cancer treatments, as all of the funds go to Wellspring. But she says there are other reasons that make the challenge beneficial.

“It’s really good exercise and motivation for us in a very active and fit profession,” says Reid. “We need to stay fit for duty and getting out with all of our team mates is a bonus as well.”

This year is the tenth year for the Wellspring fundraiser. According to the FSC press release, the fundraiser was originally started in 2014 under the guidance of Kathy Blas, a woman who wanted to build a legacy for her brother Gord Paul, a fallen firefighter.

Ten years in, the challenge has participants from all across the globe.

The climb challenge is based on Calgary’s tallest tower: Brookfield Place. Participants have to climb 57 stories, which is 1,370 steps.

While the challenge is typically geared toward firefighters, civilians can participate as well. If they raise $5,000, they can challenge the Chief and participate in the climb.

Reid said her team will be training over the next few months as they prepare for the climb on June 9. For the most part, the team will train individually, but they will have one training day where they all work together.

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