Volunteers climb for cash

Stair-climbing couple Adam and Carmena Smith. Picture: FIREFIGHTER LUKE ROY

 Seven Mount Evelyn Fire Brigade volunteers will step up to the challenge of the Melbourne Firefighter Stair Climb.

They’ll make their way up 28 storeys of fire escape stairs at the Crown Metropol Hotel on Saturday 1 September – while wearing 25 kilograms of turnout gear and breathing apparatus.

What’s it like?

“Try sprinting a lap of Lillydale Lake in a full-length wetsuit, with gumboots and carrying a five-year-old on your back…while breathing through a pair of socks, and strap a 2kg helmet on your head as well,” the crew said on its Facebook page.

The brigade got involved with the event in its inaugural year, in 2014, and raised more than $9000 for The Alfred hospital burns unit.

“We tried really hard to fund-raise and train, and managed to take the podium in first place – for the most amount of money raised, not the fastest times,” volunteer firefighter Adam Smith said.

“And it felt great!

“We were provided a tour of the burns unit and an insight into the processes and specialist equipment involved in supporting, bathing, and dressing burns patients.

At least six members have registered and stepped up for the cause each year since.

Mr Smith is the team’s fastest climber.

He’s previously raced up the 28 floors in 25 kilograms of full structural firefighting gear, wearing breathing apparatus, in 4 minutes and 30 seconds.

That placed him in the top 10 of his category, against career MFB and CFA firefighters from inner suburbs locations where high-rise buildings with stairs are a regular challenge.

“In Mount Evelyn we are lucky to find a two-storey house, so training is challenging,” he said.

So Mr Smith and his wife Carmena, who’s also a volunteer firefighter and stair-climber since 2014, regularly run, cycle and walk their dogs.

When the opportunity presents they’ll hike the Mount Dandenong fire trail or the 1000 Steps.

This year’s climb will support suicide prevention, mental health and PTSD through LifeLine and Black Dog Institute Australia.

The Mount Evelyn team hopes to contribute $5000.

To donate and provide words of encouragement to help the team step up to the challenge, visit www.firefighterclimb.org.au/station/cfa/mt-evelyn.