Firefighters set for race to the Sky

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Invercargill firefighters Chris Hewton (left) and Anthony Haines will take on the 2019 Firefighter Sky Tower Stair Challenge on May 18. Photo: Laura Smith

TWO Invercargill-based firefighters are preparing to take on the Firefighter Sky Tower Stair Challenge on May 18.

Chris Hewton and Anthony Haines will head to Auckland for the timed run up the 1103 stairs of the tower.

Mr Haines said the event, which raises money for Leukaemia & Blood Cancer New Zealand, this year had about 1000 firefighters entering from all over the country.

“[The Sky Tower] gets overrun by firefighters for the day,” he said.

Mr Hewton, who has completed the challenge three times, said it was for a good cause – “Climbing the Sky Tower, as hard as it is, is nothing compared to what they [cancer patients] go through”.

Those entered have to tackle the 51 flights of stairs wearing 25kg of firefighting gear.

While Mr Haines trained up to five times a week, Mr Hewton said he didn’t train as much, and both agreed the stair machine at the gym was a good training tool.

Both men said training was intense, but it could only get them so far. “You can train as much as you want but on the day with all the gear… I find that the most challenging part, it’s phenomenally hot,” Mr Haines said.

On the day they will have to wear what they would in a real fire – the structural firefighter uniform, breathing apparatus, helmet and gloves.

The challenge was popular with firefighters throughout the country. Mr Haines said there was an increased number representing Southland.

“When we first did it there was only us and one other team in Southland. Us, as a region, support it really well.”

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