Imagine running up 51 flights of stairs…

Or 1,103 steps, to be precise. Tough going, right?

Skycity Firefighter Sky Tower Stair Challenge 11th May 2013.

Now imagine doing that wearing full firefighter’s kit — 55 extra pounds (25 kg) of helmet, fire-proof clothing and an oxygen tank.

Well, Tait Communications Design Engineer Tane Cambridge doesn’t have to imagine — he climbed every last lung-bursting, energy-sapping step during the Firefighter Sky Tower Stair Challenge, held this week in Auckland, New Zealand.

The annual event sees hundreds of firefighters from New Zealand, Australia and the US race to the top of the tallest free-standing structure in the Southern Hemisphere, to raise money for Leukemia & Blood Cancer New Zealand.

This year, the event raised a record total of NZ$471,000 for the charity, which provides support for blood cancer patients and their families.

Tait Communications was a major sponsor of this year’s event, and Tane, a keen runner and orienteer, took up the monumental challenge of representing Tait as an honorary firefighter for the race.

“After a bit of initial nervousness, I settled down and really enjoyed the challenge of racing up the tower with all that gear on!,” says Tane.

“I managed to slip in under 10 minutes, in a time of 9:41— the fastest in the non-firefighters category and the full-gear-without-mask category. The fastest overall climb was achieved while wearing the full breathing apparatus in 8:37, which is no mean feat!”

In the lead-up to race-day, Tane managed to raise over NZ$1,400 towards the charity event. He says the experience has given him a unique glimpse into what it means to be a firefighter.

“It’s one thing to imagine what it’s like wearing all that gear. But it’s another thing altogether to actually put it on — boots and all — and then run like crazy. It’s certainly not for the faint-hearted!”

“During the event, I got a real sense of the commitment and camaraderie that exists between the firefighters, and the pride they each take in coming together to compete in such a special event.”

“It’s reassuring to know that they’re the same dedicated men and women who are out there protecting our communities every day,” he adds. “I’m glad I could get a glimpse into their world and, quite literally, step into their shoes for a bit.”

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