Running up the Auckland Skytower’s 51 floors wearing full breathing apparatus weighing around 16kg is a significant challenge for firefighters raising money for Leukaemia & Blood Cancer NZ.
However, paid firefighter Mike Williamson of Manly wanted more.
Last month when Mike competed in his seventh Skytower Challenge, he chose the hardest category of all. Known as the Firefighter of Steel, the category was introduced in 2015 and entails carrying a steel oxygen cylinder that weighs 9kg more than the carbon fibre ones worn by most competitors. The full kit – suit, boots, helmet and a steel tank –weighs 25kg. Only 61 firefighters took on this challenge – more than 600 competed carrying the regular breathing apparatus.
Mike says that the steel cylinders are outdated and used only for training.
He got to the 49th floor before the oxygen in it ran out and had to remove the mask before heading up the final two floors.
He placed fourth in the category (1st in Masters). His time of 12:56 was far from his best of 10:45, reflecting the extra load. Mike won the event overall in 2008 and has been at the top of the Masters category several times.
The Hibiscus & Bays Local Board member says he feels privileged to be able to do this event to raise money for people with blood cancers.
“My 13 minutes of pain and suffering is nothing compared with what they go through,” he says.
Thousands donated by volunteer firefighters
A team of four volunteers with Manly Fire Brigade took part in this year’s Skytower Challenge, on May 13, raising $4500 for Leukaemia & Blood Cancer NZ. The First Aid courses run by the brigade in March (HM March 1) contributed $2000 to this amount and were so successful that they are likely to become an annual part of the crew’s fundraising. A highlight for the team was that its oldest member, Craig Macdonald (aged 53) completed the donned and started category a full three minutes faster than his son James, who is in the same brigade. Donations can still be made – info: firefightersclimb.org.nz