First, some context:
“In 2009, 365 New Zealand fire fighters and firefighters from Australia and the U.S. raced up 51 flights (1,103 Sky Tower steps), wearing full fire-fighting kit and breathing apparatus weighing up to 25kg.”
Why were they punishing themselves like this? It’s all in support of Leukaemia and Blood Cancer New Zealand (LBCNZ). The 2009 event raised $140,000.
For this shoot, I met a group of Fire Service personnel as they trained for the 2010 event. I was sweating just being in the Gen-i Tower (now Chorus House) stairwell, and these guys were running up stairs in full fire suits. They would soon begin lugging backpacks, with weights in them, as well.
- The breathing apparatus firemen use is a “negative pressure” system. I.e. you must actually work to breathe normally. So their gear is actually working against them as they battle the stairs.
- The suits they wear are heavy, insulated, and I believe not included in the above weight estimate.
- The stairs in Christchurch’s Sky Tower are each slightly taller than the average you will find in most corporate buildings, so they must lift those legs higher too
- To train, they are using the stair-well at Gen-i Tower. In order to simulate the number of steps, they run to level 18 four times… & there’s no air-conditioning in there
- The fastest male in 2009 did this in just 9mins 40secs, the fastest female in 14mins 11secs. One of the participants was 65yrs old.
LBFNZ is a superb organisation “dedicated to supporting patients and their families living with leukaemia, lymphoma, myeloma and related blood conditions“.
Gen-i, and Chris Quin (Gen-i’s CEO at the time), donated time in the building, for over a month, to allow the crews to train properly for the event. Both Chris, and Dr. Paul Reynolds (Telecom CEO at the time), were also heavily involved in that years “Kids in Cars” event… It’s amazing how much these guys, and the two companies, give back.