Two teams of firefighters from Abbotsford Fire Rescue Service are participating in the annual Climb the Wall fundraiser for the BC Lung Association on Sunday, Feb. 23.
One team is made of career firefighters and the other of auxiliary members. They will be among those climbing 48 storeys (739 steps) of the Sheraton Vancouver Wall Centre while each wearing more than 50 pounds of protective gear and their breathing apparatus.
The event raises funds for vital lung-patient support programs, research and advocacy initiatives in support of the one in five British Columbians affected by a lung or breathing condition.
In preparation for the event, the auxiliary team climbed Abbotsford’s tallest building – the Mahogany at Mill Lake on Gladwin Road – on Feb. 3.
The tower is 26 storeys, and the crew climbed twice as a training exercise for Climb the Wall.
Career firefighter Ryan Baldwin said Climb the Wall is an important one for participants.
“As firefighters, we routinely find ourselves at risk of exposure to harmful air pollutants,” he said. “While we take precautions and wear special gear to protect ourselves, each fire can still potentially expose us to a mix of toxins that can contribute to firefighters’ increased risk of respiratory disease and cancer.”
Baldwin said Climb the Wall is an opportunity to promote and protect lung health and clean air.
Auxiliary firefighter Adam Campbell said the event is both a “meaningful tradition and a great team-building exercise.”
This year marks Abbotsford career firefighters’ 12th time and Abbotsford auxiliary firefighters’ ninth time competing for the fastest climb time.
Stair climbing alongside firefighters every year is a large contingent of family, friends and lung health-care professionals participating in tribute to loved ones affected by respiratory illness.
Christopher Lam, CEO of the BC Lung Association, said the event has raised almost $2 million since it first began almost 20 years ago.
To donate to the Abbotsford teams, visit stairclimb.ca, click “donate,” and search for “Abbotsford Fire Department,” “AFRS Auxiliary” or a specific firefighter by name.
To participate in the event, non-firefighter climbers pay a $25 registration fee and commit to raising a minimum of $125.
In return, every climber receives a limited-edition 2020 Climb the Wall T-shirt and brunch.