SKFR stairclimb Sunday

South Kitsap firefighters will be suiting up and climbing stairs for a good cause for not just one weekend, but the next two.

Battalion Chief Steve Wright of South Kitsap Fire and Rescue said this year instead of just participating in the annual Scott Firefighter Climb at Columbia Tower in downtown Seattle, the department has decided to go the extra mile — or mile of stairs, perhaps — and raise money beforehand, as well.

“The event is a fundraiser for leukemia, so we wanted to do our part to raise money,” Wright said, admitting that “the other part of it is that firefighters like to take on a good challenge.”

In this case, the challenge before the big challenge — which is climbing Columbia Tower on March 2 — will be climbing a “stair mill” for six hours straight.

A stair mill, Wright said, is a “heavy-duty” version of the ones found in most gyms.

“We have one at the Kitsap Readiness Center that we use for training, and we will be moving that down in front of Fred Meyer (Sunday),” Wright said, explaining that the firefighters will suit up in full gear and walk the stairs from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. “We have 21 people committed to the Seattle stairclimb, and most of those will be at Fred Meyer. They’ll each go through a couple of bottles (of air), then switch.”

The point, Wright said, is to raise money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, which hosts the stair climb in Seattle.

“It will catch people’s attention, and be a lot of fun,” he said, adding that it will provide a bit more training time, as well. “Also, the kids will get a big kick out of it.”

Wright said all proceeds from this event will go to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, which fights blood cancers. The society’s stairclimb this year will be the 17th annual, and organizers expect more than 1,300 firefighters from 200 departments across the Pacific Northwest and beyond.

Participants climb all 69 floors of the tower — 788 feet and 1,311 steps — in full combat gear, and awards are given to the fastest climbers and the top fundraisers.

Last year, the event reportedly brought in a record $365,000 for blood-cancer research and patient services.

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