10 September, 2023
Firefighters conquer 28 floors
LIEUTENANTS Sue Rondeau and Dan Deans know how to take one step at a time to conquer a challenge.
The pair, both members of the Winslow and Yarpturk Fire Brigade, joined more than 700 firefighters from across the country last weekend and conquered 28 floors of the Crown Metropol Hotel.
Carrying 25 kilograms of kit on their backs, the eager firefighters climbed 476 stairs to make it to the top of the building – and all in the name of charity.
Last Saturday’s 10th annual Melbourne Firefighter Stair Climb was once again held in honour of the 343 firefighters who lost their lives in the line of duty on September 11, 2001.
Since the event began, it has become a popular fundraiser for various charities to improve support services, fund research, remove stigmas and raise awareness of mental health issues like depression, post-traumatic stress injury and suicide; especially for those within the emergency service and Defence communities.
Funds raised go towards Lifeline, the 000Foundation and the Peter MacCallum Cancer Foundation to support research, education and real treatments for those suffering from cancer.
“I was absolutely blown away by the sight of hundreds of firefighters, fully geared up, lining up to make their way to the top,” Sue said. “Carrying 25 kilos also added to the challenge but I was well prepared having done quite a lot of training leading up to this, and I was absolutely thrilled with how I went.
“I was aiming to get to the finish line in under 20 minutes and I made it in 10 minutes 42 seconds. It really was a terrific day.”
To date, Sue believes more than $630,000 has already been raised this year and donations are open until the end of this month.
“I had never taken part in this challenge before but there were so many reasons to do so,” Sue said. “There are more incidents of mental health issues among first responders than in the general population and we need to work hard to reduce the stigma around this; hopefully it encourages people to put their hands up and seek help.
“Raising money for cancer research is also so important; unfortunately the statistics are high among firefighters.”
Despite admitting to not being a fan of steps, fellow volunteer Dan Deans said the challenge was more of a mind game than a physical test.
Prior to the day, Dan said it wasn’t the 25-kilo pack that worried him, but more the weight of the boots with every step taken.
Dan finished the climb in an impressive seven minutes 19 seconds.
Anyone wishing to make a donation can head to firefighterclimb.org.au