Fire District climbs for cause
The Park City Fire District took second place in the 2013 American Lung Association’s Fight for Air Climb on Feb. 23.
The Fire District placed behind the Salt Lake City Fire Department.
"Salt Lake City has won every year, except last year when we beat them. This year we were second, though. First losers is what I call it," quipped Peter Emery, who led the Fire District team.
Eric Hockridge was the Fire District’s fastest runner and the race’s second fastest, coming in only two seconds behind a Salt Lake City firefighter.
The Fire District has about 75 firefighters, compared to Salt Lake City’s 400, according to Emery.
"So we have a small group to pull from, but we’ve done well. We’ve always placed in the top three," he said.
In placing second, the Fire District had to give up the championship ax that they’ve held for the last year. The ax is passed from winning team to winning team every year.
"We’ll win it next year," said Fire District Chief Paul Hewitt.
The climb took place at the Wells Fargo Center in Salt Lake City, where participants had to climb 23 flights of stairs.
Anyone was welcome to participate, but the state’s fire departments hold a friendly competition amongst themselves each year.
The firefighters are required to climb the stairs while wearing 45 pounds of gear, including a mask that regulates air.
"Honestly, it’s awful. It’s the worst thing, and I do a lot of endurance events," Emery said.
Regardless, Emery has participated in the event every year.
"It’s for a good cause and I have pride in the department," he said.
To prepare for the rigorous climb, the Fire District’s firefighters train for a couple months before the event.
"The guys take it seriously," Emery said. "We have a Stair Climber the guys use at one of the stations to train for it. The Park City Fire District is really well known for our fitness level. I think we’re considered one of the fitter departments in the state."
The purpose of the event, however, is to raise money for the American Lung Association, Emery added.
Each participant was asked to raise $100 in order to participate in the event. Groups were asked to raise an average of $100 per group participant.
Over $41,000 was raised during the event, with the Fire District raising $1,265 among its 15 participants. The Fire District was the seventh largest fundraiser, with Wells Fargo and the Salt Lake City Fire Department topping the list.
The funds will be used for local camps, educational programs and research, according to Glenn Lanham, American Lung Association of Utah Executive Director.
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“These are my heroes,” says Eileen Finan, who is the infection prevention and employee health coordinator at Park City Hospital, “and that’s what gives me the passion to keep coming back every day.”