For the sixth year in a row firefighters from Cochrane Fire Services are busy training and getting ready for the annual Firefighter Stairclimb Challenge. 

Chris Chyka says this will be a completely different event this year as the climb has gone virtual.

They will complete the climb here in Cochrane rather then in downtown Calgary.

"Typically we meet the first weekend in May and that's at the Bow Tower. So 55 stories of continuous climbing in our full bunker gear, minus our face pieces."

"So that puts our weight 60 lbs heavier give or take, depending on what type of equipment we're using. So 60 lbs heavier then what we would typically weigh. Fifty-five stories equals about 1204 stairs. Our fastest guy is about 12 minutes and our slowest is about 22 minutes, give or take."

Chyka says "We going to have all of the members who are going to run, there are four confirmed at this point and we're just going to do a virtual run in our own tower. So the equivalent in our hose tour here will be about 17 laps, so we have to go up and down 17 times."

He says they start training well before the event. 

"We start in a phased approach, so wearing shorts and a shirt and we run for about a month in the tower just simply 20 times up and down so we overshoot the goal just to be better prepared. Then we start adding our gear in order to properly climatize." 

He says once you add all of the extra gear it becomes a lot more difficult.

"The big factor that creates a lot of problems for us is the heat stress. So with our gear on it retains a lot of the heat and of course with the extra weight, your work load increases tremendously in the first couple flights of stairs and how you start the first 10 flights of stairs really dictates how you'll do during the rest of the run. So if you take off too quickly, you'll be gasped by half way up. You have to kind of go in a slow, paced approach. This is not a sprint by any stretch, more of a marathon."

Chyka says he and fellow firefighter Derek Orr have been doing this since its inception and plan to keep going until they've done it 10 years in a row.

"We're proud of being part of this. We're proud of the six years we've run up until this point. We appreciate the program which is Wellspring. They are more of the support services for cancer patients, less of the active treatment side. So that's where that money goes to, so psychologists and dietary needs."

Last year between the participants and Mayor Genung they raised over $21,000.

The climb will go at Cochrane Station 151 on July 23 at 9 a.m. however because of COVID-19 they won't be able to allow the public to watch the event live. 

For more information, or if you'd like to make a donation go here.

stair climbMayor Jeff Genung participated in the climb in 2019 (file photo)