The Examiner JUNE 26 2018 – 11:42AM Melissa Mobbs
As if volunteering their time to fight fires, assist at road crashes and generally support their communities was not enough, six Northern Tasmanians are taking on a physical challenge for charity.
Four volunteer firefighters from Deloraine Fire Brigade and two from Elizabeth Town Fire Brigade will head interstate in September to take part in the fifth annual Melbourne Firefighter Stair Climb.
For Elizabeth Town chief Richard Bennett the climb is all too familiar.
“Last year my brigade challenged me to do it, I missed a meeting and in the meeting minutes they nominated me,” he laughed.
“The brigade got behind me and the Deloraine brigade also supported me and we managed to raise $7000.
“It’s pretty hard yakka, but it’s a great cause.”
This year they have a new goal of $10,000 between the Deloraine and Elizabeth Town volunteers, with plans to host fundraising events in the coming months.
Joining Mr Bennett in the 2018 challenge will be his wife and fellow Elizabeth Town volunteer firefighter Fiona Bennett. From Deloraine, brigade chief Daniel Watson, third officer Alastair Horsburgh and firefighters Shaun Vidler and Simon Sherriff will take part.
Mr Watson said the charities were close to his heart.
“A lot of the time we are dealing with people when they are at their worst,” he said.
“When all the flames are put out we spend a lot of time, particularly in our own communities, talking to those people that have experienced devastation.
“Also in Deloraine and Elizabeth Town, we are on the Bass Highway so we have a lot of road crash fatalities and one of the charities the stair climb supports is the Black Dog Institute, which does a lot of work around post traumatic stress disorder for emergency service workers.
“As well as raising awareness it’s good for us to be seen in the community doing positive things.”
The crew has begun training for the event, which will see them running up 28 floors at the Crown Metropol Hotel while wearing 25 kilograms of turnout gear and breathing apparatus.
About 600 volunteer and career firefighters will participate from across the country as well as the United States and New Zealand.
Since the first event in 2014, $1.3 million has been raised for the Alfred Hospital Burns Unit, the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, Lifeline and the Black Dog Institute.
On top of the climb, the Northern Tasmanian volunteers have set themselves an extra challenge – to beat the career firefighters.
Donate online at firefighterclimb.org.au
Second Right – Richard Bennett (Director | General Manager) and Fiona Bennett