Taking the stairs for mental health

Whittlesea firefighter Danny Cobb, Brandon Smith and Branndon Kenworthy are taking part in the Firefighter Stair Climb. (Damjan Janevski) 291221_01

When Brandon Smith and seven of his Whittlesea Fire Brigade colleagues race up 28 floors of the Crown Metropol Hotel next month, they won’t be running towards a fire. Instead the group will be raising money to help emergency services personnel battling mental health issues.

The firefighters will don 25 kilograms of kit, including full structural firefighter gear and breathing apparatus.

Mr Smith, who is the brigade’s 4th lieutenant and community safety co-ordinator, will be taking part in the Firefighter Stair Climb for the fourth time, while some of his colleagues will be completing their first climb.

He said he first signed up for the stair climb because he wanted to raise money for mental health support services including Lifeline and the Black Dog Institute.

“Due to working in the emergency services, there is obviously a fair impact on mental health. I wanted to help those members,” he said.

Mr Smith said racing up 28 floors while using breathing apparatus was very challenging, with some runners choosing not to run “on air”.

“It’s an added challenge as it not as free to breathe,” he said.

The Firefighter Stair Climb is run by the 000 Foundation, which this year is aiming to raise $600,000 for Lifeline Fortem Australia and the foundation to improve support services, fund research, remove stigmas and raise awareness of Mental health issues like depression, Post Traumatic Stress Injury and suicide among emergency services’ communities.

Whittlesea Fire Brigade is aiming to raise $3500 to $4000.

To donate: www.firefighterclimb.org.au/station/cfa/whittlesea/

Laura Michell