SE Portland firefighters climb stairs to raise cancer-fighting funds

Why would crew members from Portland Fire & Rescue volunteer don their full gear, and prepare to race to the top of a 69-story building that is NOT on fire? Take a look, and find out …

Portland Fire & Rescue firefighter Marc Ham takes his turn on the stepping exerciser, as firefighter Tim Spring “passes the boot”, asking shoppers for a donation to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

Story and photo by David F. Ashton
Even though the firefighters of Portland Fire & Rescue stay in shape by working out and training – and responding to emergencies – several of them spent February 23 on a stair-stepping exercise machine at Costco’s Airport location.

When we arrived, we found a resident of the Sellwood neighborhood for fifteen years, firefighter Mark Ham, working up a sweat. In full gear – 70 pounds of it, including his breathing apparatus, he was vigorously working out. “I’m getting ready for the ‘Scott Firefighter Stairclimb for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’,” said the firefighter, who works at the bureau’s Training Academy on NE 122nd Avenue.

The stairclimb event, held on March 2 at Seattle’s Columbia Center, is the largest individual firefighter competition in the world, we learned. More than 1,300 firefighters from across the Pacific Northwest – including 25 Portland-area firefighters – will compete in this timed race to the top of the building.

Firefighter Tim Spring, a crew member of Station 25, on SE 52nd Avenue, said he was encouraging people to help “fill the boot” he carried with donations.

“The proceeds go to help find a cure for cancer,” Spring explained. “We’ve had several people in the department that have had cancer in the last five or six years. We’re trying to get out in the community and show our support for cancer research.”

Ham agreed, “We’re volunteering our time because cancer has affected quite a few of our firefighters; this fundraiser is close to our hearts.”

You can still help: Drop off cash or a check for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society at any PF&R station.

© 2008 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

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