Duo's stair climb to support mental health

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An inspired pair of firefighters from Neerim South Fire Brigade are committing to 10,000 steps a day this month as part of the Firefighter Stair Climb, to raise funds for Post-Traumatic Stress Injury (PTSI), depression and suicide.


Zoe Barwick and Kirby Heath were motivated to get involved in this year’s stair climb challenge to recognise the intense situations firefighters face and live with while protecting lives and property.

Zoe said stories from her father, Captain Brian Barwick’s experience in a burn-over incident alongside Kirby’s older brother, 1st Lt Steven Heath while fighting a fire in 2003 inspired them to get involved to support this cause.

“While deployed on a strike team in 2003, they were trapped in the middle of a fire while inside the truck,” she said.

“With flames surrounding them, a mayday call was made.

“The truck’s windows smashed, and they did everything they could to stay alive – using fire blankets to wait out the fire and thankfully everyone was okay.”

Touched by the traumatic experience that stuck with their family members, Zoe and Kirby are keen to climb stairs in honour of the life-threatening scenarios all emergency services personnel put themselves in to protect others.

The virtual event kicked off on 10 September and will run through to World Mental Health Day on 10 October.

Kirby said her passion for promoting mental wellbeing and raising awareness for mental health injuries is reason for getting involved in this challenge.

“This is a cause that is close to our hearts and we want to do everything we can to support it,” she said.

This year, the Stair Climb has an overall goal of $500,000 and funds for this year’s challenge will go towards Lifeline, Fortem Australia and 000 Foundation.

The pair will cap the challenge off with a five-kilometre hike along Toorongo Falls Trail while wearing 10kg weighted vests in lieu of being able to climb Crown Metropol in their turnout gear. 

Those who wish to through their support behind Zoe and Kirby in their endeavour to raise funds for PTSI, depression and suicide can donate directly at www.firefighterclimb.org.au/climber/zoebarwick or www.firefighterclimb.org.au/climber/kirbyheath/.


  • Member News imagePhoto: Kirby Heath and Zoe Barwick
  • Member News image Photo: Kirby and her brother, Steven Heath
  • Member News image Photo: Zoe and her father, Brian Barwick
Submitted by CFA News & Media