Photo: Whittlesea Fire Brigade members (left to right) Ryan Taylor, Branndon Kenworthy, Steph Smith, Brandon Smith, Danny Cobb and Lauren Caffyn are taking on the Melbourne Firefighter Stair Climb next month.
Firefighters from Whittlesea Fire Brigade are being put through their paces in the lead-up to the Melbourne Firefighter Stair Climb next month to raise money and awareness for mental health.
CFA volunteers Steph Smith and Lauren Caffyn will be participating in the annual event for the first time alongside seven of their fellow brigade members and hundreds of other firefighters from across Victoria.
The Melbourne Firefighter Stair Climb will take place on Saturday, 10 September, when participants will climb 28 floors of Crown Metropol Hotel wearing 25kg of turnout gear and beathing apparatus to raise money and awareness for depression, PTSD and suicide.
Long-time CFA firefighter Steph Smith said the decision to commit herself to the cause for the first time was motivated by her friends and family who have been impacted by mental health issues.
“Mental health issues have become a big part of the world we live in and I want to help take it on by raising awareness and do whatever I can,” she said.
“Stepping up for causes like this is a big part of what we do as volunteers.
“We look after each other at the brigade when someone might be feeling down or struggling with their mental health at times.
“It’s great to be doing this as a team, which allows us to support each other through the training and remind one another why we’re doing it in the first place.”
Lauren, who has been volunteering with Whittlesea Fire Brigade for a decade, said between being a full-time prison officer and a firefighter with the local brigade, she and her peers are exposed to many incidents that can take their toll on their mental health.
“This event will raise money for mental health and help a lot of people struggling with these issues,” she said.
“I’ve already surpassed my $200 fundraising goal and am now eyeing off $500.
“Having a team of nine from the brigade get involved in this year’s event fills us with a sense of camaraderie.
The pair will be teaming up alongside Danny Cobb, Brandon Smith, Jess Loschiavo, Branndon Kenworthy, Sam Devenish, Ryan Taylor and Adrian Bryant from Whittlesea Fire Brigade.
The team has been training together and individually around town and individually, with Steph getting in step work at the Wandong railway station, swimming and walking, while Lauren has been taking on the Stairmaster and treadmill.
Both Steph and Lauren spoke candidly about what they hope to achieve during the stair climb next month, which is to “just make it to the top”.
“I’m hoping to finish it within 20 minutes,” Steph said.
Lauren said finishing the stair climb will bring a sense of achievement to the brigade.
“I can’t wait to get to the top with everybody and celebrate.”
To make a donation and support the Whittlesea Fire Brigade’s fundraising efforts for the Melbourne Firefighter Stair Climb, visit www.firefighterclimb.org.au/station/cfa/whittlesea.