On March 6, 2016 six members from Longview Fire Department participated in the annual Scott Firefighter Stairclimb. This epic event tests the physical capabilities of nearly 1900 firefighters from more than 330 departments, representing several States, and even an International contingent. Firefighters of all ages, both career and volunteer, climbed 69 flights of stairs while scaling the tallest building West of the Mississippi, The Columbia Center in downtown Seattle.
While in full firefighter personal protective equipment (PPE) including wearing and breathing from their Self Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA) firefighters ascend 1311 individual steps with a vertical climb of 788 feet. Physical conditioning and heat management make this event both a challenge and an accomplishment once completed.
In its 25th year, The Firefighter Stairclimb raises funds and awareness for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society for blood-cancer research. Last year the event raised 2.2 million dollars.... And all indications are this year's fundraising efforts outpaced last years
Longview Fire Department has a long tradition of supporting the Firefighter Stairclimb, this year sending a team which included Master Firefighter and Team Captain Eric Bergquist, Master Firefighter Joey Kirkpatrick, Master Firefighter Graham Lasee, Firefighter Mike Mann and Battalion Chief Troy Buzalsky At the writing of this Press Release the team has raised an impressive $12,415 for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society - and collections are still coming in.
This year Eric Bergquist, who was born and raised in Longview and attended RA Long High School, participated in his ninth consecutive Stairclimb and is the team's fastest member, clocking a time of 15.35... and placing 94th overall. Eric personally raised over $715.00 in donations for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.
Master Firefighter Joey Kirkpatrick has been with Longview Fire for 13 plus years, and this his second year participating in the Firefighter Stairclimb. Joey, who once High-jumped over 7' for the Washington Huskies, put his legs to work for the cause, raising $740.00 and clocking in with a time of 23:29. Like many members competing in this event Joey has a personal connection, a close childhood friend died from Leukemia. Master Firefighter Graham Lasee is no newcomer to athletic competition, having played Defensive End for the Washington Huskies from 2001-2003. As a fierce competitor, Graham posted an impressive 17:34... which was just off his personal best of 17:33. This was Graham's seventh time competing in the Stairclimb and is committed to the cause due to several friends and family members that have been adversely impacted by blood cancers. So far Graham's donations ring in at $675.00. Firefighter Mike Mann is not only Longview Fire Stairclimb Team's most senior member; he's also the team's most prolific fundraiser, this year raising $7500.00 to date. Over Mike's five-year participation he has raised well over $25,000.00 for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. What motivates this kind of fundraising? Mike's cousin Steve died of Leukemia, his Mom survived Lymphoma, and his best childhood friend recently survived Leukemia. It's fair to say Mike has a passion for the cause and he was recognized at the event as an "Elite 25", meaning he's in the top 25 fundraisers.
Lieutenant Scott Pospichal is no newcomer to the stairclimb team, but has not participated in the last few years. Scott got a late start joining the team as an alternate. His training regime was intense, hitting the gym and stairs daily as he prepared for the climb. Scott posted a time of 25.41 and has raised $350.00 thus far.
The newest addition, and eldest member, to the Longview's stairclimb team is Battalion Chief Troy Buzalsky. Having participated once years ago, Troy was motivated this year when his best friend from High School was diagnosed with Leukemia in October. During Troy's training his friend Mark passed away from the disease, and Troy dedicated his Climb in Mark's honor. Troy posted a 20:06 time, placing him 18th in the Masters Division, and raised $1800.00 in donations.
The Longview Fire Department Stairclimb Team takes both its fundraising and its performance seriously, training locally at Campus Towers, the Epson Toycom Building, and even an occasional trip to Portland's US Bank Tower aka "Big Pink". Longview Fire's Team finished in 59th place overall, with a team time of 53:14. In the weeks leading up to the stairclimb, Longview Firefighters became aware of 3 year-old Addy Joe Clifton, who is currently battling a relapse of AML Leukemia. The team quickly "Adopted" Addy Jo as their Honoree, and invited her as a VIP to Seattle to great the team as they crossed the finish line. Addy Jo's poster was proudly displayed in the firefighter staging area, and pictures of Addy Jo were placed on each of the teams helmets showing their support for Addy Jo.