Hillcrest CFA stepping up again

L-R: Rob Drane, Vicki White, Rochelle Poulton, Molly Drane, Yiota Carabourniotis and Colin Dickson. Picture: SUPPLIED

By Callum Ludwig

Hillcrest CFA firefighters are once again gearing up for the annual Melbourne Firefighters Stair Climb.

Six members are set to take on the challenge this year and have begun preparing for the event which will take place on Saturday 7 September.

4th Lieutenant Rochelle Poulton said her first time climbing was in 2018, and ever since she has participated every year even when it was a virtual climb.

“By taking part in this challenge, I feel empowered knowing that my efforts directly benefit those affected by these critical issues, in particular, advocating for mental health, normalisation is crucial and speaking up helps remove the stigma that often surrounds it,” she said.

“My main fundraiser is collecting old car batteries, in 2022 I collected 300 batteries and this year I am aiming to double that and collect 600, I am also hoping that I can raise $5000 this year to bring my total tally to just over $15,000,”

“I’m fortunate enough to work in an apartment building most of the time so my prep is taking the stairs all day, every day.”

The event is raising funds for the Peter MacCallum Cancer Foundation, Lifeline and the 000 Foundation with a goal of raising $750,000 in total.

Captain Colin Dickson said it will be his first attempt at the climb.

“I have been meaning to do it for a few years as I have watched other Hillcrest members compete but timing has been wrong with holidays getting in the way or not being quick enough on the registration,” he said.

“I am curious to see how I will go, I feel okay about doing it until people you speak with about the event with suggest that you must be crazy or are too old for that sort of thing but it’s not a bad thing to step out of your comfort zone and try something new,”

“On the fundraising front, I was thinking I may not hit my original $1,000 goal but have passed that already so have increased the target to $2,500.”

The Melbourne Firefighters Stair Climb consists of firefighters climbing 28 floors of the Crown Metropol in Melbourne in full turnout gear, with some even taking on the extra challenge of using breathing apparatus (BA) during the climb.

Hillcrest firefighter Yiota Carabourniotis will be one of those people and said she is very excited to be taking part again for the third year in a row.

“I look forward to making my way to the top while actively using the BA this time round and challenging myself and my cardio with all the extra weight on from the gear and BA so I’ll be trying to improve my finish time to a hopefully a much quicker time this time round,” she said.

“I’m hoping to raise $1,059 in total this year which will bring my total for all the 3 years up to $2,500,”

“I stay relatively fit through my work and also by being involved in sports (athletics and basketball) in my spare time but I’m trying to improve my cardio more this year so that I don’t need to stop while doing the stair climb to catch my breath every few levels.”

Other Hillcrest members completing the climb include 5th Lieutenant Vicki White (third time partaking), Comms Officer Rob Drane (second time) and Firefighter Molly Drane (second time).

“I feel pretty anxious but it is for a wonderful cause, so I push through, it’s hard work but others go through so many harder things in life. I have been using a stepper machine as I am not as fit as the last two times I did it,” Ms White said.

“I’d like to think my past-time doing Irish dancing will prep my legs for the climb, but I’ll be hitting up the stair machine at the Yarra Centre and working on my cardio to help me to the top,” Ms Drane said.

“I prepare myself by healthy eating and lots of painful miles in my legs through walking hills, stair machines and exercise bikes, the stair climb is an amazing event, it supports some great causes and is a challenge mentally and physically,” Mr Drane said.

So far the Hillcrest crew have raised a combined total of $2835 and anyone interested can donate to the crew or a specific firefighter at firefighterclimb.org.au/station/cfa/hillcrest.