When Templeton Fire Department isn’t responding to emergencies, they’re supporting the mission of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society to find a cure for cancer.
For six years, the department has partnered with more than 2,000 firefighters from 26 U.S. states and seven countries to climb Seattle’s 788-foot-high Columbia Center, the second-tallest building west of the Mississippi. The LLS Firefighter Stairclimb, held on March 10, symbolizes the perseverance of those who have fought various forms of cancers.
Templeton’s eight participating firefighters included Team Captain Brandon Wall, who serves as the California Ambassador, Phillip Goldbloom, Jeff Tomlinson, Haustin Morrison, William White, first-time climbers Kurt Mann, Marcus Smith and Brendan Thoele, plus ten firefighters from Cal Fire and three more from San Luis Obispo Fire Department.
The annual flower sale at Templeton’s firehouse in February brought in $15,000 and netted $8,000, all of which is donated to fund cancer research. For the event, all firefighters personally fund their own expenses, including airfare and accommodations. In 2018, the Templeton Fire Department raised $18,788 and increased its total this year to $21,661.
“We trained for months in full gear two or three times a week,” Brandon said. “Cardio work and climbing at a steady pace are key to making it.”
Despite the mild weather, temperatures in the stairwell soared as firefighters in full structural turnout gear converged in a timed ascent of 69 flights. The act of consuming a full air bottle alone has been compared to running two miles without a break.
“It’s the largest ‘on-air’ competition,” Brandon said. “It can be hot, anywhere from 80 and 90 degrees. We got water poured down our backs just to keep cool.
Brandon’s wife, JoAnn Wall, served as bottle changer to keep everyone oxygenated.
“Not only do we benefit from the camaraderie within our fire department, but with firefighters from throughout the world,” she said. “As a team, we climbed for North County resident Stephanie Rothbauer who is fighting Acute Myeloid Leukemia.”
The firefighters also climbed in memory and honor of retired Fire Captain Mike Erb, longtime Administrative Secretary Celeste English, Fire Chaplin Richard Burch, “Team Maddy” Gonzalez and others in the community.
At age 44, this is Brandon’s sixth year in Seattle.
“I climbed for my sister-in-law, Ann Marie Woods, who got cancer and beat it,” Brandon said. “I’ll do this until I can’t do it anymore.”
To learn more, go to get.colonymedia.us/stairclimb