Boise Firefighters dominate 22nd annual Scott Stairclimb challenge

SEATTLE, Wash., (KBOI) - When it comes to heroes, there are certain professions that probably come to mind.

One of them... firefighting.

Over the weekend, local firefighters proved their dedication to serving our community doesn't end when their shifts do.

For weeks, even months, they've trained for Sunday's moment under the Columbia Center Tower in Seattle.

Inside the tower, it's preparation, mixed with pomp and procession.

Outside, 69 floors tower above the first wave of competitors.

And the only way up 1,311 steps is with 55 pounds of gear on their backs.

"I think nerves play into this," said Boise firefighter Rich Brown. "I think I'm more nervous about this than I am about going into a fire."

Brown is the team's highest fundraiser, on a department with the highest amount raised: $39,000 and climbing.

Brown's buddy in the stairwell is Nampa Fire's David O'Connor, who's amped up under the pressure.

"Hopefully the beat's fast enough," he said in line, ready to climb. "I have old school Marky Mark, so good vibrations."

But a look at who this is about becomes a reality check of why they're here.

Brown carries a photo of a boy named Gabriel, the son of an Ada County Dispatcher, battling Leukemia since 2011.

And there are more.

"This is Calvin down in Arizona," O'Connor said, pointing to a picture on his leg. "Calvin just went through 9 hours of surgery last week. So it's a huge, huge deal."

"Jason Werst passed away in 2011 in advance of last year's climb," Brown said, pointing to his helmet which bears Werst's name. "Last year was pretty rough to take, you know, you lose one of your best friends. It's horrible."

Firefighters will tell you this is a competition.

It is a race to the top and the fastest guys climb all 69 flights in 10 minutes.

Some need a bottle change on the 40th floor, but not Rich Brown, because the climb is nothing compared to what these firefighters call the real heroes.

"On every floor level, there's someone that's been affected by leukemia, lymphoma and that's what drives me and I'm sure that's what drives Rich," said O'Connor.

And this climb isn't just about their connection to each other, but a greater good.

"It's great to know you've got a brotherhood and a sisterhood that will spend this much time and effort not just on climbing, which is such a small portion of this, but they'll spend blood, sweat and tears to try and get people to donate money to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society," Brown said at the top of the tower, on the 69th floor.

And for O'Connor, reaching the top is only setting the benchmark... for next year.

"It's brutal, but we did it," O'Connor said. "Between the two of us, we raised almost 20 grand. Between our two departments, we're almost 60 thousand."

Nearly 1500 firefighters from 177 teams competed in Seattle on Sunday.

The Treasure Valley's local teams included Boise, Nampa, Eagle, and Caldwell.

Of all the race times, the Boise Fire Department came in third overall.

Nampa Fire's team remains in the top ten, and the Boise Fire Department remains in first place for fundraising.

Brown is within a couple hundred dollars of being the top, individual fundraiser.

You can still donate through the end of March.

Donations are tax-deductible.

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