David Herries (left), Lewis Shaw, Blair Gilbert, Stuart Lyall, Philip Muldoon, Philip Rennie, Rasmus Andersen.
The Okareka team were among the 850 firefighters who climbed Auckland's Sky Tower on Saturday as a fundraiser for Leukaemia & Blood Cancer New Zealand.
Lewis Shaw claimed first place in the open men's section and got second overall, Rasmus Munk was third in the open men's and fourth overall, followed by David Herries in 12th and Phil Rennie in 53rd place overall. Stu Lyall came in at 32nd in the masters' and 81st overall. In the grand masters' category Blair Gilbert took out first, coming sixth overall, and Phil Muldoon came in third, getting 11th overall. The team raised a total of $5418 for Leukaemia & Blood Cancer New Zealand. Altogether firefighters have raised just over $1.1 million.
Okareka Fire Brigade chief fire officer Philip Muldoon said although it was his third year taking part, for three of the team members it was their first time. "It was Lewis Shaw, Rasmus Munk and David Herries' first time. It's excellent for us to get fastest team for a third year in a row with a new crew. "We are really thankful to the manager of Novotel, Edward Judd - he let us train in the Novotel stairwell for the last few months and I don't think we would have got this result if it wasn't for him.
"It's always hard. We had to climb 1103 steps, 51 floors, wearing 25kg of equipment. I find it's the heat that gets to me. Once you get to through the finish line it's huge relief. "It's an awesome cause. That's what it's really about." Mr Muldoon said they were all keen to do it next year. "It's awesome that a rural service like ours can take on the New Zealand Fire Service and come out on top."
Firefighter Lewis Shaw said it was a really good day out. "It was the first time I have done the Sky Tower challenge so I didn't know what to expect, so I was really pleased." He said it was strange because he had found the training in the Novotel relatively easy, but during the challenge there was no recovery time and he found it hard to get his breath. "I managed not to stop and everybody managed to motor on," he said. Mr Shaw said he was very keen to do it again next year and his goal would be to get first overall. "It's a fantastic cause and we managed to do a bit of fundraising, we are really appreciative of Phil Muldoon as he organises us every year, it really is a great team effort."
Other firefighters from the area who also competed included a team of seven from the Ngongotaha Volunteer Fire Brigade, two from Rotorua Airport and two from the Rotorua Fire Brigade.