Porirua firefighters putting in the hard yards for Sky Tower Challenge

From left, Porirua volunteer firefighters Osi Meavao, Xan Ioane, Alamaine Thomas and Paul Setefano will take part in the Sky Tower Stair Challenge in May. - PAUL SETEFANO

Putting a pack on his back and climbing up and down the stairwells of a Wellington office building is not Paul Setefano's idea of fun, but it has to be done.

The long-time Porirua volunteer firefighter will be taking part in his eighth Sky Tower Stair Challenge on May 13.

The record 900 participants - organisers are starting to put a cap on entrants due to numbers increasing each year - will be dressed in full firefighter gear with 25kg of equipment on their back.

Then they have to ascend the Sky Tower's 1103 steps, or 51 floors, all in the name of raising money for Leukaemia & Blood Cancer New Zealand.

Setefano said it got a bit harder each year, but he and the three others from the Porirua station were dedicated.

"Our focus has more been on the fundraising, so the hard part is done before we get to [the Sky Tower]," he said. "We fundraise together but the onus is on you to do the training.

"Once we're there in Auckland, it's just a case of taking a big breath and doing it.

"My training always goes out the window and it takes me ages to get to the top - I ask myself why I do it each time."

He spends a few lunchtimes each week, going down in the lift in his office building, climbing the stairs, and then repeating.

"I get a few funny looks and if anyone is silly enough to ask why, I tell them."

Setefano will be joined by fellow Porirua firefighters Xan Ioane, Alamaine Thomas and Osi Meavao.

​Firefighters from the Tawa, Plimmerton and Titahi Bay volunteer brigades will also be taking part, shaking buckets outside supermarkets in the coming weeks prior to the big day.

Setefano and his Porirua teammates did brilliantly in 2014, topping the money-raised leaderboard as they raised more than $40,000 in five months.

The last few years they have not put in "crazy hours" like they did that time, he said, but the hope is till to raise $10,000 for the cause.

In 2016, firefighters from across New Zealand collected $1.1 million through sponsorship and hitting the streets with fundraising buckets.

*Go to firefightersclimb.org.nz to donate.

 - Stuff - KRIS DANDO

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