Firefighters prepare for Seattle stair climb

February 11, 2017

For the fifth year in a row, Pocatello firefighters will tackle a grueling vertical climb of 788 feet in full gear during the Scott Firefighter Stairclimb in Seattle on March 12. Joining them in Seattle with their own team for the first time will be three firefighters from the Idaho National Laboratory.

The event is a major fundraiser for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and draws firefighters from all over the world. When they reach the top if the Columbia Center in Seattle, firefighters will have navigated 1,311 steps on 69 flights of stairs in full gear, including oxygen masks.

The team captain for the Pocatello Fire Department participants this year is Jordan Peterson. He will be joined by Capt. David Scott, Sean Hunter, Kent Risher and Stan Tharp.

The INL team is led by Jim Schindlbeck with team members Nichelle Labrum of Pocatello and Eddie Cotrina of Rigby.

Last year’s Pocatello team managed to raise $5,215 for the fight against blood cancer.

As part of their fundraising efforts, the five firemen will be participating in a stair climbing exercise inside Fred Meyer in Pocatello from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Feb. 18.

“Cash donations would be very welcomed,” said Peterson.

The INL firefighters will be holding two fundraising events. The first will be held from 10 a.m. to noon Feb. 18 at CrossFit Octave, 128 S. Fourth Ave. in Pocatello. In full bunker gear, the three INL firefighters will participate in a workout with other people. The second event will take place at The Sand Trap on South Bannock Highway Feb. 22 when a percentage of proceeds from sales will be donated to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

Peterson said the cause means a lot to him because he lost a close family friend to blood cancer back in 2014. That year, Peterson had joined the Pocatello Fire Department and he was given an opportunity to participate in the Seattle climbing event by former city fireman Travis Dubois.

Dubois had spearheaded participation in the annual fundraiser in 2012 after moving to Pocatello from another department that taken part in the tough Seattle event. The first year, Dubois was joined by Scott and Brian Judge. Judge and Dubois have moved from Pocatello, but Scott is still participating.

In fact, Scott remains the local firefighter to beat. Last year at age 39, Scott finished 10th overall in his age division with a time of 15:03. The next fastest time for a Pocatello fireman was Andy Homes who finished in 16:51. Homes was 48 and finished 12th overall in his age division. Tharp and Peterson finished 17:48 and 18:12, respectively, in last year’s event.

“Dave usually does really well,” Peterson said about Capt. Scott.

To help shave some time off his 2016 performance, Peterson said he’s been climbing stairs inside Idaho State University’s Holt Arena and trying to boost his fitness level.

And he said he’s learned somethings about himself based on his past efforts inside the Columbia Center. In full gear, firefighters climb up 69 flights of stairs.

“The first year, every time I took a break it was 10 times harder to get moving again,” Peterson said. “This year my only break will be at the top.”

Schindlbeck said the INL firefighters have been training hard for their first go at the Scott stair climb.

Schindlbeck and Labrum have been cross-country skiing on the backside of Pebble Creek Ski Area and doing stairs inside Holt Arena. All three INL firefighters have been running the stairs in full gear at the fire training tower located at the INL.

Schindlbeck said he became interested in participating because he lost an aunt to lymphoma. He has set a goal of doing the massive Seattle stair climb in 12 minutes.

“If I blow my lungs up for someone with leukemia, I’m willing to do that,” Schindlbeck said.

The eight Southeast Idaho participants will join firefighters from all over the nation and world. Last year’s event for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society drew 1,900 firefighters from 330 different departments, including five foreign countries. The event raised $2.3 million for blood cancer research and patient services.

“When you get 2,000 firefighters in one building, it’s pretty emotional,” Peterson said about the Scott climb.