Firefighters defend stair-climb title |

Firefighters defend stair-climb title

Staff Reports
Méschelle Kesteloot

A team of local firefighters successfully defended the title of “Fastest Firefighting Team” for a fifth straight year in a row at the American Lung Association’s Fight for Air Stair Climb event on April 21. Dressed in full structure firefighting gear, firefighters from the East Fork Professional Firefighter’s Association, IAFF Local No. 3726, raced up 36 floors in the stairwell of the Silver Legacy Hotel Casino.

Firefighters Nick Summers (6 minutes), Dave Norvell (6:23 minutes), and Mike Hackler (6:27 minutes) were the fastest firefighters and East Fork swept first, second, and third places. The East Fork Firefighters also took first place for firefighting team. Through the donations they collected, the East Fork Professional Firefighters were fifth for raising funds for the American Lung Association’s corporate teams.

The team: Jeff Cates, Jeff Costa, Mike Hackler, Matt Hill, Walt Kesteloot, Matt Kruse, Dave Norvell, Torril Purvis, Chad Sheldrew, Roby Safford, and Nick Summers; were all wearing the additional 65 pounds of gear and breathing compressed air from their firefighting self contained breathing apparatus. Climbing under the team name of “Bellona’s Breathers,” for retired East Fork Fire Captain John Bellona, the team demonstrated a remarkable testament to the fitness required to work effectively as a firefighter.

The firefighters chose to climb for the American Lung Association because firefighting has been identified as a high risk group for occupational related lung diseases, including lung cancer. “Bellona’s Breathers,” was chosen as a team name because Bellona had suffered a respiratory insult from a hazardous materials incident involving bromine several years ago that left him with a chronic lung injury. According to Walt Kesteloot, public affairs chairman, “For the firefighters of IAFF Local No. 3726, the Reno Fight for Air event represented something very personal for our organization and profession.”