Firefighter steps up big time

Andy Tomlinson finished second fastest in the gruelling Firefighter Sky Tower Stair Challenge on Saturday May 19. Photo supplied

Dannemora’s Andy Tomlinson is already looking at next year’s Firefighter Sky Tower Stair Challenge having this month clocked the second fastest time to tackle the 1103 steps of Auckland’s 328m Sky Tower.

The fastest firefighter and winner for his eighth year in a row was Josh Harrison of Mt Wellington Fire Brigade who set a new record for the event at 8 minutes and 11 seconds.

Tomlinson, who spent 18 months at the Howick Station, completed the climb in 9m19s, while Gavin Mason of Queenstown Airport was third with time of 9m34s. Mason’s time was all the more remarkable given that last year he was diagnosed with the rare auto-immune disease Guillain–Barré syndrome and was barely able to climb one flight of stairs.

The fastest woman up the tower was Ady McKenzie of Whangarei Fire Brigade with a time of 13m 12s.

Contestants attack the stairs wearing up to 25kg of firefighting kit.
Tomlinson, who is 195.5cm (6’5″) tall and weighs 95kg, admits the training regime was gruelling. He was hitting Proximity Apartments in Manukau which has a modest 15 floors.

“Just to add to the training prior the event, the stair climbing at Proximity, indoor rowing and Assault airbike were my main training tools.
“This is with the team at Crossfit East Tamaki, on Nandina Ave.”

This was second attempt. Last year he was third.

“For me, next year I’m keen on improving my time.”

Results from the previous year gives the contestants “poll” position for the challenge.
Firefighters taking part raised more than $1.25 million for Leukaemia & Blood Cancer New Zealand.

Some 950 firefighters from New Zealand, Australia and the US took part.