Enderby firefighter Andrew Haak. (Photo submitted)

Okanagan firefighter steps up to challenge

Andrew Haak will be one of hundreds of firefighters taking part in the Firefighter Stairclimb Challenge in Calgary on May 5

Cancer is a prevalent occupational risk for firefighters. In honour of this, on Sunday, May 5, hundreds of firefighters from around the world will climb the stairs of Calgary’s BOW tower, one of Western Canada’s tallest buildings, in support of firefighters and citizens living with cancer.

Among them will be Enderby firefighter Andrew Haak.

Haak, 27, said he dreamt about volunteering for the Enderby Fire Department since he was a young child.

“I grew up two houses down from the fire hall so if they were going out at two in the morning, I was up and looking out the window and wondering where they were going,” he said.

At age 22, his dream became a reality. This November will mark five years that he’s been with the team. He became aware of the stair climb from a friend and decided to take part about six weeks ago. He had hoped to rally together more of a team to attend with him but it was too last minute this year.

“I’m hoping to gain some more attention and get guys from the surrounding areas more interested because people come from all over the world to participate and there’s only a few guys from B.C. who go.”

Haak has a personal connection to raise money and awareness for cancer because his grandfather died of cancer at a young age.

“I’m definitely motivated by my grandfather,” he said. “I have a higher chance of getting cancer because I’m a firefighter and we go into burning buildings which are full of bad carcinogens and that kind of stuff. I’m definitely doing it in honour of him.”

Haak plans to raise a minimum of $500 for the cause and hopes his community will consider donating.

“It makes it a little competitve between the fire departments to see who can raise the most but in the end we’re just hoping to raise awareness because we’re all just a big family.”

Haak will be travelling to Calgary in May to attend the Firefighter Stairclimb Challenge. Those participating will wear all their equipment (with the exception of their breathing mask) — including boots, pants, jacket, helmet and SCBA (Self Contained Breathing Apparatus) — and climb 775 vertical feet and more than 1,200 steps to raise awareness and funds to stand in solidarity with their fellow first responders in the fight against cancer.

To donate, visit http://give.wellspringcalgary.ca.

Related: Busy night for firefighters

Related: Vernon junior firefighters on front lines

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