Two Bellingham residents were among the top finishers in the Firefighter Stairclimb held Sunday, March 8, and two Whatcom County fire departments are among the 24th annual event’s top fundraising teams.
In the event, which featured some 1,710 firefighters from around the world, firefighters race up 69 flights of the Columbia Center in Seattle, wearing full fire gear with a mask and air pack.
It benefits the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s research and assistance to people with blood cancers. Competitors raised more than $1 million through pledges and donations.
Winner for a record fourth year in a row was Andrew Drobeck of Missoula (Mont.) City Fire with a time of 10 minutes, 46 seconds. Drobeck also holds the event record at 10:39, set in 2012.
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Brent Molsberry of Bellingham, a two-time event winner who works for Everett Fire Department, finished eighth with a time of 12:34. Peter Ellis of South Whatcom Fire Authority finished 16th with a time of 12:57.
Ellis, who also works as a climbing ranger at Mount Rainier, improved his 2014 time by 15 seconds — but was six places lower than last year’s top-10 finish.
South Whatcom Fire’s Sam Brown was 109th with a time of 15:56 and Jeff Stephan was 188th with a time of 17:01.
Missoula City Fire won the team competition with a time of 36:37, the sum of its top three finishers’ times. South Whatcom Fire — with eight full-time employees and about 60 volunteers — was 15th among the 190 teams with a team total of 45:54. It serves the residents of Geneva, Sudden Valley, Yew Street Road, Lake Samish and Chuckanut Drive.
South Whatcom Fire was No. 8 among all fundraising teams, collecting $24,094 through pledges and fundraising events. Last year, South Whatcom Fire raised about $14,000.
Whatcom County Fire District 18, serving South Lake Whatcom and the Cain Lake area, was No. 8 in per capita fundraising, with the average participant raising $2,114.
Firefighters from North Whatcom Fire & Rescue and Whatcom County Fire District 7 (Ferndale) also participated in the stairclimb.