On Sunday, more than 300 participants, many of them firefighters, took part in the first annual FDNY Foundation Climb to SUMMIT.
Racers climbed 73 flights of stairs to the SUMMIT observatory of One Vanderbilt in Manhattan, which is 1,100 feet high.
“That was fantastic. That was an amazing feeling, just going up through the sky with my brothers. It was great to represent and I feel great,” Assem Elghaziri, a firefighter with Ladder 11, said.
The foundation partnered with SL Green Realty Corp., the skyscraper’s developers. They say one of the goals of the event was to highlight the physical fitness necessary for FDNY members.
“In a typical situation, they could be, you know, upwards of 100 pounds of gear and equipment going upstairs. The importance of the physical fitness is paramount. And we look to showcase that today,” Matt Diliberto, vice chair of the FDNY Foundation and CFO of SL Green Realty Corp., said.
For firefighters, the stamina and endurance needed to complete a challenge like this climb is expected of them daily.
“Right now, if this was a job, this is where we’d start our work. We'll start our work after climbing three stairs and now we go to work,” Robinson Aupont, a firefighter with Ladder 14, said.
Organizers say this race was inspired in part by a fire that happened on the Upper East Side in November, where FDNY members had to climb 21 flights of stairs to rescue people who were trapped.
Sunday’s climb was a fundraiser. With more than $160,000 raised, stair climbers will be purchased to go to different FDNY stations. Firefighters say the equipment is essential.
“It's an integral part of our training. Absolutely. Yeah. It goes hand in hand, you know. Without stairs, you can't go up when there's no elevators, when the building's on fire. We got to take the stairs,” Elghaziri said.
The foundation hopes to give the department support with the new equipment and training they need to always be physically ready for their work.