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Firefighters complete another stair climb

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Chief keeping mum until all money is tallied

By Casey Steiner

The Courier-Herald

The dead sprint to the top of the second tallest building west of the Mississippi was the easy part. Now the 19 Buckley firefighters who competed in the March 6 Firefighter Stair Climb - Climb for a Cure, have to defend their fund raising title.

In their first year competing in the event, the "little" Buckley Fire Department was the top fund raiser in 2004. They topped more than 130 departments from around the state of Washington - and a few from neighboring states - in raising $17,575.40 for awareness and finding a cure for leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin's disease and myeloma.

Although he's hesitant to prematurely give competitors a heads up on this year's fund raising efforts, Buckley Fire Chief Alan Predmore is confident his crew will retain its title.

"The most popular question on Sunday was "how much has Buckley raised?" Predmore said. "We're shooting to turn our money in March 16, but we don't want to tell people how much we've raised just yet. We don't want to give anyone the chance to turn in some money at the last second and surpass us."

Prior to the event Predmore estimated Buckley would need to raise more than $20,000 this year to be the top fund raiser. He didn't confirm the department has made that goal, but says they've improved upon last year's number. All departments competing must have their money turned in by March 31, so the public will find out who the winner is after that date.

"We think we'll be number one again," Predmore said with a smile.

To earn money for the stair climb, firefighters collected pledges from their community. The pledges pay each individual based on his or her performance at the 69-flight Bank of America Tower. The competitors earned their pledges one stair and flight at a time as they raced wearing full fire fighting dress, carrying 50 pounds of gear and sucking on a required breathing apparatus to the top of the 1,311 steps of Seattle's tallest skyscraper.

The department got involved after a parent of both firefighters Jeff Cocker and Angie Riggsby were diagnosed with cancer last year. "It hit home at that point," Predmore said. "So we decided to do everything we possibly could to help out, with a goal of being the top fund raising department."

Of the 907 firefighters who finished the race, Predmore finished 164th with a time of 17 minutes, 49 seconds. He was the top placer of the 19 competitors from Buckley.

"It was a lot of fun, everybody did well," Predmore said. "We're looking forward to making the trip again next year."

Dean Mundy, who at age 52 finished in a time of 18 minutes, 52 seconds, was the seventh finisher of 30 competitors in his age bracket. He also had the second best time of his Buckley comrades.

Donations can be made by calling the Buckley Fire Department at 360-829-1441 or sending pledges to Buckley Volunteer Firefighters at P.O. Box 1015 Buckley, Wash. 98321. All checks should be made payable to The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (or TLLS for short). All proceeds to the event go to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

Casey Steiner can be reached at csteiner@courierherald.com.

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