Covington firefighters set to defend title

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The Covington Fire Department’s 2020 Fight for Air Climb team, with the gear they wore to climb 45 flights of stairs.

3-time Fight for Air Climb champs seeking donations 

COVINGTON, Ky. – A new “playing field” and challenge will greet Covington firefighters April 25 when they defend their American Lung Association Fight for Air Climb title for the third time in a row.
 
In typical years, the competition involves donning 55 pounds of gear and running 45 flights of stairs (that’s about 804 steps) of Cincinnati’s Carew Tower.
 
This year, because of COVID-19, the climb will take place outdoors (on the upper deck of Great American Ball Park), require about 1,200 steps (or 50 percent more), and involve climbing both up and down the bleachers.
 
“This is going to be totally different,” said firefighter Stu Johnson, Covington’s team captain. “But we enjoy a good challenge.”
 
Johnson has “won” the firefighter portion of the event three years running, setting a record each time. The Covington Fire Department, meanwhile, has also placed first in the Greater Cincinnati region three years in a row.
 
Because the event is a fund-raiser for the American Lung Association, teams are also judged by how much sponsorship money they raise. To sponsor the Covington team or one of its members with a tax-deductible donation, click HERE. As of today, the team is about one-third of the way toward its $7,500 goal.
 
Besides Johnson, other Covington team members signed up thus far are Brian Moellinger, Scott Moellinger, Brandon Padilla, Timothy Petry, Ryan Reder, and Tim Reder. Johnson said that by the day of the event, he expects about 15 Covington firefighters to have signed up and compete.
 
Johnson said the event builds camaraderie, creates an opportunity for bragging rights, and also is indicative of Covington firefighters’ commitment to their job.
 
Obviously it pays to be in good shape when, at a moment’s notice, you could be carrying a smoke inhalation victim out of a burning building, handling a high-pressure hose, or climbing a ladder. For the stair climb, firefighters wear an air pack, a helmet, and a heavy firefighter’s coat, pants, and boots.
 
Last year, Johnson ran the 45 flights wearing that heavy gear in just 6 minutes, 47 seconds. Covington placed six of the top 10 finishers in the firefighter division, and the cumulative total of its top three finishers was over six minutes faster than the second-place department.
 
Now that they’re on top, Covington is determined to stay there, Johnson said. Some members have been working out at the firehouse gym, while others just don their gear and run flights of stairs in office towers and apartment complexes around the city.
 
“Firefighters need to be in good shape, and this gives us something to train for,” he said. 
 
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