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Portland Fire Department Takes to the Stairs
By American Lung Association
Nov 16, 2011 - 6:05:30 AM

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In 2009 and 2010, the Local 740 Portland Fire Department returned to Maine with the Race Up Boston Place firefighter trophy in tow. In 2011, the guys were defeated by the Needham Fire Department, by a mere 18 seconds. The race to the top this coming February is sure to be exciting.

Not that the firefighter competition of the stairclimb events isn't always exciting. For the past four years in Boston, people have come from near and far to cheer on fire departments from all over New England as they take to the stairs, in full gear. Firefighters have a special tie to the American Lung Association's mission. For centuries, firefighters have willingly taken on buildings engulfed in flames and smoke, in order to save lives. Events such as the Race Up Boston Place stairclimb remind people just how fearless these men and women are in the face of danger.

A few years ago, Chris Tillotson participated in a stairclimb event in Orlando. After he finished, he took to the internet to find similar events closer to his home state of Maine. Inevitably, he came across the American Lung Association's Fight for Air Climb held annually in Boston. "Originally, I saw this as a personal challenge as well as physical fitness competition," says Chris. "Ultimately, it is about raising money for a good cause."

That first year, Chris brought the idea to his fellow firefighters and seven of them raced alongside him to the top of One Boston Place. Over the past four years, their team, led by Chris, has expanded a bit. Chris is hopeful that others in the department will catch on. "We come back and talk about what a great weekend we had and before you know everyone wants to be a part of it," he explains.

The guys from the Local 740 have not only walked away with the trophy before, they have also had tremendous in fundraising. With $10,760 raised in 2010, the team took the title of Highest Fundraising Team. This past February, with $9,815 secured in donations, Portland Fire ranked second in team fundraising, among more than 180 teams. The guys hope to reclaim their designation as highest fundraisers, due to the incredible support they have received over the years.

Because the team members all have varying work schedules, and live different lifestyles, training as a team can be difficult. Franklin Towers, the tallest building in Maine, encompasses 16 stories, and the guys found some time to use the building in their training for the last stairclimb. Mostly, team members take part in a lot of running and circuit training to prepare for such an event. And of course, you can often find them training in full gear.

The 2012 Race Up Boston Place stairclimb will be held on February 4th at One Boston Place in the Mellon Financial Building. Sponsors for the event include: CB Richard Ellis, Aeropoint Security Enterprises, WZLX 100.7, Mix 104.1, Captivate Network, Boston Magazine, and Whole Foods Market.

All participants are responsible for a $35 registration fee as well as a $100 fundraising minimum. All proceeds benefit lung disease research, advocacy and programs as well as anti-tobacco and clean air initiatives in Massachusetts. Visit for more information.

Elizabeth DiMartino

  • The American Lung Association of New England is part of the American Lung Association, the oldest voluntary health organization in the U.S. Established in 1904 to combat tuberculosis, our mission today is to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease. The focus is on air quality, asthma, tobacco control, and all lung disease. ALANE serves CT, MA, ME, NH, RI and VT.

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