Wakatipu firefighters sizzle for calendar and big stair climb

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THESE two stunning Wakatipu volunteer firefighters are heating things up for an annual fundraising calendar. 

Queenstown Fire Brigade’s Tiffany Menzies (top, left) and Frankton’s Gabbie Ernst recently spent a day in Auckland, er, hosing around on a photo shoot for the calendar coming out in September. 

It will sell for $10, with $1 from each going to the Child Cancer Foundation. Each will appear solo for a particular month alongside 10 other female volunteers from around the country – this shot (above) was taken for fun on the day.

Menzies, 27, says it was a very supportive shoot and everybody had hair and make-up done prior: “I was on a high afterwards – it was a big confidence boost to be chosen.” 

Ernst, 29, adds it was a lot of fun and great to meet other female firefighters from around the country who were doing the same thing – volunteer firefighting – but had different bacgrounds. 

The pair return to Auckland for a separate fundraiser this weekend – the annual Firefighter Sky Tower Stair Challenge. Participants must run as quickly as possible up a lung-busting 1033 stairs to the top dressed in full kit weighing 25kg, heavy boots and breathing through their apparatus which only has about 20 minutes worth of oxygen. 

The Leukaemia and Blood Cancer NZ foundation is the charity and the Frankton and Queenstown crews have raised more than $5000 between them, adding to a running national total near $600,000. 

For Ernst, an BNZ banker, it’ll be her second crack at the challenge, and she hopes to break 15 minutes:
“It’s probably one of the hardest 15 minutes of your life. 

“You feel exhausted at the end, almost drunk. You’re a bit light headed, a bit out of it for a few moments, really hot and probably sweat a couple of litres. It’s a hard slog, straight up and everything hurts.” 

Her and Menzies will be joined by Dan Coleman, of Queenstown, and Frankton’s Brad Johnston, Sam Willis, Jamie Harris and Adam Mullally. 

Menzies, Shipleys audio-visual’s operations manager, will have extra motivation, planning to have a photo of her older step-brother Paul Radville with her – he died back home in the United Kingdom in January after a brain tumour. 

“I’d already signed up [for the challenge]. They’d managed to get rid of his first tumour but symptoms came back and they found more and he passed away. It’s just an extra reason to do it. It’s a different condition [to the fundraiser] but at the end of the day you’re helping people and it doesn’t matter whether they’ve got same condition or not. 

“It’s been hard coming to terms with – I’ve been here five-and-a-half years. It’s almost like he could still be in London causing trouble and fighting with his brother. I don’t think it’s really sunk in yet, it’ll be interesting to see how I feel on the day.” 

Menzies adds: “There’s nothing I can do to help him any more so he can help me instead.” 

To donate, go to www.firefightersclimb.org.nz/Donations.html