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Making a difference . . . Firefighter Ben Bringans and nine other Oamaru Volunteer Fire Brigade firefighters are stepping up to raise funds to fight cancer. PHOTO: SHANNON GILLIES

The Oamaru Volunteer Fire Brigade may struggle to hold on to its title of top fundraiser at this year’s Firefighter Sky Tower Stair Challenge in Auckland, but the team’s captain says it will not go down without a fight.

Last year, the brigade team of three raised $24,136.72, the most raised nationally in the category for a team with two to five members, and the group also won the overall fundraising prize for all teams.

Oamaru captain Ben Bringans said the title might be harder to claim this year as the team of firefighters taking part had grown to 10, so the ratio of money earned per person could be smaller.

“If we get something along the way, that would be great, but it’s just a bit of fun.”

He believed so many more people were attracted to the event this year because the stair climb was a different way to show community support.

The Oamaru team was training hard for the event, a fundraiser for Leukaemia and Blood Cancer New Zealand, he said.

There was a strong focus on cardio to make the 1103-step challenge in firefighting gear easier to complete.

“It’s a lot of grunt work, running and stair training. It’s 15 minutes of hell and then you get to the top.”

Mr Bringans said any money raised went straight to the charity, as his teammates would cover their own competition costs at the May 13 event.