OC firefighters will ‘Fight for Air’ in Philadelphia

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OCEAN CITY — It’s quite a challenge; 50 flights of stairs, 1,088 steps to the top of 3 Logan Square, but in an effort to save lives and keep America healthy, a half-dozen Ocean City firefighters say they are up to the task. In fact, they’re going to do it twice.

On March 24, the firefighters are racing to the top of a Philadelphia high-rise building to help raise funds for the American Lung Association by participating in “The 2012 Fight for Air Philadelphia” and they would like the community’s support.

Firefighters Steve Costantino, Dan Coan, Wyatt Clevenger, Mike Regenato, Kevin Muller and Tim Quinn are competing in the Fight for Air event and a special First Responders Challenge immediately following.

The OCFD competitors will compete against first responders from around the region, with an award given to the team with the fastest cumulative time. The Century Climb, 100 flights of stairs and nearly 2,200 steps, is a real test of endurance.

“It’s a real test of skills, and it helps keep us sharp and in shape,” Costantino said. “We thought it was a really good cause. We like to do things to raise money for charities, whether it’s for Cystic Fibrosis or the American Lung Association.

“We’re going to do it once with everyone who signs up, they start one person every 10 or 15 seconds,” he said. “Then we do it again, in full firefighter gear, with our boots, helmets and jackets, against the other firefighters.

“We’re really looking forward to it,” Costantino said. “Stair climbing events are becoming very popular for fundraisers in cities where high rises are common. It’s sort of like a 5K race, but you climb. Fifty flights of steps is about five times higher than anything we have in our town.”

He said the appeal of the challenge is that it is different.

“I did one a few years ago and it was fun,” he said. “Some of the other firefighters said they would like to try it. We run six guys and they take the top four best times. They score it like a cross country race.”

Costantino has raced up stairs at the Empire State Building and the Sears Tower in Chicago, but even with his experience, he said he is not the best on his team.

“Wyatt is the best guy on our team,” he said. “He can run it in under 10 minutes. It’s a hard race, it’s not a long event, it’s not exhausting, like an endurance event; it’s fast and it’s over pretty quickly. You start, you keep going and the next thing you know you’re finished.”

Firefighters, Costantino said, are generally in top physical condition.

“Particularly at the shore,” he said. “We’re all active, we’re out running, riding bikes, kayaking, windsurfing, surfing. We’re watermen most of us, really the whole town is pretty fit, so this race is really a good fit and a neat challenge for us.”

Racers are timed through chips placed in their shoes. As they step over the starting line at the bottom, the chip records the start. When they break the threshold at the top, the race is over.

“There are no discrepancies, no issues, the time is what it is,” he said. “As you climb, you can pass each other on the steps, but the staggered start really helps. You are in a sense racing against yourself.”

The American Lung Association was founded in 1904 as the National Association for the Study and Prevention of Tuberculosis. By 1954, TB was largely controlled in the United States.

Now in its second century, the American Lung Association is the leading organization working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease.

“Almost everybody knows someone affected by lung disease or some breathing ailment,” Costantino said.

The average adult, he noted, takes 15 to 20 breaths a minute – over 20,000 breaths a day. Our respiratory system, which includes the nose, throat, windpipe (trachea) and lungs, brings air into the body when we breathe. In the lungs, the oxygen from each breath is transferred to the bloodstream and sent to all the body’s cells as life-sustaining fuel. Keeping your lungs healthy is an important part of an overall healthy lifestyle, but for some, the process is impeded by lung disease.

“We’re really happy to be able to do something to help. We hope everyone can make a small donation, or if you’d like to join us that would be great, too. You don’t have to race; you can walk the steps at your own pace. The more the merrier.

“We’ve raised $1,300 so far and we’re shooting for $1,500,” he said.

For more information see www.lunginfo.org/phillyclimb.



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