The biggest set of stairs Steve Serbic ever climbed during his firefighting days was eight stories.
On Sunday, in full gear, the former Esquimalt Fire assistant chief will join Oak Bay firefighter Trent Frenkel in climbing 48 stories of the Sheraton Wall Centre hotel in Vancouver. The Climb the Wall event is a fundraiser for the BC Lung Association and about 150 of the approximate 350 participants who make the climb each year are firefighters.
The climb is not easy and it comes with strict rules for the firefighters. They must wear full firefighting equipment and breath through a full air tank.
“That makes it tricky, you have to pace yourself to make the tank last,” Frenkel said.
Serbic has wanted to do Climb the Wall for 18 years. The former Surrey firefighter has not actually fought fire for years and even hurt his back recently, limiting his training. He’s doing the stair climb out of a special relationship he had built with former Oak Bay News reporter Keri Coles, who died from cancer on Nov. 7.
“Keri was there the day a woman died on the balcony of the 843 Craigflower fire [on April 7], when a crowd of people witnessed that death,” Serbic said. It was the worst call of Serbic’s career.
“We had actually connected before that,” he added. “Keri did a powerful, touching story for the firefighting community on the loss of [Oak Bay Fire chaplain] Ken Gill.”
“I realized how amazing Keri was a person when she helped me set up the first of many Ken Gill Classic memorial classic hockey games,” Serbic said. “I feel honoured to climb those 48 floors fully loaded with bunker gear and on air in Keri’s memory.”