Scania Australia has again thrown its support behind this year’s Melbourne Firefighter Stair Climb, a charity event contested by 600 firefighters with the aim of raising money to “fight depression, PTSI and suicide”.

The event was staged at Melbourne’s Crown Metropol Hotel  with  entrants tackling the 28 floor climb wearing 25 kg of turnout gear and breathing apparatus.

Scania Australia has been a supporter and sponsor of the since it started in 2014, and has so far contributed more than $45,000. 

This year, MFSC aims to raise $700,000 for the Emergency Services Foundation, Lifeline and the Black Dog Institute to improve support services, fund research, remove stigmas and raise awareness of mental health issues like depression, Post Traumatic Stress Injury and suicide, especially for those within the Emergency Service and Defence communities.

Scania’s senior national technical product support representative, Scott Hadler, took part in the stair climb for the first time and finished in an impressive 11 minutes and 11 seconds, wearing full gear and breathing apparatus. 

“The climb went past in a blur. I stopped a couple of times to catch my breath and stretch my legs out as my thighs were burning,” he said.

“I remember someone shouting: ‘come on Halder, only 14 steps to go,’ as I neared the top. The worst part was three floors in, I was thinking to myself ‘what have I done?’. It was quite hard coping with the climb in the breathing apparatus. 

“Next year I’ll be back, though, as I aim to beat the 10-minute mark,” he said.

Scott has been working as a volunteer firefighter for the last two years in the Doreen brigade, District 14. 

The Doreen brigade attends more than 230 callouts a year, with Scott attending to 120 on average. These callouts include bush fires, car accidents, house fires, and even rescuing cats stuck in trees. 

“I do it for the community, but it is also exciting and rewarding, we are all like a family,” Scott says of the Doreen brigade.

“I did train for the event; going to gym and kick-boxing as well as having practice runs up the stairs in my turnout gear.

So far, more than $400,000 has been pledged to the entrants. 

Underlining the importance  of  the funds raised by the stair climb, Scania points ou that three million Australians are currently living with depression and anxiety, while one in four Australians will suffer from a mental illness in their lifetime. Suicide is the leading cause of death for Australians aged between 15 and 44 and claims 3,000 Australians every year, an average of eight people every day. 

Scania says that In 2015 alone, 41 members of the Australian Defence Force died by their hand on home soil, which is more than were lost on the battlefield during 14 years of war in Afghanistan. Between 2001 and 2016, 373 members of the ADF took their own lives