Firefighters climb Seattle’s tallest building for cancer research

Mar 13, 2023, 8:47 AM
(Photo from KIRO 7)...
(Photo from KIRO 7)
(Photo from KIRO 7)

With 788 vertical feet of elevation across 69 floors, the Columbia Tower is the tallest building in Seattle, and around 2,000 firefighters climbed to the top Sunday to raise funds for blood cancer research and patient services.

The event is called the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society Firefighter Stairclimb, and in it’s 32 years of operation they have raised has raised over $24 million for cancer research.

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The firefighter stair climb is the organization’s third-largest annual fundraiser. Keith Johnson, an ambassador for the LLS Firefighter Stairclimb from Snohomish County spoke with KIRO 7 about the fundraiser and it’s importance to the firefighting community.

“It’s pretty common knowledge that in the fire industry, cancer is something that we’re trying to protect our members from,” said Johnson. “This isn’t just a noble cause. It’s a personal cause to just about every single firefighter here.”

The event included firefighters from across 37 states, Canada and also France, with participants climbing a total of 1,356 steps to reach the top of the observatory.

Some of the fastest climbers can climb to the top of the tower in only 12 to 14 minutes, but the average participant takes 18 to 24 minutes to reach the top, and the fastest time this year was a little under 11 minutes.

While Sunday’s event was only open to career or volunteer firefighters, members of the general public will have a chance to complete the climb and raise funds for the LLS during the Big Climb on March 26.

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Firefighters climb Seattle’s tallest building for cancer research