Otho firefighters hit the stairs

OTHO – Rushing up the stairs of a skyscraper in full protective gear isn’t the norm for volunteer firefighters from small, rural communities.

Some of the volunteer firefighters in Otho are veterans of such staircase sprints, however. For the fifth year in a row, a group of them will tackle some of the tallest buildings in Des Moines as part of the Fight for Air Climb, which is a fund- raiser for the American Lung Association.

Fire Chief Marty Smith and firefighters Joel Dornath, Ryan Dornath, Justin Hayes, Evan Pugh and Jacob Winge will participate in the March 16 event.

”It’s for a good cause,” Pugh said.

He added that the stair climb, and the training that’s leading up to it, provides good exercise.

Each firefighter must raise $100 for the American Lung Association. Contributions can be made to the individual firefighters or by visiting FightforAirClimb.org.

The Otho firefighters are divided into two teams for the event. Joel Dornath, Hayes and Pugh are one team. Ryan Dornath, Smith and Winge are the other.

The event will be held at the EMC Companies building, Hub Tower and Des Moines Marriott Downtown. Each team member will run up the steps of one building. Their times will be combined and compared against those of other teams of volunteer firefighters in a competition to determine the fastest team.

All the firefighters will climb the stairs wearing boots, helmets, protective coats and pants, and self-contained breathing apparatus. That’s about 50 pounds of gear, according to Ryan Dornath.

”I don’t care about winning,” he said. ”I just want to beat my time and stay in shape.”

Smith said the each Otho firefighter will finish their part of the stair climb in six minutes or less.

He added that at 65 he’ll be the oldest firefighter there.

”I’m doing it just to get into better shape,” he said.

During the five years they’ve participated, the Otho firefighters have raised about $2,500 for the American Lung Association, Ryan Dornath said.

The firefighters began training for this year’s event about three months ago. Their training regime includes running up and down steps, jumping rope and doing push-ups and sit-ups.