Firefighter Frequently Asked Questions

** YOU MUST BE AN ACTIVE FIREFIGHTER (professional / volunteer / retired) IN ORDER TO PARTICIPATE.   You must be at least 18 years old on event day. **

What does a team captain do?

In short, they are the main contact person for the team. Team Captains update the team’s online fundraising page, serve as a contact person for any battalion change requests, fundraising questions, logistics, etc. Team Captain can pick up race kits for team members, or send a delegate. It is our hope that Team Captains will ensure their team raises at least the fundraising minimum of $200 per person, and maybe more to ensure no one has to face cancer alone.

One of my team members will not be able to compete, can I swap in another team member in his/her place?

Yes, with a limit of five substitutions per team. Swaps must be facilitated by the Team Captain. Each person who wishes to compete in the Firefighter Stairclimb Challenge must register as a new participant and meet the minimum fundraising requirement on his/her own. That is, the minimum $200 must be raised by the climber. Refunds will NOT be given to the originally registered participant.  All swaps should be completed by Friday, April 20th at 12pm MST; after this date.  Substitutions will NOT be allowed on the day of the event.

Please contact Wellspring’s Events Manager for more information, or to facilitate a substitution.

Karen O’How
T (403) 990-5790

When will race start time groups be posted?

Race start time groups will be posted the week before the event after the swap/drop deadline. You’ll receive an email with your team or individual start time.

Our team is new to the event, do I need to attend a meeting about rules?

We ask that all new teams have their team captain check in at packet pick up for a basic overview of event rules and regulations. You will receive further instructions on event day at the muster station and start line. Key rules are:  pass on the left, stop when you need to, tell a stairwell monitor if you need to exit the stairwell before floor 55 (they are stationed every 3 floors), don’t toss your water bottle in the stairwell – give it to a monitor. Look out for each other and help another in need.

If a member of your team who has picked up the race bib is unable to attend the stairclimb, please be sure to turn in their timing chip (included in your team packet) to the Bag Check area. Participants will be charged a $30 fee for missing chips.

What equipment is required?

The following list is required if you are racing in full firefighter duty gear (competitive). There is an option to climb without gear but you will not qualify for the challenge prizes (non-competitive). If you do not have your own gear, it will not be provided for you and you will be racing in the non-competitive stream.

If you have any questions about the equipment needed, please send an email to either Brian McAsey of the Calgary Fire Department ( or Karen O’How, Wellspring Calgary Events Manager (

FULL structural firefighting gear: boots, pants, and coat (liners intact), and helmet. No modified gear. Flash hoods will not be worn. Breathing apparatus will be worn without being on air and without facepiece. Do NOT bring your own SCBA as this will be provided for you during the race. No other tools or equipment are allowed.

Each firefighter participant is required to use gear which meets current NFPA structural firefighting standards. Gear that is not issued by your department for structural firefighting must meet NFPA 1971-2007 for structural firefighting. In the event that your fire department does not issue bunker gear, boots or helmets that comply, entrants must use the gear issued by your department that meets the next most current NFPA requirements. No modified gear allowed for the competitive race entry.

Boots used for the event must meet NFPA 1971-2007 for structural firefighting standards. It is the responsibility of the participant to verify NFPA standards on their specific brand of boot prior to the competition.

Gear will be checked before the race starts; if you are not in full (approved) firefighter gear as noted above, you will be timed in the non-competitive stream.

Here is a picture of approved full duty gear for the climb.


Are special hotel discounts available?

For our out of town guests, our preferred hotel is The Westin Calgary.  Located in beautiful downtown Calgary, The Westin Calgary is ready to host you and your family with an exclusive event rate.  Please CLICK HERE to find out more information about hotel discounts when they become available and book your stay.

When does the race start?

The starting time for this year’s climb is 9:00AM. Opening ceremonies will begin at 8:15AM on 6th Avenue SW (in front of the BOW).

After the first group ascends, the rest will follow at 20-second intervals. If all goes well, the last climber will be recovered and back on the main floor by 2:30PM.

Is parking available?

Ample street and parkade parking is available in the area. Street parking is free on Sunday.
Here’s a list of parkades nearby and their weekend (daily) rates (typically 6am-6pm):

Lot Address Rate* Notes
James Short Parkade 112 – 5 Ave SW (5 Ave entrance) – Lot #40 $2 Calgary Parking Authority
James Short Parkade 115 – 4 Ave SW (4 Ave entrance) – Lot #40 $2 Calgary Parking Authority
Convention Centre 727 – 1st Street SE – Lot #60 $5 Calgary Parking Authority
Impark – Harry Hays 220 – 4 Ave SE – Lot #316 $3 Impark
Impark – Surface Lot 316 – Macleod Trail SE – Lot #185 $4 Impark
Impark – Surface Lot 414 – Centre Street S – Lot #236 $6 Impark
Impark – Surface Lot 307 – 1 Street SE – Lot #330 $5 Impark
Impark – Suncor Energy Centre 150 – 6th Avenue SW – Lot #373 $2 +GST Impark
Telus Tower 411 – 1st Street SE $4 Indigo
BOW Building 500 Centre Street SE $5 Indigo
Delta Bow Valley 209 – 4 Avenue SE $10 Indigo



How long will it take me to complete the race?

This depends on each participant’s fitness level, speed and the amount of time spent at rest areas. Top racers finish in as little as eleven minutes, while the average participant takes about 25 minutes to finish.

Can my friends and family attend the Firefighter Stairclimb Challenge?

Your friends and family are more then welcome to attend, however spectators are not permitted inside THE BOW building during the event. Friends and family are welcome to wait on 6th Avenue where they can watch you cross the finish line on floor 55 from the streetside jumbotron.

Are water stops available on the route?

We’ll have water available at the start of the race and on recovery floor 54 of THE BOW building after your climb. You can bring your own plastic or unbreakable water bottle if you’d prefer, just remember the steps are cement. For fire code reasons we cannot provide water in the stairwell for you. It’s hot and dry in there so do plan on staying hydrated.

When does registration open?

Registration opens January 4, 2018.  Watch Facebook, Twitter, this website and your inbox (if you’re a past participant) for the official launch annoucement.

Can we practice in the building before the event?

No. Due to safety, security and liability reasons, we cannot allow anyone in the building before the event begins. However, the Calgary Fire Department has prepared a great resource to help you plan your training schedule.  Even if the tallest local building in your city is 3 only stories, we’ve got you covered.

CLICK HERE to view and download the training plan.

How much does it cost to participate in this event?

The early bird event registration fee is $200.  You can donate the full amount at time of registration OR pay a minimum $50 fee and fundraise the rest.  The $200 fee will be charitably tax receipted.  You MUST raise the full $200 by March 29, 2018 to reserve your place in the climb, or you give us permission to charge your credit card for the balance.

On March 30, 2018, the fee increases to $250 per person payable in full.

It’s easy to fundraise when you tell people why you’re climbing: to take on a personal challenge to support those affected by cancer.  If you’re on a team, as long as your team raises $200 per person each firefighter’s registration fee is assumed to be covered. 

Every $150 you raise ensures one person receives one full month of programs and resources offered through Wellspring Calgary.  The more you raise, the more people you help!

Which direction do the stairwells wind?


Who can I contact at Wellspring Calgary with Firefighter Stairclimb Challenge related questions?

For questions or for more information, please contact Wellspring Calgary Events Manager, Karen O’How, (403) 990-5790/


Can I take a camera or video recorder up the stairs with me?

No. THE BOW security policy prohibits cameras, video recorders, cell phones, and selfie sticks in stairwells.  Go-Pros are allowed as long as they’re securely fastened to the climber’s gear.

The event will have photographers and videographers on hand to capture the event.  After you cross the finish line on floor 55, the recovery area on floor 54 has beautiful vistas of Calgary and the area. We’ll have a photographer on floor 54 to take photos of you and your team so you’ll have a memento of the day.  Copies of your photos will be available to you at no charge.

How do I recognize the person I’m honouring with my climb?

If you are climbing in memory of or in tribute to someone, please fill out this form. Or, send us an email with your tribute and a high-resolution JPEG photo of the person you’re honouring to

You’re also be invited to write the name of the person you are climbing for on your race bib.


I started as an individual, can I now join a team?

Yes, you can change your team registration status through the Participant Centre. Login and navigate to the ‘Manage Team Membership’ link in the right sidebar.

When is race package pick-up?

Race package pick-up will be on Saturday, April 28th, 2018 from 3-6pm (location TBD) and on the day of the event starting at 7:30am.   Stay tuned for more details on location.

I’m in a team, can I change to race as an individual after I’ve registered?

Yes, you can change your registration status through the Participant Centre.  Login and navigate to the ‘Manage Team Membership’ link in the right sidebar.  Here you can change teams or remove yourself from a team to participate as an individual.

When is the Opening Ceremony, and is it mandatory?

We welcome everyone to attend the Opening Ceremonies on Sunday (event day) at 8:15AM on 6th Avenue SW in front of the BOW building. There will be a procession in of the Calgary Fire Department Honour Guard, the Pipe Band, and some dignitaries. Yes, there will be a few short speeches and the presentation of the TOP FUNDRAISING awards to individual and team winners. The first climbers will begin their ascent at approximately 9:00AM.

Family and friends are invited to attend the opening ceremonies as well. There will be a public area for people to congregate and to wait for the climbers to finish and return to street level. It is not mandatory that climbers attend, but it is a nice way to start the day and to celebrate each other together!

Can I enter a team?

Yes.  Teams can be any number of people.  In order to compete in the timed team competition, however, you’ll need to divide your larger team into subteams of four people.  One option is to name all teams of four the same followed by a number; for example, Calgary Fire Department 1, Calgary Fire Department 2, etc.  Or, think of a creative name for your team and then include which fire department you represent so we can keep track of your city results.   This is a great way to have halls or shifts within a city compete against each other.

Please note, a team is NOT a relay.  Each climber on a team is timed individually and climbs the full height of the building.  Your team members’ cumulative individual times will be tallied for the final team race results.  Each person on a team is required to raise their individual $200 registration fee by March 29th (early bird rate), or $250 after March 30th.   If your team raises the equivalent of $200 per person, however, everyone is considered registered.

How do I fundraise?

After you register at you’ll be able to set up a fundraising page with a photo and a short personal story about why you’ve chosen to do this challenge.  You’ll also be able to set your personal and team fundraising goals after which you can send your page to your friends and family asking for donations.

Do you have any training tips for me?

Yes, the Calgary Fire Department has kindly put together a training plan to help you get ready to climb the 1204 steps/ 775 feet of the BOW Tower.  Click below for the plan.

Firefighter Stairclimb Challenge Training Plan

When do all the funds from pledges and donations need to be in by?

Your minimum $200 donation must be received by Wellspring Calgary by March 29th at 12pm MDT to hold your spot.  If you haven’t raised or donated this amount, you agree to allow Wellspring Calgary to charge your credit card will be charged for the balance owing.

In order for climbers to be eligible for top fundraising awards, all money raised must be processed or delivered to Wellspring Calgary by 6:00 pm MDT on Saturday, April 28, 2018.  Cash and cheque donations can be dropped off at Race Package Pick-Up on Saturday, April 28, 2018 from 3-6pm, location TBD.   We’ll also accept cash and cheque donations on the day of the climb and up until May 30th however money raised or processed after April 28th will not count towards top fundraising awards.

Contact uf for more info!

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