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. **

Are special hotel discounts available?

For our out of town guests, we have one preferred hotel that is ready to host our everyday heroes and their families with a preferred rate exclusive to you during your stay in Calgary. Please CLICK HERE to book your stay with the Westin Calgary, located in downtown Calgary (320 4 Ave SW, Calgary, AB).

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) $2 Calgary Parking Authority
James Short Parkade 115 – 4 Ave SW (4 Ave entrance) $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 $2 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 course of the competition. Friends and family are welcome to wait on 6th Avenue for you, where they can watch you cross the finish line on floor 55 from the streetside jumbotron.

Are water stops available on the route?

We will have water available at the start of the race and on the recovery floor 54 of THE BOW building. 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. And we’ve been told it gets hot and dry in there so do plan on hydrating somehow.

When does registration open?

Registration will open on January 12, 2017. Watch facebook & twitter and your email (if you are a past participant) for the notice.

Can we practice at 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 own training schedule. Even if your tallest local building is 3 stories, if you work up to climbing those stairs 14 times, you’ve ascended the BOW tower’s 1204 steps!

CLICK HERE to view the workout plan: BOW Tower StairClimb Challenge Personal Training Tips

How much does it cost to participate in this event?

A minimum $200 donation is required to participate in this event. You can donate at the time of your registration OR you can raise that amount later from family, friends and neighbours. (The $200 will be charitably tax receipted.)  Your $200 must be received by March 31, 2017 to reserve your place in the climb. As of April 1, 2017, the fee will increase to $250 per climber. Also, if you haven’t raised your required minimum $200 by March 31, your credit card will be charged the balance.

People tell us it’s easy to fundraise for support when you let others know you are taking on this personal best challenge to help people living with cancer. Use your participant centre to send emails and direct people to your fundraising page. If you’re in a team, as long as your team has raised $800 total, 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 directly impact!

Which direction do the stairwells wind?

Counter clockwise.

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

For questions or additional information, please call Karen Perron, Events Manager, at (403) 990-5790 or email us at


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

No. THE BOW security policy prohibits cameras and video recorders in the stairwells. The event will have assigned camera people and video-filming on hand to record the event progress.

After you cross the finish line on floor 55, the recovery area on floor 54 has beautiful vistas of Calgary and area. We will have a photographer taking your picture showing you made it to the top. You will have a copy of this picture made available to you at no charge.

How do I recognize the person I am climbing in honour/memory of?

If you are climbing in memory or tribute to someone you know, we would like to honour that person too! Please fill out this form. Or send an email with a high resolution jpeg photo of that person to Wellspring Calgary at

You will also be invited to write on your race bib the name of the person you are climbing for, in memory of, in tribute to, or just because.


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 section in the sidebar.

When is Packet Pick Up?

Race Packet pick-up will be on Saturday May 6, 2017, from 4pm – 6pm at a location to be determined. Stay tuned!

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 section in the sidebar. 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, a “team” consists of exactly four people. If you have more people in your department or city that want to participate, you’ll have to enter multiple teams. The reason for this is for race timing purposes:  all teams are based on times of 4 people. There is no limit to the number of teams you register. You can make the name the same as the first team with the number 2 after it (for example, Elkford Fire Rescue 2).

When you register, you will be taken through the process of how to set up your team. This is an awesome way to have halls or shifts within a city compete against each other, or create a team with some of your best buddies to compete. Think of a creative name for your team and be sure to note which fire department you represent when creating your team so we can keep track as a whole how each city did.

Please note, a team is NOT a relay. Each climber in a team is timed individually and climbs the full height of the building. Your team members’ cumulative individual times will be tallied for team price placement in race results (if entering as a competitive team). Each person in a team is requested to fundraise or donate their individual $200 race entry fee. However, when your team raises $800, each person is considered as qualifying with the $200 fee.

How do I fundraise?

After you register at, you will be able to set up a fundraising page with a photo and a short personal story about why you’ve chosen to accept and do this challenge, as well as set your personal or team fundraising goal. Then you will be able to send this page to all your friends and family, and encourage them to sponsor you to help support Wellspring Calgary, so no one has to face cancer alone.

Do you have any personal training tips for me?

Yes, the Calgary Fire Department has kindly put together a personal tips for training suggestion for you to get ready to climb the 1204 steps/ 775 feet (55 stories!) of the BOW Tower. Click below for the tips.

BOW Tower StairClimb Challenge Personal Training Tips

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 the 31st of March to hold your place in line. You can donate this yourself or fundraise it from your family and friends. If you have not raised or donated this amount, your credit card will be charged for the balance owing.

In order for the climbers to be eligible for incentive prizes, all money you’ve raised must be processed or delivered to Wellspring Calgary by 5:00 pm on Saturday April 30th. Donations can be dropped off at the race pick up days (see When is Packet Pick Up for dates and times). We will continue to accept donations until May 30th however, money raised or processed after April 30th will not affect the climbers’ incentive prize qualifications.

You can enter your pledges onto your page as unconfirmed gifts prior to April 30th and these will count towards your fundraising goals. Then bring the cash and cheques with you when you arrive for your climb on Sunday (in the Bag Check area). There will be a desk there to accept your donations at that time.

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 one or the other climber. Refunds will NOT be given to the original registered participant*. All swaps should be completed by Monday prior to the event day; after this date an additional fee of $25 may be required. Swaps may not be permissible the day of the event. Please contact Wellspring’s Events Manager for more information, or to facilitate a substitution.

Karen Perron, Events Manager
T (403) 990-5790

*If you have 4 people on your team and have raised over $800 the new addition will NOT be required to raise an addition $200 as it is already covered in the total.

When will race start time groups be posted?

Race start time groups will be posted about a week before the event, after the swap/drop deadline (around one week prior to event day). You will also receive an email for 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

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 face piece. 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.


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