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. **

When will race start time groups be posted?

Race start time groups will be posted 10 days before the event and a week after the registration deadline. You’ll receive an email once team or individual start times have been posted.

My team and I are new to the event. Do we need to attend a meeting about rules?

Event rules and regulations are included in your race package or you can review them on our website in the ‘What To Expect‘ document.  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.

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.

When does the race start?

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

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

When and where does the Firefighter Stairclimb Challenge take place?

The climb will be taking place inside the landmark BOW building (500 Centre Street SE) in downtown Calgary, Alberta on Sunday, May 3, 2020.  All activities before and after the climb take place on 6th Avenue SW in front of the BOW.

Bag Check Donations & Check-In Opens at 7:30 AM
Opening Ceremonies:  8:15 AM
First Climbers Start:   9:00 AM
Firefighter BBQ reception opens:  10:30 AM
Food Service ends at 2:00 PM
Awards Presentation: 2:30 PM
6th Avenue opens again at 6:00 PM


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.

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



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 every year in December.  Watch Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, this website and your inbox (if you’re a past participant) for the official launch announcement.

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?

Registration for the Firefighter Stairclimb Challenge opens in December. You can secure your spot in the climb by registering in one of two ways:

Early Bird Registration:

1. Pay the $200 in full, or
2. Pay a minimum $50 fee and fundraise the remainder by NOON on March 27 (MDT). By choosing the delayed pledge option, you agree to fundraise the remaining $150 by March 27. If you have not raised the full amount by March 29, you authorize Wellspring Calgary to charge your credit card for the balance to reach $200.
The early bird ends on March 27 at 12 pm MDT.

Regular Registration:

As of March 28, the registration fee increases to $250 and must be paid-in-full to secure your spot. (Charitable receipt issued for this full amount.)

Because registration fees are charitably receipted, there are no refunds. You can transfer your spot to someone else in the event you cannot attend. There is an annual cap on registration. We recommend you register early.

For liability reasons, there will be NO registrations accepted on climb day. 

Which direction do the stairwells wind?


Who do I make cheques payable to?

Please make cheques payable to Wellspring Calgary.  They can be mailed to 1404 Home Rd NW Calgary AB T3B 1G7, Attn: Fund Development.  If you are sponsoring a specific firefighter or team, please please write their name on the memo portion of the cheque to ensure your donation goes towards their fundraising efforts.

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.

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/


I registered as an individual. Can I now join a team?

Yes, you can change your team registration status through your Participant Centre.  Login and navigate to the ‘Change Team Membership’ link in the right sidebar.  From there, you can search by Team Name or Captain’s Name.

When is race package pick-up?

Race package pick-up will be on Saturday, May 2, 2020, from 3 – 7pm at the Delta Hotels Calgary Downtown, and on event day, Sunday, May 3, 2020, beginning at 7:30 AM.   Details on location will be sent in an email to all registrants.

I’m on 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 SE 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 have an unlimited 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.  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.   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.

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.

Can my friends and family attend the event?

Yes, the more the merrier!  Due to space limitations, however, spectators are NOT allowed inside The BOW building during the course of the competition.  Guests can watch the Challenge via the jumbotron outside The BOW on 6th Ave.

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

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, May 2, 2020.  Cash and cheque donations can be dropped off at Race Package Pick-Up on Saturday, May 2, 2020, from 3-6 pm, 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 race package pick-up will not count towards top fundraising awards.

Will I receive a tax receipt?

Donations of $20 or more will receive a Canadian tax receipt for the entire amount of the donation provided all donor information is given. If the donation is made online via credit card, the donor will receive an electronic receipt from Wellspring Calgary via email.  In the case of cash or cheque donations, the donor will be mailed a paper receipt.

If you’re collecting cash and cheque donations, please use the following CASH & CHEQUE FORMS to record full donor contact information including address. Unfortunately, we are not able to provide tax receipts to donors with incomplete contact information.

For Firefighter Stairclimb Challenge, download this form

For Challenge the Chief, download this form 


What does a team captain do?

The Team Captain is the main contact person for the team. There can be two team captains to share the role.  They are responsible for updating the team’s online fundraising page, serving as the team contact person, and managing all team member change requests.  Team Captains can pick up race packages for team members, or send a delegate. They are also responsible for ensuring their team raises the fundraising minimum of $200 per person.

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

Yes.  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 to say, raise the minimum $200 fundraising commitment. Refunds will NOT be given to the originally registered participant.  All swaps should be completed by Thursday, April 16, at 12 pm MST.   Substitutions will NOT be allowed on event day.

Please contact us with substitution requests at