If you do not follow the instructions concerning our policy on external links
your submission will be sent to the spam folder.
Photo: Capt. Christopher Rizza and firefighter Richard Ragucci are seen at the Essex Street Firehouse Monday in Saugus. Firefighter John Rescigno was training at the Fire Academy. (Item Photo / Matt Tempesta)
Three Saugus firefighters will be racing up 40 flights of stairs to help raise money for the American Lung Association.
Capt. Christopher Rizza and firefighters Richard Ragucci and John Rescigno have been training for more then three months for the annual Fight for Air climb.
“We started training in late October,” said Rizza. “This is the first time we’ve done it. John is the new guy in the group and it was his idea, so we all signed up for it.”
The race takes place on Saturday, Feb. 4 at One Boston Place on Washington Street in downtown Boston.
According to the American Lung Association website, around 70 fire companies from Massachusetts are signed up for the climb, with the goal of raising $350,000. So far more than $88,000 has been raised, with Saugus raising $440.
“Each individual has to raise about $125, that’s the minimum,” said Ragucci. “We put out e-mails and use Facebook. We’ve been talking about doing it for the last year-and-a-half, but something has always come up.”
While climbing 40 flights of stairs is hard enough, Rizza said they have to make the trek with more than 50 pounds of gear, including bunker pants, a coat, a helmet and a breathing apparatus.
One disadvantage for the firefighters, however, is that the tallest building in Saugus is the eight-story Laurel Towers on Rice Street. To compensate, Rizza said, they run up and down the stairs 10 times for a total of 80 flights.
“Everyday that we’re here we go up there and run up the stairs,” said Rizza. “That’s all we’ve been able to use. We might walk up those stairs if we had an elevator rescue or something. But we wouldn’t be doing it 10 times. It’s not that often we’re going up that many flights. Cambridge and Boston? Obviously they do.”
Ragucci said it’s not easy to sustain a full-out run in their gear, so they try to keep a steady pace.
“It’s not a run, but it’s not a walk,” said Ragucci. “There’s no way to physically run in all the gear, but it’s probably the equivalent of a jog.”
Rizza said they climbed in just shorts and T-shirts when they first started training in October, and then added equipment as the weeks went on.
“We did that for like two weeks then we added the bunker pants and then the tank,” said Rizza. “... Each step gets hard and harder and your legs just burn.”
Ragucci said he’s feeling confident about Saugus’ prospects with about three weeks left to train.
“We’ve been at it pretty steadily so we’re all pretty comfortable,” said Ragucci. “It’s a healthy competition. You don’t want to let another department beat you.”
To donate to the Saugus Fire Department, visit the American Lung Association website at http://www.lungusa.org/ and search for the Saugus Fire Department.
Written by By Matt Tempesta / The Daily Item