News

Max’s brave fight

By Jarryd Barca

One of Rutherglen’s finest volunteer firefighters, Max Daye will be undertaking the most difficult of challenges when he races up 28 floors of Crown Metropol Hotel in Melbourne later this year.

Mr Daye will be competing in the Melbourne Firefighter Stair Climb on Saturday, September 1 to help raise money and awareness for suicide, depression and PTSD.

Approximately 650 firefighters from around the country are expected to take part in this year’s annual stair climb, where firefighters need to carry 25 kilograms of turnout gear and breathing apparatus.

And Max will be one of them.

“The cause is just a good one,” Mr Daye told The Free Press.

“Mental health issues are a really big thing these days especially PTSD and depression, and particularly amongst emergency services and defence which is what we’re raising money for.

“On top of that I just like a bit of a physical challenge, I thought it was something that would challenge me and it gives me something exciting to do and look forward to. I haven’t done it before, this is my first time.”

The Melbourne firefighter Stair Climb aims to raise $700,000 for Lifeline and the Black Dog Institute to improve support services, fund research, remove stigmas and raise awareness of mental health issues like depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and suicide, especially for those within the emergency service and defence communities.

According to the MFSC website roughly three million Australians are living with depression and anxiety, with suicide being the leading cause of death among Australians aged between 15 and 44. Roughly 10 per cent of emergency service people suffer from PTSD.

“Mental illness is a pretty common thing in society and there are probably not many people that don’t know somebody that has been affected by it or even affected by it themselves,” Mr Daye said.

“I think it’s a good thing that I’m doing this and hopefully I can raise a bit of money to try and help folks that are out there suffering from it.

“On the (Melbourne Firefighter Stair Climb) website it says there have been 41 Australian soldiers that have committed suicide in the last little while but I believe the number is around about 250 since 1999 just from different employments. It’s a huge issue for emergency services too.

“I’m really looking forward to it because of the tough physical challenge, but I just really believe in the cause as well so it ticks two boxes for me.”

Mr Daye is no stranger when it comes to a daring fitness test, having competed in several marathons and an Ironman challenge in New Zealand nearly 17 years ago.

The three-year CFA member is always up for a challenge and is certainly looking forward to this one.

“I’m hoping I’m fit enough, I think the average time is about 10 minutes so if I can  get under that it would be good,” he said.

“I think a guy from a New Zealand Fire Service won it in about three minutes or something ridiculous like that last year so I don’t know about that but I think I can get to the top in one piece.”

Mr Daye is a volunteer firefighter who started off in in Wodonga, and has done a range of things helping eradicate wild fire situations, urban fires, structures and grass and scrub fires.

Despite living a life of wanting to experience a physically exhausting challenge and being naturally fit and a keen, Mr Daye admitted he has been training for this year’s event.

“I’m doing a fair bit of training for it, a lot of stair work and a bit of gym work, trying to get myself ready for it,” he said.

“There’s a fair bit of strength work that I’m doing in the gym, which is mainly just working on leg strength and core. For general fitness I’ve been doing a little bit of cycling as well.”

So far, Max has raised $195 of his $1,000 goal to go towards mental health.

There are 57 days left to donate money. To find out more about the event, Lifeline, Black Dog Institute or to donate money and sponsor Max, visit the MFSC website at https://www.firefighterclimb.org.au/.