Firefighters gearing up to achieve UK’s highest ladder pitch on Ben Nevis

Firefighters gearing up to achieve UK’s highest ladder pitch on Ben Nevis
Tom Easter (far left) said the team are looking forward to the challenge (Tom Easter/PA)

A team of 11 firefighters are on a mission to achieve the UK’s highest ladder pitch by climbing up Ben Nevis wearing fire kits weighing approximately 15kg.

Tom Easter, an on-call firefighter from Halstead Fire Station, is to take on the feat on May 18, alongside 10 fellow on-call firefighters from the station who will all be donning firefighting tunics, trousers, gloves, boots and helmets.

On-call firefighters report to their local fire station during emergencies, from their home or place of work, during their agreed-on call hours, which in Mr Easter’s case is 90 hours per week.

Fire kit with a sign on itThe attempt takes place on May 18 (Tom Easter/PA)

They will begin their hike up Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in Scotland, from 6.30am, with the aim of reaching the summit by 11.30am and pitching the ladder.

He said the idea was sparked when thinking of a “team building” activity, with the record included as a way to make the day more enjoyable.

“The record itself is not going to be recorded – we’re doing it unofficially,” the 31-year-old who lives in Halstead, Essex, told the PA news agency.

“When we were researching challenges like this, we couldn’t find anyone that had done something with a ladder and thought it might be fun to do.

“We tried to contact Guinness World Records (GWR), but their fees were pretty much equal to our fundraising goal.

“We’re going to just focus on pitching the ladder on the summit and the charity aspect.”

Group of men standing togetherSome of the firefighters taking part in the challenge (Tom Easter/PA)

He said if the attempt could be funded by a corporation, then the team would “definitely like to record this”.

“All we need is (GWR) to verify it, not attend to adjudicate it,” he added.

The team are close to achieving their £5,000 goal for The Fire Fighters Charity, which offers health and wellbeing support for the UK fire and rescue community.

“We always hoped the goal would be achievable, but we weren’t sure if we would get donations before or after we had finished the climb,” Mr Easter said.

“To see donations flooding in already is really good and we hope this continues after it is completed too.”

Mr Easter said training has mainly taken the form of playing squash and trying to fit in practice hikes where possible.

Some of the kit which will be carried by the firefighters during the challenge (Tom Easter/PA)

“We’ve had a test run (on April 10) of what it would be like on the day, so we’ve carried the ladder and all our kit to a pub (Five Bells in Colne Engaine, Essex) that was two and a half miles away, just to get a sense of what it would be like on the day,” he said.

“When we arrived, one of the locals there – who was also a police officer – bought us a round of drinks and also donated £25 and the pub owner also donated £100, which was really nice.”

Mr Easter has prior experience taking on Scotland’s highest mountain, having reached the summit last March in “probably the most extreme conditions that you could climb it in”.

“There were high winds, low visibility, loads of snow at the top and it rained the whole way down,” he added.

“However, even with that experience, it was absolutely fantastic, hence why I’m happy to go do it again.

As not everyone on the team has climbed Ben Nevis, he said he hopes the challenge will be a “good experience” for all involved.

“We’re all really looking forward to getting to the top with the ladder, pitching it and being the first people to climb that ladder at that height,” he added.

“It will be a real sense of achievement for the entire team.”

He added they will also unfurl a banner at the top, which has the logos of companies who have donated thousands of pounds towards the cause on it, and celebrate the feat with a pint and lunch at the Ben Nevis Inn.

Pascale Harvie, president and general manager of JustGiving, said: “I’m inspired by (Tom) and the whole Halstead Fire Station team as they continue to raise significant awareness and support for the Fire Fighters Charity.

“From everyone at JustGiving, we wish them all the very best of luck in their mission to break the world record and we hope to see them reach their fundraising target very soon.”

The team’s fundraising page can be found here:

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