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Pittsfield Fire Department raises over $4,500 for firefighters’ cancer charity in statewide competition

The press conference in the Pittsfield, Massachusetts fire department headquarters on February 8th, 2023.
Josh Landes
The press conference in the Pittsfield, Massachusetts fire department headquarters on February 8th, 2023.

The Pittsfield, Massachusetts fire department shared the results of a weekend charity fundraiser this afternoon.

On Sunday, 11 members of the Pittsfield Fire Department participated in the 7th annual BFit Challenge at TD Garden in Boston.

“All the money raised goes to support firefighters throughout the state who have occupational cancer," said Chief Tom Sammons. "It's really important stuff. It's really important to get the word out that we face a lot higher rates of cancer than anybody else in the workforce. So, we are better at it, we're getting better every day at it, but it's really important that we take care of our brothers and sisters throughout the state.”

Pittsfield’s firefighters managed to raise over $4,500 as they put their fitness to the test alongside colleagues from around Massachusetts.

“Basically, what we're doing is, we go through the concourse of the Boston Garden," said Lieutenant Rob Leary. "So, you start at ice level, and you weave your way through the stands and then back up into the concourse level, all the way up to the promenade level. This year, they added the tower climb, which is part of the Verizon tower that’s on down there where the executives are. So, you go up another six flights of stairs in there, through the executive office, which surprisingly, they have a really good view of the Zakim Bridge down there in Boston. And then you come back down and finish on the main ice level of the TD Garden. The ice is covered up, so it's not quite as slippery as it is normally.”

Leary has been with the Pittsfield FD for over 25 years, and has participated in the Bfit Challenge three times.

“All the proceeds will go to the New England Firefighter Cancer Fund," he continued. "So, 100% goes back to them. And what they do is out of that they've offered blood tests and screenings for any member that that that wanted to get them done, and you could either fundraise on your own or they took a portion of your team donation. And then you could pay the difference out of yours to get screened for 50 different types of cancer while you're down there.”

Leary says the Pittsfield community got behind the fire department’s fundraising efforts — their largest yield to date for the BFit Challenge.

“We had some great support from community. MyCom Credit Union was very supportive with a generous donation," said the lieutenant. "We did some fundraising efforts by selling merchandise. We were out doing a boot drive at Dunkin Donuts and got great support from the public on that. And our own Pittsfield Association kicked in some money as well.”

Firefighter Jamie Law – the fastest on the team, according to fellow firefighters – said the six or seven story Verizon tower climb was the hardest part of his first time participating in the challenge.

“Chief Sammons has made it a priority for us to be fit and good at our job," he told WAMC. "So, it's just another example to have some fun and show that off.”

WAMC asked Leary if Pittsfield’s firefighters entertain any cross-state rivalries as they compete to raise money and race through the home of the Celtics and Bruins.

“Well, if we had some that were closer, I'm sure we could get a really good rivalry going," Leary responsed. "The eastern end of the state may pull off a little bit better on the fundraising than we do. But we do, for being Berkshire County and for being where we are, we do really good in our fundraising. And we appreciate the public support on getting that out there. And we will start earlier next year.”

This year’s Bfit Challenge, presented by National Grid, raised over $625,000 in total for first responder charities around Massachusetts.

Josh Landes has been WAMC's Berkshire Bureau Chief since February 2018, following stints at WBGO Newark and WFMU East Orange. A passionate advocate for Western Massachusetts, Landes was raised in Pittsfield and attended Hampshire College in Amherst, receiving his bachelor's in Ethnomusicology and Radio Production. His free time is spent with his cat Harry, experimental electronic music, and exploring the woods.
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