Spent to the max

By Jarryd Barca

Max Daye felt on top of the world when he successfully soared up 28 floors of Melbourne’s Crown Metropol Hotel as part of the recent Melbourne Firefighter Stair Climb.

The Rutherglen volunteer set out a goal of 10 minutes when he first decided to partake in the event but surprised himself when he finished with a time of six minutes and 16 seconds. 

But it’s more than just a race and nearly 700 firefighters from all across the country participated in the exhausting stair climb, where competitors are carrying 25 kilograms of turnout gear and breathing apparatus’ as they make their way up a gruelling ascend.    

This year money is being raised 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.

Mr Daye said he felt “knackered” when he reached the top.

“It was a very difficult challenge, physically and mentally, particularly with any exercise when you’re exerting yourself, but then when you’ve got the apparatus on it’s a different beast all together,” he told The Free Press. 

“I was just incredibly exhausting, my legs copped it the most but you really do need good cardiovascular fitness.

“I was completely stuffed at the end, my heart rate felt pretty high.”

It’s a very worthy cause that is motivating enough to get to the top, with 10 per cent of emergency service people suffering from PTSD.

But Max raced to the top in his father’s memory, who passed away just a couple of weeks prior to the event.  

“I know that he would’ve been proud of my achievements, he thought it was a pretty good thing when I spoke to him about it,” Mr Daye said. 

“It was pretty difficult, that was a bit of extra motivation for me to get to the top.”   

Mr Daye said the toughest part about the climb was staying mentally focussed. 

“I got to about the 11th floor and I don’t remember the last time I did a physical challenge that I had the thought of ‘am I going to make it to the top’? I went a bit too hard at the beginning but once my heart rate lowered a bit I was able to get into a rhythm,” he said.

“That was a really difficult moment for me because I could have very easily given up, but I pushed through.”

Mr Daye said he trained for nearly 12 weeks in the lead up to the event, which included a lot of leg work and cardio.

“I was actually using breathing apparatus sets while training just to get my head around being able to push myself under those conditions,” he said.

“I was using the multi-level car park at Albury a lot and also did general gym work.”

Mr Daye praised all the firefighters who participated in the event and said he is proud of the Stair Climb initiative.

“Obviously mental health is a very big issue, I just think that everyone coming together for this one cause is definitely a good thing and it was great to see the amount of people there.” 

Mr Daye took the time to thank everyone for their support and encouraged people to continue to donate money to a “very worthy cause”. 

“I would like to thank my wife Helen and family for their love, support and encouragement during my preparation, as well as the Rutherglen Fire Brigade for getting behind me during the endeavour. Also a special thanks to Gaye Shale from Navitas Health and Fitness for her guidance and input during this journey,” he said.

“Additionally I would like to congratulate all event winners and everyone from District 24 for their efforts in partaking in the Stair Climb.”

Michael Ward from South Melbourne MFB recorded the fastest time of the day, racing up the hotel in three minutes and 34 seconds, while Fiona Macken from Diamond Creek CFA was the fastest female on the day with a time of four minutes and 47 seconds – 33rd overall. 

To donate to the cause, go to and help them reach their goal, or support Max here: 

If you are going through a hard time call Lifeline on 13 11 14.