Public Affairs Burnham

by Charlene Smart

Burnham based New Zealand Defence Force firefighter is taking training for this year’s Sky Tower Stair Challenge step by step.

To complete the event, a Leukaemia and Blood Cancer New Zealand annual fundraiser, Sapper (Spr) Petra Dye-Hutchinson will need at least 1,103 steps to reach the finish line near the top of Auckland’s Sky Tower building.


Spr Dye-Hutchinson is a member of the 2nd Engineer Regiment of the NZDF based at Burnham military camp.

She said she signed up for the Sky Tower race because she loves the challenge it brings to run up 1,103 steps in full fire kit, as well as wanting to raise awareness and support those with leukaemia and blood cancer. “The combat challenge is part of my training and will help me prepare for the Sky Tower by improving my fire fitness, which isn’t just about how fast you can run or how heavy you can lift, but is also about mental toughness and how you can condition your mind to get the job done,” she said. Spr Dye-Hutchinson said the most challenging part of the Sky Tower race will be controlling her breathing while wearing full kit.

“The mask gets all fogged up, your heart rate increases, your body almost panics but it is a mental game and you just have to tell yourself to breath,” she said. The goal for Spr Dye-Hutchinson is to raise more than $3,000 for Leukaemia and Blood Cancer New Zealand.

Before that event, in May, Spr Dye-Hutchinson will join her NZDF team to take part in South Island United Fire Brigade’s Association Firefighter Combat Challenge. 

The combat challenge event, which is being hosted by the Alexandra Volunteer Fire Brigade in late March, pits fire crews against each other over a series of challenges, which includes wearing full structural firefighting uniform while completing a series of physical challenges, similar to real emergency situations.