MFD shoots for fifth win

Three Marshalltown firefighters have been training in hopes of claiming a victory in a statewide competition for the fifth year in a row.

Dan Oswald, 24, Chad Jones, 41, and Isaac Allmaras, 24, will climb the steps of the EMC Insurance Companies, Hub Tower and the Des Moines Marriot Downtown, in Des Moines, as part of the Fire Department Challenge for the American Lung Association in Iowa’s 2014 Fight for Air Climb on Sunday.

More than 1,150 people will participate in the event and climb 1,179 stairs on 66 floors.

Micki Sandquist, executive director of the Lung Association said it’s a fun and unique challenge, and a testament to increase awareness of lung disease and the need of research and programs.

“Our supporters are not just climbing up stairs,” Sandquist said. “They are taking steps to fight lung disease in honor or in memory of loved ones.”

This will be the fourth year Oswald and Jones have competed in the Fire Department Challenge.

“We like to win it,” Oswald said. “I’m looking forward to winning it for our fifth year straight. We’re all pretty excited about that.”

Allmaras has been with the Marshalltown Fire Department since February. He said he is looking forward to competing.

“I know I have some big shoes to fill,” Allmaras said. “I also have a lot of support from other members of the department which is really encouraging.”

Allmaras said Jones has been a great motivator.

“I’m fortunate to be on his crew because he has pushed me really hard during workouts and prepared me for the Air Climb,” Allmaras said. “Keeping up with Chad is hard but just seeing his diligence and how he works out is a great motivation for me.”

Scott Johnson, acting fire chief, said he is proud of the trio for participating.

“I’m glad they are representing Marshalltown,” Johnson said. “I’m proud of these guys. It’s a neat thing to do.”

All of the firefighters competing said they believe in the cause – lung cancer research, education and advocacy.

“Firefighters kind of have a higher risk of getting some kind of cancer and a lot of money goes towards research in that, so we like that,” Oswald said.

Allmaras said he agrees and feels honored that he can help fight lung cancer by participating in the event.

“We are very privileged to be a part of the fundraiser,” Allmaras said. “Our main goal is to fund support for research and help those who have been affected with lung cancer one step at a time, literally.”