The Tower Trek in Full Gear

While most people prefer elevators, thousands will opt for the stairs instead on Saturday in the annual Trek Up The Tower Challenge at the First National tower in downtown Omaha.

Most are making the climb in their exercise clothes but several area firefighters are heading to the top sporting all their emergency gear.

Rich Nieto has been working on the challenge by climbing the stairs at Elmwood Tower at 51st and Leavenworth in full gear. It’s a 21 floor hike.

He said, “When we come to a high-rise fire, we have the obstacle of, first we've got to get to the fire depending on what floor it is.”

Firefighters like Nieto have to be ready for the worst. For the last couple of months, Nieto and other area firefighters have been suiting up with at least 45 pounds of gear and climbing around 330 steps up Elmwood Tower.

Part of it, is to show just how ready they are. Rich and other firefighters are conditioning in preparation to take on the 40 floors and 870 steps in the First National tower. The firefighters will be among thousands of others participating in the climb.

Nieto easily made it to the top at Elmwood. Now comes the larger challenge.

He said, “I've kind of headed the event for the Omaha Fire Department and I made the choice that if we were going to do it, we were going to go on air and try to be as real-life a situation as we may encounter, if we do come to a high rise fire.”

Eight firefighters from Papillion and seven from Omaha will be among the 2,000 people expected for the First National trek.

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