By Nick Sinis

FOR the second year in a row, the annual Melbourne Firefighter Stair Climb event will be undertaken virtually instead of being held at the Crown Metropol.

The event kicked off on September 10 and finishes on World Mental Health Day on October 10.

The stair climb goal is for participants to collectively complete one million steps for mental health.

Individuals are encouraged to climb at least 3046 steps, representing one step for each Australian who dies by suicide each year.

Inverloch CFA Captain Steve Forrest, and another brigade member, are participating in this year’s event, completing their steps at Shack Bay.

“We’ve been doing it for a number of years with various brigade members. But for this year and last year, it’s just about getting out and active, climbing the steps to symbolise the stair climb, while advocating and promoting discussions around mental health.”

Mr Forrest said fortunately the Shack Bay area offers spectacular views to complete his steps, and he hopes to do more 5000.

“I’ll do as many as I can. I’ve been wearing a weight vest to simulate the extra equipment carried by firefighters,” he said.

“But it also simulates the weight that people carry internally when they’re struggling with mental health.”

More than $2.5 million has been raised across a variety of charities since the first stair climb challenge in 2014. With a goal of $500,000, funds for this year’s challenge will go towards Lifeline, Fortem Australia and the 000 Foundation.