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Lake Cowichan woman named Fastest Female Firefighter

Jessica Knowles climbs 48-storey wall in full gear and is named fastest in B.C.
Jessica Knowles at The Stairclimb For Clean Air fundraiser in Vancouver

A Lake Cowichan woman was recently named Fastest Female Firefighter in B.C.

Jessica Knowles recently climbed a 48-storey wall in full gear in a time of 10 minutes 37 seconds.

The climb took place back on March 16 at the Sheraton Wall Centre Hotel in Vancouver where the BC Lung Association was hosting its annual fundraiser, The Stairclimb for Clean Air.

Firefighters from all over the province were out in force to have a shot at the climb.

"It was a fun event and the main goal was to raise money for the BC Lung Association," said Knowles. "There was firefighters from all over including Dashwood and Victoria."

Knowles was in the female aged 20 to 29 category.

"I was one of six in my age group and the girl who came second was two minutes behind me," she said.

The fastest male was Dylan McIntosh from Vancouver Fire and Rescue at a time of 6:57.

Knowles finished 29th overall.

"There was 65 competitors in total and thousands also went up there without their gear on."

Knowles did extensive training for the event at the Lake Cowichan Fire Department base on North Shore Road.

"I trained a lot as I wanted to get used to my air pack," she said. "I trained at the fire hall in Lake Cowichan with all my gear on and climbed up the tower, which is three flights, and my fiancee timed me."

Katrina van Bylandt, communications manager from the BC  Lung Association, confirmed the money raised from the event in a press release.

"This year the BC Lung Association Stairclimb fundraiser raised nearly $70,000, contributing to  the $1.7 million raised over the past 11 years in support of vital lung health and air quality research."

Lake Cowichan fire chief Doug Knott was particularly proud.

"It's awesome that she took part and she surprised us all by just taking off and doing it," he said. "Jessica has aspirations to be a professional firefighter. She gets up at 4:30 a.m. to do her training."