Saudi Aramco Firefighter Scales New Heights For Charity

A young Saudi Aramco firefighter has helped raise in excess of $2 million for a leukemia charity by stair climbing 69 stories of a U.S. high-rise building while carrying a full kit of life-saving equipment. Amer Waleed Garatli, a 25-year-old associate degree student of Fire Protection Technology AAS at Portland Community College, has been praised for showing exemplary dedication and personal initiative. The grueling stair climb, a fundraiser for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, requires firefighters to race up 69 flights of stairs in Seattle’s Columbia Center in full safety gear — a total of 138 flights of stairs. Garatli managed to sign up for the charity event after being put on a waiting list due to the level of uptake. “Basically, the event is stair climbing 69 stories with full firefighting gear and Self Contained Breathing Apparatus,” he said. “Time was really tight for me to start arranging stuff, most important of which was shipping my gear over. My family supported me all the way and ensured that I received all of the stuff that I needed and I am grateful for their efforts to make this happen. “Since the event’s main purpose is to help raise funds for leukemia patients, I had the idea of making a custom T-shirt to support this society. I then thought of representing my company and my country as a whole, being the only Saudi participant among the 1,711 firefighters from across the world,” Garatli added. “That was the reason for me putting the logos on the T-shirt. I trained so hard for it with the help of my personal trainer at the gym, but obviously the competition level was higher than we had expected,” he said. Garatli has resolved to participate in the event again next year, noting, “This experience has been nothing but an enriching experience and I have gained a lot of awesome friends. “I can’t seem to find the right words to express my passion toward the fire service. My motivation and continuous encouragement from my superiors have driven me to achieve great things, most important of which is the two-year scholarship program I’m currently doing in the United States,” added Garatli. Thousands of miles away in Dhahran, Garatli’s efforts have drawn praise from the young firefighter’s management. Ali A. Mokhtar, manager of Fire Protection at the FrPD, said that Garatli demonstrated his passion for his job, his company, and his nation. “Amer is one of our young firemen who show high interest and passion in his profession as a firefighter,” Mokhtar said. “Since he joined the department, he has demonstrated excellent skill in learning and leadership. Immediately after his graduation from FrPD line specific training, Amer was nominated to be an assistant instructor at our Advanced Fire Training Center (AFTC) in Ju’aymah. “He turned out to be one of our best instructors at AFTC, and based on his excellent performance as an instructor, he was nominated for Associate Degree Program in Fire Protection in the U.S. I’m not really surprised to see him participate in such an event because he always looks for challenges and loves to challenge himself,” Mokhtar said.