They Climb for America

They Climb for America

(Sept. 7, 2019) Five members of Fairview Fire Rescue (FFR) and three members of Lucas Fire Rescue (LFR) participated in the 9th Annual 9/11 Dallas Memorial Stair Climb which was held at Renaissance Tower in Dallas. “The climb is not a race and not focused on raising money. It is a remembrance and commemoration of the sacrifices of the 343 firefighters, 70 law enforcement officers and 9 EMS workers who perished at the World Trade Center.” (dallasstairclimb.com) Each climber muscled through 110 flights of stairs in order to honor first responders who lost their lives during the terrorist attack on Sept. 11, 2001.

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FFR Captain Nathan White has been a firefighter for 13 years, all of which have been with FFR. This was his third time to participate in the Dallas climb. He said he participates in the memorial event, “As a memorial to the event and those in our industry that lost their lives.” Regarding the most emotionally moving part of this event, White said, “There were pictures of the lost firefighters posted throughout the stairwell. One couldn’t help but thinking of their families who are still dealing with the loss.” While climbing 110 flights of stairs, White explained his thoughts, “For the most part I think people try to imagine themselves in that situation. Which would be difficult knowing the inherent dangers of what you are about to do, but also knowing you don’t have a choice because it is what you expect of yourself in those situations.” He described what his body was experiencing during this physically taxing act and why quitting was not an option, “It is difficult. The heat generated and retained by your gear, etc. makes it difficult for your body to adapt to what you are doing. Because of this, you feel drained fairly quickly. However, the environment and those around you does not allow you to think about quitting.” He hopes that the families of the fallen first responders find these actions meaningful and, “know that others are trying to honor the memory of their loved ones.” He trained for this event by climbing stairs in his gear. He explained the like-mindedness of the participants, “I appreciate that so many want to attend. The registration fills up very quickly. As a firefighter, you know that others care about what happened that day, but specifically how it affected firefighters everywhere.” He said he will participate in this event in the future.

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LFR Firefighter/Paramedic Ian Evans has been a firefighter for eight years, seven of those have been with LFR. He has participated in the Dallas climb for four years. He said he enjoys the challenge and the brotherhood of the event. He said, “The event is still a memorial, but it is a wonderful way to be reminded of their sacrifice and honor them.” He described one of the emotional elements of the event, “At the beginning of the stair climb, the group of climbers touch a large piece of the Twin Towers which is on a trailer. After which, we are led to the Renaissance Tower to begin the climb and are met with bag pipers and drummers which is amplified in the lobby.” He reports that during the climb, he thinks about the people who made the actual climb on 9/11 and their bravery. While climbing, he wonders how he will finish climbing the 110 flights of stairs and he describes his legs as getting slower and slower. Each year there are family members of the fallen first responders at this event. He said, “…they always seem to be smiling and supportive. I hope it is because their love ones aren't forgotten.” He practices for this event by doing a few practice climbs in a parking garage with an elevator, “I don't like the process of going down the stairs as it puts a weird strain on my legs.” During this event, when he is surrounded by firefighters from across the state, and beyond, he said, “I find it reminds me of the family I have in every city and gives me hope that we've grown closer as a profession because of this loss.” Each year he climbs to honor the same firefighter. He plans on climbing another eight years because his age will equal the age of the firefighter he honors when that firefighter died on 9/11.

“It is a great honor to have five members of Fairview participate in the stair climb to honor those that died on 9/11.  All of these members are on the same shift, so they work day in and day out together,” said FFR Chief Jeff Bell. Chief Bell plans on participating in the stair climb in the future as well as encouraging as many Fairview participants as possible. He said, “It is a great team building experience to see all the firefighters and police officers give their 100% effort to make that climb. I was there to support Fairview initially, but as I met and talked to so many others from all the departments, I couldn’t help but to give them praise as well.” One of the FFR participants, Kyle Rowland, met a relative of the person he was representing. “That man volunteers every year at this event and was extremely pleased to meet Kyle. You could see in Kyle’s face he was so proud when he completed the climb to be able to hug him,” said Chief Bell.

LFR Chief Ted Stephens said, “The nation’s motto for 9/11 is Never Forget. Easy words to say, or type, or text, but hard words to live by. The firefighters, and other first responders who participate in a stair climb, are today’s heroes that will never forget. Their legs go numb, their back stresses, their body’s hurt. But step by step, they make the climb to honor those we lost on that tragic day. And they don’t just climb for fallen first responders. They climb for America, for that day, as we all lost someone in some way. It does this chief’s heart good to see our guys doing what they do every day, but these guys really go above and beyond to honor what I hope is never a faded memory.”

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