On September 11th, 2001, the lives of 343 firefighters were lost in the line of duty. Since then, other firefighters routinely participate in traditions meant to honor the sacrifice of those brave heroes.
These traditions occur all over the country, and vary from place to place. However, one of the more common forms involves climbing 110 flights of stairs, wearing full firefighting gear.
This endeavor is meant to simulate the climb made by responders shortly after the horrific attacks shattered a peaceful morning in Lower Manhattan.
There are not many 110 story buildings, so the participating firefighters get creative.
In 2018, a viral video showed firefighters in full gear at a local gym, performing the climb on a StairMaster. The tradition normally begins at 8:46am, to coincide with the first tower being struck.
Last year, St Joseph, Missouri, firefighters feared they wouldn’t be able to participate in the tradition, because of the restrictions at the time. However, they took to the athletics field at a local highschool. They climbed the bleachers 39 times in full gear to complete their yearly ritual.
First responders, and civilians alike, have participated in some form of this all over the country, featuring various symbolism and ceremony.
In 2003, an Albuquerque fire department Lieutenant deployed to Afghanistan, climbed a two-story building 55 times in full combat gear.
After Lt. Charles Cogburn returned home, his department dispatched two engines to downtown Albuquerque. They climbed a 22 story building, 5 times, in full firefighting kit on September 11th, 2004 in solidarity.
The National Fallen Firefighters Foundation has stated the first stair climb in support of their organization occurred in 2005. Downtown Denver served as the location where 5 firefighters met to honor and remember the sacrifices of the New York Fire Department.
Since then, the act of remembrance has massively grown in participation. Reach out to your local fire department to see what traditions they may have to honor fallen comrades, and how you can support them.