Eagle County firefighters climb stairs to honor 9/11 victims
September 10, 2008
EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado ” In honor of the firefighters who died in the Sept. 11 attacks, 343 firefighters from around Colorado will participate in the fourth annual Denver Metro Firefighters 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb.
Firefighters Nick Kokias, AJ Riemenschneider, Richard Romsdahl and Joe Jenkins will represent the members of Eagle River Professional Firefighters Local 4245 and the Eagle River Fire Protection District in the event, which also will raise money for the Denver Burn Foundation.
In teams of four, all 343 firefighters will climb the 55-story Qwest high rise at 1801 California St. in downtown Denver twice. They will first climb the high rise wearing all of their firefighting gear and carrying tools. Once at the top, they will drop their tools, ride a freight elevator to the bottom and climb it again. The second time they will climb it still wearing all of their firefighting gear and also breathing the air from their air bottles on their backs.
“The purpose of doing the event in that particular order is to most closely simulate the strain FDNY firefighters felt while climbing the World Trade Center on that fateful day,” Kokias said. “The four of us are not sure what to expect or if we can even complete it as planned, however, we felt we could not pass up this opportunity to honor the 343 firefighters killed that day.”
In all, the firefighters will carry an average of around 60 pounds for the entire event.
When it is time to start breathing air from their masks, Kokias said, the four local firefighters will begin to know the pain and anguish the firefighters of 9/11 may have felt.
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“None of us can begin to describe what they may have been feeling or thinking that morning inside the Twin Towers,” Kokias said. “However, this event will allow us to pay tribute appropriately.”