In 2013 I was fortunate enough to make the trek to Indianapolis to take part in the 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb at the world's largest firefighter conference, FDIC. This event, and others like it, honor the memory of the 343 firefighters that were lost on 9/11, while also supporting the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation. Climbing 110 stories, carrying a photo and biography of a firefighter that was lost on 9/11, this event is not a race. The stair climb is an opportunity to remember the 343 New York firefighters who selflessly gave their lives so that others may live.
Surrounded by fellow firefighters from around the world, there are no words to describe the range of emotions I experienced during the climb. An exempliary act of courage and bravery, many firefighters climbed an 30+ stories, some climbing even more, to reach the 78th floor before they started helping the injured and extinguishing fires.
In 2013 I climbed in honor of William E. Krukowski of Ladder 21, and will do so again this year. From FireHero.org:
“...Bill was a member of the NYC Fire Department for three years. He was referred to as Super Probie at his Ladder Company 21. He rode to work on his bicycle to and from his home in Bayside to NYC-17 miles. He was happy and so proud to be a firefighter and helping people was his great joy. Bill's grandad was a fireman for 25 years and Bill grew up admiring his heroism.
Bill was a man's man as the expression goes. But his sister, Ginny, and I know him as a loving, strong and gentleman. He simply loved and cared deeply for his son Billy Lee-age 11. The would go go-carting, ball playing, build a tree house, hike and go tubing, as well as run with Puller, Big Bill's 8 year old Rottweiler. In fact, Bill made a cart so Puller could give rides to the children in the neighborhood.”
Proceeds benefit the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation who help survivors of fallen firefighters. You can support the NFFF as a climber, volunteer, and through many other events.
Alex Zielinski is a volunteer firefighter in Evansville, Indiana and a full-time firefighter in Providence, Kentucky. You can follow him on Twitter @FireSafetyAZ If you enjoyed this article leave a comment or click subscribe above to receive notification of future stories. Read a previous Fire Safety article: Your fire department, your most underutilized resource