It’s been 18 years since the World Trade Centre towers came down Sept. 11, 2001.
Each year, people all over the world commemorate the victims and emergency responders who lost their lives during the co-ordinated terrorist attack in New York.
In Kelowna, firefighters from across Okanagan participated in the second annual 9/11 Stair Climb at the Landmark 6 building, hosted by the Kelowna Professional Firefighters Charitable Society.
The former World Trade Centre towers were 110 storeys. In order to emulate what New York firefighters experienced that day, local firefighters climbed the 17-storey Landmark building six times.
Each firefighter who joined in this year’s stair climb donated a minimum of $20, along with wearing their full turnout gear during their stair climb. The donations collected from Wednesday’s event in Kelowna go to the Wounded Warriors Canada Foundation, helping support injured emergency personnel and their families.
Participating firefighters were required to wear their full on equipped gear while they climbed the 17 storeys at Landmark 6. The gear typically weighs 30 to 45 pounds extra. #NeverForget #YLW @KelownaCapNews pic.twitter.com/aYZBdfRLkb
— Natalia Cuevas-Huaico (@natcuevashuaico) September 11, 2019
Glenn Paley, training officer with Kelowna Fire Department, facilitated the Landmark event with the hope it will become a fire department tradition.
“This is to honour the 343 New York firefighters who unfortunately perished on Sept. 11, 2001,” he said. “Not to mention the 1,400-plus emergency responders that have passed since that day due to the medical problems caused by digging through the rubble.”
He said he was proud to see more than 20 firefighters from across the Okanagan participate.
“There’s not one of us here who wouldn’t have done what those firefighters did that day. You know you go to work to help the best you can and just do your job,” Paley said.
Jon Christian, a Kelowna firefighter who participated in the stair climb, said that thinking about those lost 18 years ago helped him push through the last few storeys up Landmark 6, which he described as very hot, uncomfortable and exhausting.
“It’s about remembering those people who had to climb the towers and do their job when it actually mattered,” he said.
He said 9/11 will never lose its significance for first responders.