LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - This year will mark 18 years since the September 11th attacks on the United States. Lubbock area firefighters are ensuring their brothers who fell on that day are not forgotten.
At least 11 Woodrow and West Carlisle firefighters will attend the Dallas climb to scale the 55-story Renaissance Tower twice in full bunker gear, carrying with them the memory of a fellow firefighter who died in the collapse of the 110-story World Trade Center buildings.
“There’s lots of sweat,” Woodrow Chief Wesley Boone said. “You wear full bunker gear plus your air pack. It’s probably 60 pounds. It’s not to prove that you can do it. There’s that drive behind you for those guys from FDNY, those 343 that died that day.”
This will be Chief Boone’s sixth year to attend the climb. He says it’s a moving experience hearing bagpipes playing Amazing Grace or meeting the New York firefighters who survived and worked at Ground Zero.
Boone met FDNY member Ray Pfeifer on his first climb. He tells KCBD Pfeifer was headed home when he heard the plane crash on his radio. He returned to work and helped retrieve firemen out of the rubble.
“He died two years ago of renal cancer from working on that pile,” Boone said. “Meeting him was quite the experience. The second year I was down there, he knew how old I was, and he was like, ‘You’re like the oldest guy here.’ He said, ‘Why do you keep doing this?’ I said, ‘Ray, I’m going to keep doing this as long as you’re here.’ I’m still doing it and he’s not there. But, it’s just meeting him and those other guys, it’s an honor. It really is.”
West Carlisle Chief Tim Smith is making his first trip to the Memorial Climb. He said he looks forward to meeting, and thanking, those New York firefighters.
“I hope I leave with a better understanding of what they went through,” Chief Smith said. “I want to visit with some of the firefighters down there that were actually on the pile, on the rubble digging their brothers out. I just want to tell them, ‘Thanks.’”
Smith says he is climbing because his brothers in New York didn’t have a choice.
“I know many of them knew it would be their last call,” Smith said. “Hopefully, the outcome would have been different but many of them knew. For them to run in [the tower] while the rest ran out, it’s moving. It truly is. That’s kind of what I think about as we near the top is what was going through their mind as they neared the top.”
The local firefighters have trained for the climb on bleachers, at stairwells at Reese Center, LFR and the Metro Tower in downtown Lubbock. Smith hopes this experience will make the Lubbock County firefighter bond even stronger.
For more information on the Dallas 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb, click here.