Local firefighters climbing lookout tower in honour of lost 9/11 firefighters

By Ken Kellar
Staff writer

September 11, 2021 marks the twentieth anniversary of one of the most devastating terrorist attacks to occur on U.S. soil, and local firefighters and other emergency personnel are gearing up to honour their brothers-in-arms who lost their lives in the line of duty on that historic day.

To date, the 9/11 attacks on New York’s twin World Trade Center towers are the single most deadly incident for firefighters in U.S. history, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). The attacks claimed the lives of 343 FDNY members: 340 firefighters, two paramedics and a chaplain. The next most deadly incident was the Great Fire of 1910, which saw 78 firefighters die battling a blaze that raged across Idaho, Montana, Washington state and British Columbia.

In recognition of the lives of FDNY firefighters and other first responders lost that day, members of the Fort Frances Fire Rescue will take to the stairs of the Fort Frances lookout tower on Saturday, September 11, 2021, at 2:00 p.m. to hold their 9/11 Stair Climb Memorial. According to information sent to the Times by Brad Townson, local paramedics and police officers might also be participating in the memorial stair climb. The public is invited to show their support by heading down to the waterfront to watch.

Local firefighters and other professionals who choose to take part will climb the lookout tower 14 times, amounting to the equivalent height of the World Trade Center towers.

Fort Frances fire chief Tyler Moffit said the memorial is a chance for the public to recognize and remember the thousands of people who died in the 9/11 attacks, and for firefighters to honour their own.

“No day has greater significance to the fire service than 9/11, when 343 FDNY firefighters died in the line of duty – a single day that forever changed the fire service, and the world,” Moffit said.

“Fire Services around the country – and countless other organizations and businesses – will commemorate the milestone anniversary through special events and activities.”

Moffit added the memorials are also in honour of the continuing impacts of the attacks. Many FDNY members who survived that day have battled with lingering and extensive health problems as a result of the dangerous and toxic conditions they were working in. Meanwhile, some of those who lost a parent in the attacks have grown up to honour their memories by following in their footsteps.

“65 FDNY members have followed in their 9/11 fallen firefighters fathers’ FDNY path of service,” Moffit said.

“Sixty-five current members of the FDNY lost their FDNY fathers on September 11, 2001, attacks, or watched them die of diseases caused by the toxic smoke and debris at Ground Zero.”

In the aftermath of the New York attacks, hundreds of firefighters from across the U.S. and Canada travelled to the city to help with rescue and recovery efforts. Meanwhile, as flights were cancelled or rerouted across the world, many passengers wound up diverted from their final destinations and stopping in unexpected places. The small airport in Gander, Newfoundland most famously received more than 6,500 in the immediate aftermath of the attacks, an event that has been memorialized in the Tony Award-winning musical “Come From Away.”

To pay his respects on the twentieth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, U.S. President Joe Biden will be making stops at each of the three attack sites; Ground Zero in New York City, the Pentagon and Shanksville, Penn., located less than 3km south of where United Airlines Flight 93 crashed.

According to reporting from the CBC, Gander is also planning an anniversary service for the attacks’ twentieth anniversary.