CITRUS HEIGHTS, Calif. (KTXL) – It’s a day all Americans pause to remember, but for firefighters, the events that unfolded 20 years ago on Sept. 11 hit especially close to home.
For years, hundreds of fire departments around Northern California have come together in Sacramento to climb 110 flights of stairs for 9/11, marking and honoring the firefighters who lost their lives on that day. But for the past two years, the event has been canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“So we’re making that happen on our own,” explained Sacramento Metropolitan Fire Capt. Parker Wilbourn.
Metro Fire took matters into their own hands this year and held a stair climb at their station in Citrus Heights.
Using two training towers, 20 recruits in the fire academy climbed 110 flights of stairs representing the 110 stories in the World Trade Center. They climbed for roughly an hour and a half straight in full fire gear.
“On Sept 11, those firefighters from FDNY, they were wearing full gear, plus an SCBA, plus hose packs,” Wilbourn explained. “So this is all just to commemorate the fallen.”
Not only were they honoring the firefighters who lost their lives 20 years ago but also understanding the sacrifice every firefighter makes when they are sworn in.
“On that day, you had 343 firefighters that climbed to their death and many of them knew what they were doing when they were making that climb. There’s reports that they were giving each other hugs. They knew they weren’t going home that day,” Wilbourn said. “That level of sacrifice needs to be memorialized and Sacramento Metro Fire takes pride in that. We will never forget.”
They’re hopeful that by this time next year the traditional stair climb in downtown Sacramento will be able to happen again.
“I think everybody just wants life to go back to normal. We do, too,” Wilbourn told FOX40. “The stair climb would be a phenomenal thing to bring back.”
Some of the recruits who took part in Friday morning’s stair climb were too young to remember the attacks on 9/11. Fire officials said as younger generations become firefighters, it’s even more important to hold memorial events like the stair climb.