History of Stair Climbs
The first known 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb event occurred on September 11, 2003 during "Operation Enduring Freedom" in Parwan Province, Afghanistan. Albuquerque Fire Department Lieutenant Charles Cogburn scaled a two story building 55 times wearing body armor, a helmet and an M-4. Lt Cogburn returned home and on the following September 11th (2004) the climb was brought back to Albuquerque and given the title Albuquerque Firefighters Memorial Stair Climb. Firefighters from Engine 5 and Engine 2 were dispatched at 8:46am (the time the initial dispatch of FDNY units occurred) to the Bank of Albuquerque Building in downtown Albuquerque. The building is 22 stories tall and it was climbed 5 times.
On September 11, 2005, five Colorado firefighters (who had already been climbing stairs together for fitness and camaraderie) gathered in downtown Denver to climb 110 flights of stairs in all their gear in memory of their FDNY (Fire Department of New York) brothers who were killed four years earlier.
The following year, organizers of the second Denver 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb changed their venue and attendance grew to twelve participants representing four fire departments from the metro Denver area. As word spread so did interest and the event expanded. In 2007, attendance reached several hundred participants, representing every part of Colorado. The following year, participation was capped at 343, the number of FDNY members who were killed on 9/11. The 2008 event also included a new remembrance component: each climber was assigned a badge, with the name and photograph of one of the fallen firefighters of 9/11, symbolically completing the climb with one who couldn’t.
In 2010 founders of the Denver 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb partnered with the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation (NFFF) to set forth the national standard protocol for future 9/11 Memorial Stair Climbs. The very first NFFF climb was theNashville 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb on September 11, 2010. Event organizers from Denver and Tennessee worked together with the NFFF to hold the first 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb event at a national fire conference at the 2011 Fire Departments Instructor Conference in Indianapolis, IN.
On September 11, 2011 fifty-five 9/11 Memorial Stair Climbs occurred across the world (at least three were outside the US and held in Paris, London; Auckland, New Zealand; and Sydney, Australia).
Dallas Stair Climb History
On March 25th, 2011, Plano (TX) Firefighter John Barrett participated in the first 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb hosted by the NFFF at the First Departments Instructor Conference held in Indianapolis, IN. The following Monday, the first planning meeting was held for the inaugural Dallas 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb. The inaugural event recognized not only the 343 fallen firefighters of September 11th, but also the six Texas firefighters who died in the line of duty in 2011. Altogether, more than 360 firefighters from four states and eighty-nine fire departments participated in the event, raising almost $160,000 to support the families of fallen firefighters. One hundred sixty (160) volunteers and approximately 1,500 guests supported the firefighters making the climb. By all accounts, the first year's event was a success. In 2012, Prosper Fire Department provided a piece of WTC steel which was displayed and touched by each climber before he/she began the journey up 110 flights. An outdoor area was added to provide activities for attendees who were not climbing.
Following the 2012 climb, the planning committee was restructured in order to better divide and manage responsibilities and efforts and to aid in the decision making process. In 2013, the steering committee decided to add law enforcement representation by recognizing the seventy (70) law enforcement officers killed at Ground Zero. In 2014, the committee decided to add representation for the nine (9) EMS personnel lost at Ground Zero on September 11th. Also in 2014, the event finally realized success in its efforts to hold a post-event gathering aptly titled the "Brotherhood Bash." In 2015, the climb added a second wave of climbers to represent fallen first repsonders who have passed since 9/11/2001. Each year, the event seeks to find additional ways to remember to Step Up To Honor The Fallen.