The first 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 the following September 11th (2004), the climb was brought back to Albuquerque and given the title Albuquerque Firefighters Memorial Stair Climb. To Honor and Remember the 343 Firefighters from FDNY who were lost. Firefighters from AFD Engine 5 and Engine 2 were dispatched from the AFD Dispatch Center at 8:46am (the time the initial dispatch of FDNY units occured) to the Bank of Albuquerque Building in downtown Albuquerque New Mexico. The building is 22 stories tall and it was climbed 5 times (Up and Down). Representing the 110 stories of the World Trade Center. The climb was accomplished wearing full firefighting gear and the carrying of firefighting tools that were used that day.
As word spread so did interest and the event expanded. In 2005 Firefighters from Denver convened in dowtown Denver to complete the Climb, and in 2008 the Denver climb reached several hundred participants, representing every part of Colorado. Participation was capped at 343 in 2009, the number of FDNY firefighters who were killed on 9/11, it 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.
Since than many Fire Departments have used the climb to raise money for Burn Units in local hospitals, for the fallen in their own Departments and many other charities. In 2010 the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation (NFFF) became involved with the raising of awareness for those lost and the raising of funds for their foundation. Most choose however to Remember and Honor by climbing for the 343 in their own way and reflection.
On September 11, 2012 eighty seven 9/11 Firefighter Memorial Stair Climbs occurred in thirty six States and was also commererated in cities in including Australia, Canada, France, Great Britain, Ireland, Japan, Kuwait and New Zealand.
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