By TRAVIS MORSE firstname.lastname@example.org
---- — MT. VERNON – To Mt. Vernon firefighter Brad Baum, the Nashville 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb offers a chance to reflect on the hardships faced by those firefighters who responded to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
The challenging climb replicates the experience firefighters had that day in New York, ascending the 110 stories of the Twin Towers to fight fire and rescue victims.
“It's a great way to remember the fallen firefighters,” said Baum, a seven-year veteran of the Mt. Vernon Fire Department. “It gives us a chance to reflect, to kind of see what they went through that day, just climbing that many stories in full gear and everything. I mean, it's excruciating. It's really tough to do.”
Baum was one of three local firefighters to participate in the memorial climb, which was held Sunday at the William R. Snodgrass Tennessee Tower in Nashville, Tenn. The other two local firefighters were Braden Mueller and Travis Zimmer.
As part of the annual event, 343 firefighters climb 110 stories in full gear to honor the 343 FDNY firefighters who perished on 9/11.
Each participant climbs with 60 to 80 pounds of gear and a badge bearing the name and photograph of a fallen firefighter. The climb itself takes over two hours to complete.
“It's just to never forget the fallen, the first responders,” Mueller said. “And to remember that even though it was (12) years ago, some of these children of the firefighters and responders that passed away are just now growing up and realizing what happened. They're old enough to understand.”
Firefighters who take part in the memorial climb pay an entry fee. This money goes toward the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation, which helps support the family members of fallen firefighters.
The climb is in its fourth year and has so far raised over $200,000 for the foundation, Mueller said.
Climb participants are grouped into teams of seven. Each team climbs the William R. Snodgrass Tennessee Tower four times to complete the 110 stories.
“It drives home the fact that not only did they have to climb those 110 stories, but they had to do rescues and they had to fight fire and they had to do a lot of stuff after that,” Mueller said.
To Zimmer, the importance of the climb can be summed up in one simple phrase – “we climb because they can't.”
“I think it's just nice to see all of us get together and commemorate what those guys did for us,” Zimmer said.