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TN Firefighters Honoring 9/11 in 343 Memorial Climb

The Tennesseean via YellowBrix

September 09, 2010

GATTATIN, TN – Seven members of the Gallatin Fire Department will lead 343 firefighters during a Sept. 11 memorial climb Saturday inside a Nashville skyscraper.

Firefighters will be assigned to represent the names of the 343 firefighters who were killed when the Twin Towers collapsed.

Fire personnel from nine states, including New York, will participate in the climb at The Pinnacle at Symphony Place building in downtown Nashville. The high-rise is only 30 stories, so firefighter personnel will have to climb it 3.5 times to experience the 110-floor ascent that New York firefighters underwent before the towers collapsed on Sept. 11, 2001.

“They’ve been training about a month now, in this 100-degree weather, climbing steps at the parking garage at the hospital,” said Gallatin Fire Department Assistant Chief Tommy Dale. “Eagerness to participate got us in the first slot to make the climb.”

Event coordinator Josh Smith, a firefighter at the Smyrna Fire Department, confirmed that the Gallatin team would be the first to begin the ascent Saturday.

“Gallatin had their guys registered first thing in the morning July 1, when registration opened,” Smith said. “After Gallatin, the order was chosen at random.”

One hundred percent of registration fees will go to the National Fallen Firefighter Foundation, a nonprofit organization based in Maryland that was created by Congress to honor firefighters who have died in the line of duty.

Firefighter Mario Mendoza said the fundraising aspect of the climb was an important motivation in his decision to join the team and spend his days off climbing up and down the six-floor parking garage at Sumner Regional Medical Center with an air pack and full turnout gear.

“And of course we’re paying our respect to the firefighters who died on (Sept. 11),” Mendoza said.

The Number One Volunteer Fire Department is also sending a five- or six-member team to participate, Chief Jason Erlewine said.

This year’s event is a first for Nashville and is modeled after the annual 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb started in Denver, Colo., in 2005.

The participating Gallatin fire personnel are Capt. Mark Hall, Engineer Charlie Johnson, Engineer Jason Parks, Firefighter Rob Delorne, Firefighter Matt Robison, Firefighter Mario Mendoza and Firefighter Rich Goddard.

The climb begins at 9 a.m. on Saturday. A commemorative ceremony and a moment of silence will be held prior to the event.


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