Enquirer Herald

Firefighters climb 110 stories to remember the fallen

York resident Zach Dover climbs the stairs at high-rises in Charlotte for work all the time.

Sunday morning, it was personal.

He and his fellow firefighters often run flights stairs for practice and to stay in shape. But climbing 110 flights of stairs wasn't part of his training.

Dover was one of more than 400 men and women to run 110-stories at the Duke Energy building in their full gear -- boots, helmets, air packs, axes, and those heavy fire-retardant coats -- to honor and remember the first-responders to the World Trade Center who lost their lives 10 years ago on the Sept. 11, 2001.

“It was an awesome climb,” Dover said. “The big thing for me was just honoring the guys who died. Their names we wore around our necks. Making sure we got to the top for them, although they never got to come back down.

“It was tough, and we had to push each other. But that's what firefighters do.”

He wore the name “Michael J. Otten” a New York firefighter from Ladder Company 35. Otten, who left behind a wife and three young boys, died in Tower Two of the World Trade Center. He was a third generation firefighter who worked for the department 16 years.

Across the nation, dozens of stair climbs, planned National Fallen Firefighters Foundation as a fundraiser and tribute to those who died, were held. In Charlotte, agencies from both Carolinas participated. The climb remembers the 343 firefighters, 60 police officers and 8 paramedics who died after charging up the stairs in the World Trade Center buildings.