On Sept. 11, 2001, firefighters with the New York City Fire Department responded to the World Trade Center after American Airlines Flight 11 and United Airlines Flight 175 crashed into its Twin Towers.
Twenty-two years later, at 8:46 a.m. on Monday, Sept. 11, a group of 11 Ormond Beach Beach firefighters gathered at the lobby of the Marina Grande on the Halifax condominiums, preparing to climb 110 flights of stairs, while wearing their heavy gear, in memory of the 343 firefighters and the 2,996 people who died in the terrorist attack.
"Three-hundred-and-forty-three of our guys went up there, knowing they may not be coming back," OBFD Driver Engineer Hunter Ramirez said. "That's probably the hardest thing to think about, even for us. None of us have ever been in that situation, and hopefully we never have to be in that situation."
Ramirez organized the first stair climb for the department in 2019. This year's challenge was taken on by members of the Ormond Beach Professional Firefighters union.
Union President and Ormond Beach Fire Capt. David Randall said knowing the sacrifices made by the firefighters on 9/11 is what drove them to hold the stair climb in their honor.
"A lot of people out there still have their fathers and mothers and children because of the sacrifices those men and women made," Randall said. "It's an honor to be associated with them in any way, and we do this to honor them."
The gear the firefighters carried during their climb weighed over 50 pounds. They went up the stairs to the 25th floor four times, plus a fifth climb to the 10th floor, to total the number of flights of stairs in each of the Twin Towers. Each of the firefighters also carried a small photos of fallen 9/11 firefighters.
This is the bare minimum they can do to honor them, said Driver Engineer Denton Sawyer. He held up a photo of 37-year-old FDNY Firefighter Kevin Bracken.
"We essentially call upon the strength that they had to do it," Sawyer said. "... They kept going so we've got to keep going."