Stair climbers

Chanute firefighters, left to right, Cameron Dietsch, Remington Wagner and driver-operator Jacob Nasalroad took part in a stair climb at Kansas’ tallest building Saturday in tribute to the firefighters who climbed the stairs to battle the fires in the World Trade Center towers on Sept. 11, 2001.

GREG LOWER

Three Chanute firefighters paid tribute Saturday to victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks by simulating a climb to the top of the World Trade Center twin towers.

Firefighters Jacob Nasalroad, Cameron Dietsch and Remington Wagner took part in the stair climb Saturday at the Epic Center in Wichita. Hundreds of firefighters from many communities in Kansas took part to remember the 343 firefighters killed when the two skyscrapers collapsed after being struck by hijacked jet airliners.

This was the fifth annual stair climb in Wichita to remember the attack. This was the second climb for Nasalroad, and the first for Dietsch and Wagner.

“These guys made the ultimate sacrifice,” Nasalroad said.

When built, the World Trade Center towers were the tallest buildings in the world at 110 floors. The Epic Center is the tallest building in Kansas, just 22 floors and 385 feet tall. The Tioga is Chanute’s tallest at only six stories. 

Those making the climb wore full gear, 

which Nasalroad said weighs 75 pounds, the same way New York firefighters had to climb stairs to battle the fires. To simulate climbing the 110 floors of the twin towers, participants made five trips climbing to the Epic Center’s 20th floor, going down by elevator, and making a final trip to the 10th floor.

Each climber carried the name of one of the firefighters who died. A steel beam from the World Trade Center was at the Epic Center and each climber touched it when they completed the 1 ½-hour course.

Wagner said he climbed for New York firefighter Jonathan R. Hohmann, 48, a member of Haz Mat 1.

“It’s definitely not easy,” he said, noting that it was only right to honor the victims. “They risked their lives for other people.”

Dietsch said he was two years old on the day of the attacks.

“It’s a huge thing in history,” he said. “That’s the least we could do to remember them.”

He climbed for firefighter Girard Nevins, 46, of Rescue 1. Nasalroad climbed for Dennis P. O’Berg, 28, of Ladder Company 105.

On the day of the attacks, firefighters reached as far as the 78th floor of the south tower before it collapsed 56 minutes after impact.

FDNY Battalion Chief Orio Joseph Palmer took an elevator to the 41st floor sky lobby then ran up 37 flights. Fire Marshal Ronald Paul Bucca and Palmer were the only first responders to reach the impact zone.

The department later created a fitness medal to honor Palmer, who was a marathon runner.

Proceeds from registration fees and sponsors of the stair climb go to the FDNY Fire Family Transport Foundation, which is assisting more than 900 FDNY firefighters battling 9/11-related illnesses. Since the attack, more than 200 firefighters have died from illnesses related to that day’s events.

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