PCB Fire Rescue Hosts Memorial Stair Climb - WMBB News 13 - The Panhandle's News Leader

PCB Fire Rescue Hosts Memorial Stair Climb

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September 11th, 2001 is a day in the history books that many Americans will never forget.

Twelve years later, hundreds in Panama City Beach took the time to honor the first responders who lost their lives in that tragedy.

Wearing full gear and carrying heavy tools, many firefighters, first responders, and volunteers took a trek up 22 flights of stairs, five times in a row. All of this, equivalent to what firefighters and police had to do during 9-11.

"On that day, that's what FDNY had to do," said Lt. Terry Paris, Panama City Beach Fire Department. They knew the towers were on fire, they knew people we trapped inside.. some were injured some were dying. They knew the outcome and they didn't hesitate, because that's our job."

Conditions in the stairwell were hot, but people who took the trek said it well worth it.

"It's hot, but when you are working that's the way it is," said Battalion Chief Larry Leonard, Panama City Fire Department. "The gear and the stuff we have to wear, it's hot and it's heavy, but it's just something we do."

"It was pretty muggy in the steps," said Lt. David Bullard, Columbia County(Georgia) Fire Rescue.

"The sacrifice is worth it, you reach your goals one step at a time and that was a good reminder of that."

This is the third year for the event in Panama City Beach.

"Last year we had 286 climbers and we raised over 12 thousand dollars. This year, we had 353 climbers and raised 15.5 thousand dollars. With extra donations from the community and people who came to watch it took us to 17 thousand dollars," said Paris.

The proceeds go to the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation. First responders traveled from many states to take part in the event.

"For them to make a special trip down here to take a part and to make a tribute, that's what it's all about, we are a family," said Paris.

Emotions were running high.

"I have been retired for a while and its bring you back like you are back on shift again," said Former Panama City Fire Chief Bobby Richardson, Sr. "Same guys, different ages, different faces, but all great young men."

"The emotions are over flowing, I can't really describe the feeling that I have. There is a tremendous amount of support," said Paris. "Not only from our military that was here, law enforcement, fire, but the civilians as well.". 

They are set to hold the event again next year on the first Saturday in September.