Big Country first responders remember 9/11


ABILENE, Texas (KRBC) - Our very own first responders honoring the men and women killed in the September 11th attacks, each in their own way.

This weekend, four Abilene fire fighters and one Cisco fire fighter participated in the September 11th Stair Climb at Reniassance Tower in Dallas, remembering 9/11's fallen first responders.

Complete strangers coming together to do one task.

"Bonding for sure. Just being able to push one another up the stairs," Abilene fire fighter Bryce Channell said.

More than 500 first repsonders remembered those who died on September 11th, 2001, climbing 110 flights of stairs, symbolizing each floor of the twin towers.

"Our coats, our helmets, pants and boots and also an airpack on our back," Channell said.

The first 343 firefighters who signed up, represented a fire fighter who went into the World Trade Centers and died trying to save a life.

"My firefighter was Daniel Harlin. He was part of Ladder 2 Company for Fire Department New York," Channell said. "When we reached the top, we put his name on a board just to signify that we carried him all the way to the top since he wasn't able to on that day."

Channell said he spent months training for the climb.

"It seemed like no matter how much you trained, it still. still knocked you down. It was very, a very hard task but when you thought about quitting, you remembered why you were doing it and that's what carried me on," Channell said. "Just to pay my part in rememberance of those victims. I was 12 years old when the attacks happened. I was in sixth grade math class so being able to remember it in a way now, to show, it was just special for me."

Division Chief of EMS and training, Derek Briggs said 16 years later, the emotions of that day still weigh heavy.

"It's very tasking; both emotionally and physically but it's also very rewarding," Chief Briggs said. "This year, I carried Lieutenant Harvy Harell from Rescue 5 to the top."

Briggs said this is his fourth 9-11 climb in Dallas. Each year serves as his tribute to those who passed away.

"It's very gratifying, very challenging but 16 years ago, we all promised to never forget, so this is my way of making sure that we don't," Chief said.

Chief Briggs' son is a career fire fighter in Bryan, Texas. Next year, he said they plan to sign up together.

Another fire fighter in the Big Country honoring the fallen on 9/11 was Merkel fire fighter Kris Hester. He continued his tradition of standing outside with his full gear and bunker, Monday.

He observed 343 minutes of silence by standing in front of the flag pole at Merkel City Hall, which symbolized the 343 fire fighters, along with the 70 police officers and 9 EMTs who were killed on 9/11.

Hester said he does this because we have a lot of individuals who selflessly give their lives to help others.

"It doesn't matter if i know you or not. If you do the same job that we do, we understand the stresses ancd challenges that you go through. so we consider you a brother and what we're doing is just showing some support to the brothers that we lost 16 years ago," Hester said.

He started around 1 p.m. and finished a little after 6 p.m.

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