Price Family Properties | Oklahoma firefighters climb 110 floors in honor of emergency responders killed on 9/11
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Oklahoma firefighters climb 110 floors in honor of emergency responders killed on 9/11

Oklahoma firefighters climb 110 floors in honor of emergency responders killed on 9/11

A Tulsa firefighter affixed name tags representing two New York City firefighters to the underside of his helmet and climbed the height of the World Trade Center.

 

Those symbols, known as accountability tags, are normally given to the supervising fire chief and attached to the truck so firefighters know who is in a burning building. Instead, Tulsa Firefighter Jarred Henderson carried New York firefighters David Arce’s and John Tipping’s accountability tags on his helmet.

 

Henderson was one of about 130 emergency responders carrying tags with the names of New York firefighters killed on 9/11, climbing up 110 floors to commemorate the sacrifice made 17 years ago at the World Trade Center.

 

“Some scenarios you train for; some you can’t train for, and those you try to find where it fits best with what you have trained for,” Henderson said.

 

Arce and Tipping — both 36 — were among the hundreds of firefighters killed while responding to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack.

 

Arce’s shift had already ended when he jumped on a fire engine to go to the World Trade Center. Arce had the habit of bringing home stray animals and buying Christmas presents for underprivileged children, according to the New York Times.

 

Tipping lurched through college for about six years, trying to decide what he wanted as a career. His father, a retired firefighter, suggested he join the New York Fire Department. Despite not knowing what we wanted from a career, Tipping looked forward each weekend to skiing, biking or snowboarding.

 

On Tuesday, firefighters donned their gear — air packs, coats, pants, boots and helmets. The gear they wore, designed to keep in heat, insulated their body temperature. Sweat poured, dripping from the cuff of their pants. They climbed the 41 floors of First Place Tower, 15 E. Fifth St., about 2½ times to match the 110 floors of the World Trade Center in New York City.

 

More than 400 emergency responders died on 9/11 while answering the call to service. In solidarity with them, responders from Tulsa, Oklahoma City, Jenks, Bixby and Bristow — as well as a firefighters from Colorado and Kansas — marched up the floors of First Place Tower.

 

Firefighters received badges with the portraits of the New York firefighters to accompany the accountability tags, an idea borrowed from other departments participating in similar memorials, said Masako Mercado, an office administrator for the department.

 

“When I started doing it, it was so emotional, seeing those pictures and knowing they’re not with us anymore,” Mercado said.

 

Mercado said the firefighters were encouraged to keep the badges with them after the event.

 

Before climbing the downtown Tulsa tower, Tulsa Fire Capt. Joey Marshall addressed the group.

“They knew the risk … but despite that, they went into a building that had been hit by a plane,” Marshall said. “Their legacy will live on.”

 

Nineteen al-Qaida terrorists hijacked four airliners and flew two into the twin towers and one into the Pentagon. The fourth plane crashed into a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, after its passengers tried to overtake the hijackers.

 

About 3,000 people perished in the attacks, and more than 6,000 were injured. More died in the months following the attacks from cancer and respiratory diseases attributed to the attacks.

 

After climbing the 41-floor tower, firefighters affixed the New York firefighters’ accountability tags to a memorial board.

 

“Our brotherhood stretches beyond state lines, making it important to us to honor our brothers and sisters who made the ultimate sacrifice on 9/11 in New York City,” Marshall said. “It’s our job as firefighters to ensure their acts of courage and strength are never forgotten and remembered for future generations.”

 

Original article was published in the Tulsa World and can be found here.

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