GRFD memorializes firefighters killed on Sept. 11 with long climb

Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Grand Rapids Fire Department firefighters honored firefighters who died in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks with a grueling stair climb Friday morning.

The climb at the Stairs on Division north of I-196 is an annual ritual for GRFD.

“We did 11 flights up and down,” Lt. Cory Kernodle said. “It’s to memorialize 9/11, the 343 firefighters who perished.”

The 11 flights of stairs simulate the World Trade Center buildings, which were 110 stories high. 

“When you wear pants, boots, helmet, air packs, it’s about 80 pounds of extra weight on top of what you’re carrying,” Kernodle said. 

Kernodle, who is an instructor in the department’s training division, says sacrifice is an important aspect of being a firefighter. 

“It’s important to get our young firefighters to realize the sacrifice those firefighters made, to realize this job is all about sacrifice,” the instructor said.

He said training can become emotional when he discusses the sacrifices firefighters made in the Sept. 11 attacks. 

“They went in there to save people, hoping to save people,” Kernodle said. “They knew going into that building that was their last alarm. Pretty emotional for students and instructors.”

Local first responders will also honor the men and women who died in the terrorist attacks with a stair climb at LMCU Ballpark on Saturday morning. 

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