Alvinston firefighters join 9/11 memorial Saturday


Kris Redick remembers the day the Twin Towers in New York fell.

The Brooke Fire Rescue deputy chief had just become a firefighter. He was working in the showroom at Wallis Motors when the news broke on Sept. 11, 2001 just after 9 am. “all of a sudden, we had like people coming in off the street, coming in to watch our TV. And that’s what I’ll always remember is our showroom being filled with people. And we’re watching these events unfold. So it was sort of crazy,” he says.

At the time, Redick and some of his fellow firefighters planned to go to New York City for the memorial for the 343 firefighters who died trying to rescue thousands in the office tower. After security concerns, the event was cancelled.

This Sept. 11th, the 20th anniversary of that fateful day, Redick will be part of a memorial. He, Rachel Bryans and Autumn Bressette of Brooke Fire Rescue will be part of the 9-11 Stair Climb at Lambton College. It’s being organized by Scott Brown, the professor of Fire Science Technology at the Lambton Fire School where Redick teaches.

Brown has been deeply impacted by the events of 20 years ago. “I was actually in the US doing some training that day. It was impactful right from the get go for me,” he says.
Brown and his wife even named their son, Patrick, after Patrick – Paddy – Brown, a firefighter who continued to climb the 110 flights of stairs at the Twin Towers that day even though for many it would seem hopeless.

“One of the last transmissions that he made that morning was giving an update to the command post of where he and his firefighters were, they were at the 35th. He was conveying that there was multiple casualties and multiple injuries coming down the stairs.

“And the last thing he said was ‘and we’re still heading up.’”

Brown says it’s the motto for the Sept. 11 event at the college and it’s something he tells his students about when he talks about 9/11.

“I think it’s a fantastic sort of life motto; we’re facing this adversity and those are the worst possible day we get – we couldn’t even fathom how bad this day turned out to be – the mindset was we still have a job to do and we’re still heading out.”

The stair climb will be steeped in symbolism. Each climber will be given the name of a firefighter who died. When they reach the 78th floor – the last known spot a firefighter reached before the building crumbled – the climbers will say their name.

Brown says it is likely to be an emotional moment.

“When you’re trudging along up those stairs and you hear that first person hit the bell for the first time, it’s pretty emotional. It’s pretty inspiring to keep going no matter how tired and sweaty and thirsty, you are at that point.”

The money raised from the climb will go to support the families of the American and Canadian firefighters who died in the Twin Towers. If you want to donate you do it online by going to the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation and looking for the Lambton College 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb or click here.